Most people who love a cat or dog expect others to understand that the pet is a member of the family. You treat it as a member of the family, you protect it as a member of family, and you respect it as a member of the family. If you can’t do those things for a fellow family member, then you’re probably not worthy of the respect yourself. Unfortunately, sometimes family members are involved in acts of seemingly random violence–pets included. What do we do when the worst happens? If you were the pet owner, you might be liable.
If you were attacked and bitten by someone else’s pet, then you need medical attention right away. Animal bites are extremely dangerous, and pet mouths are home to many malevolent bacteria just waiting to make your bad day worse. Not only is medical attention important for your health, but it also protects you from a legal standpoint. If you must seek compensation or sue the pet owner, then you’ll want your experiences as fully documented as possible. In order to do this, photograph the bite area. If you were badly injured, then continue to photograph the area as you recover.
When you speak to a legal expert, you’ll want to have details ready. Bring the doctor’s report. Bring any bills that resulted from the bite. Be prepared to describe the circumstances that led to the attack. Dogs don’t normally become violent until they feel threatened or provoked in some way, so you may have unknowingly caused the animal discomfort. Don’t exaggerate. If you have information about the pet owner or witnesses to the attack, then provide it to your attorney.
Liability in the event of a pet attack can vary from state to state. In some states, the owner is liable no matter the circumstances. Even if the dog had never shown prior signs of aggression, the owner is responsible for the attack.
If you’ve been attacked, then you’ll want to know how a pet owner might protect him or herself from litigation. If the owner of the dog or other animal ensured that other parties in the neighborhood were aware of the dog’s tendency toward aggressiveness by placing signs or building fences, and can prove that you ignored every warning, then you might be responsible for your own injuries.
Depending on the circumstances, other parties could share partial or full liability for the attack. For example, if your landlord entered your apartment without your knowledge and had already been warned that an animal was on the premises, the landlord could be held responsible. If the dog is in the custody of an outside organization like a kennel or dog walker, then they might in some circumstances be held responsible for the attack.
If, on the other hand, you’re the owner of a happy healthy animal in no danger of becoming aggressive anytime soon, then you might take estate planning to the next level by setting up a pet trust. This legal offering will help you decide how to allocate resources for your pet’s care in the event that you’re not able to provide that care yourself. The trust will effectively guarantee that your pet receives care in the event of your death.