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Does the Type of Animal Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury claims are for victims to get the damages they deserve for injuries that were not their fault. When you’re bitten by an animal owned by someone else, they may have to pay you for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional or mental distress, damaged property, and more.

Attacks by Domestic Animals

Animal bite laws aren’t limited to only dogs. Most include injuries from other domestic animals and livestock, including, but not limited to, cows, horses, and pigs. Most states don’t have separate laws regarding these animals, but evaluate all domestic animal injuries under one animal attack law.

Most states follow a strict liability law, where owners are always responsible unless there is evidence that their victim was not legally allowed in the place they were attacked or they provoked the animal. Other states follow a “one bite” law, where owners are only liable if they had reason to believe the animal is dangerous and acted negligently with that knowledge.

In Athens, Georgia, a couple was sued because their cow attacked and severely injured another woman. The owners of the cow were accused of negligence because the cow was able to get out of its pasture and attack the victim. A settlement was eventually reached in June with the owners of the cow paying damages to both the victim and her husband.

Attacks by Wild Animals

Zoos, animal parks, and other wild animal keepers are held to much higher standards of strict liability than domestic animal owners, because many of the animals are already know to be dangerous. Even if the owner had never had any problems with the animal and didn’t believe the animal to be dangerous, they are still at fault.

This stricter strict liability may still apply even if the victim would be considered at fault for provocation or unlawful entry in other domestic attack cases or if the owner took extreme precautions to protect the public from the animal.

For example, in 2007, one teenager was killed and two others injured by a Siberian tiger in the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo settled with the injured brothers for $900,000. Evidence has been found that the teenagers were drunk and investigators believe they were taunting the tiger, but it wasn’t proven and the zoo was found at fault because the wall of the enclosure was found to be lower than the federal safety recommendation.

What to Consider Before Filing a Claim

Claims with animals other than dogs may be easier to win, especially larger animals, but in domestic cases, you may still be limited if your actions caused the attack in any way. Most lawyers offer free evaluations to examine how strong your case actually is.

You should also think about the amount of money you are claiming for damages. Smaller injuries with low damages may not be worth going to court over, but you could receive compensation for pain and suffering as well as compensation for high medical expenses and missed work in serious injuries.

How to File a Claim

After you’ve assessed your injuries and possible future costs, you first need to write a demand letter to the animal owner’s insurance company. The letter should describe the facts of the event, the injuries you received, and the length and hardship of recovery, treatment, and permanent disabilities (including scars). You also need to name a specific amount of money and time limit for response.

If your demand is denied, ignored, or they refuse to pay the settlement you feel you deserve, you’ll need to file a claim in your state’s civil court. You should contact a lawyer if you don’t have one already. Your lawyer will have a deep understanding of personal injury laws and be able to either settle your case or defend it in front of a judge.

GA cow attack:


SF Zoo: