Being involved in any type of accident can be a traumatic and stressful experience for anybody, especially if their quality of life is significantly hindered afterward. Things can get even more complex when an animal gets added into the mix, whether you’re the victim of a dog bite or your car hits a wild animal while driving, the process of determining legal liability in these cases. In each case, it’s important to know your rights and learn what to do before it’s too late to ask for compensation or file a lawsuit if needed. In our following guide, we share some important steps you need to take after an accident involving an animal has happened to you.
How to Evaluate Dog on Dog Aggression
Dogs are one of our most loyal companions for centuries, helping us with different tasks and providing company and love just like another family member. However, they’re still animals with wild instincts that can lash out if put under stress. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, the most common reason behind emergency appointments across the U.S. happens because of a bite wound.
In these scenarios, it is crucial to determine liability based on the incident’s location and indicators of negligence from the involved owners. If your dog attacked another dog on public property, such as a dog park, the other owner might have the right to sue you for vet expenses. However, let’s assume the dog attack happens in your backyard because the other dog escaped from its owner and entered your property. In that case, you have good grounds for refusing liability for the accident.
The Case for Dog Bites with Human Victims
The situation gets more complex when the victim of a dog’s attack is a person. Here, the person affected can serve you a personal injury lawsuit, and depending on your state’s law, you may always be held responsible for your dog’s actions. The victim can show proof of negligence through video footage, witness statements of the event, expense records, and cite their local state’s dangerous dog laws. They can even ask for your homeowner’s insurance company contact information to file a claim with them, since usually these policies include dog attacks in their contracts.
Dogs have been domesticated for years. For that reason, many would regard their dogs as harmless, especially because of their breed. However, it is still important to note that some counties have determined certain breeds as “vicious” according to specific standards, such as their PSI for a dog bite, which makes the dog’s owner automatically liable for negligence regardless of the incident’s circumstances. Some insurance companies even state in their coverage that they won’t cover dog attacks if these specific dog breeds are involved. Therefore, if you own any dog that may be considered “dangerous” or “vicious”, you should learn about how the local county treats these breeds and what are your general responsibilities as the owner.
Liability in Vehicle Accidents with Animals Involved
In some states, it’s fairly common to have certain months of the year where wildlife has higher activity than usual. The chances of finding yourself face to face with a wild animal while driving through the suburbs should always be taken as a serious concern. It may seem obvious to say this, but deers, foxes, and raccoons won’t respect crosswalks or general traffic signs before crossing at high speed.
For this same reason, car accidents involving wild animals are usually considered true accidents by law enforcers. The exception happens whenever the driver breaks any traffic law, such as speeding, tailgating, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Either way, recording evidence of the incident’s scene, searching for witnesses, and gathering the contact information of other drivers that may have been involved should be part of the protocol after the incident.
A slightly different situation happens when dealing with livestock. In this case, the livestock’s owner can be held responsible for the accident since they didn’t make sure their animals were secured enough and ran off to the road. This may not happen every time a vehicle incident occurs, but this is useful information for finding liability for the event afterward. The same criteria may be applied for dog owners whose pets got off the leash and into the road, however, most cases are cataloged as true accidents if the dog got away after every attempt of keeping them safe failed.
Knowing your rights when you’re involved in an accident can make a huge difference when seeking compensation for the consequences you’re suffering afterward. Whether you need to pay for car repairs or vet care for your animal, finding who’s responsible in these scenarios can get complex and requires in-depth research to find the truth.