Civil Liabilities of Pet Owners

Disclaimer: How To Educate Dogs The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is never a substitute for competent legal advice. The article contains only general statements of law and is therefore not case-specific. Consult your lawyer if faced with a specific situation.

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Just as you can be responsible for the destruction caused by a fire . You carelessly left to escalate or for the ripple effect caused by an inciteful post you put up on the internet. You may be liable for any damage your animals commit. How To Educate Dogs under the law, “animal” is defined broadly to include pets. While the focus here is on pets, the information applies to other domestic animals.

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If you keep any pets, you have a legal duty of care arising from your ownership to prevent them from causing harm or damage. If you fail to do so, you may be subjected to civil liability. Anyone, who has been harmed or suffered damages, will be able to take civil action against you. This is in line with the principles of the law of torts that make you as the owner liable as an animal cannot possibly be sued or be a defendant in a lawsuit. Five primary criteria inform your legal responsibility for the actions of your pets: awareness, negligence, breach, causation, and damage.

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• Awareness means the defendant (owner) knows the brutal tendency of the pet. (The court would also hold the defendant’s knowledge to exist. If a person in whose charge the defendant had kept the pet had acquired knowledge of the brutal propensity of the pet. Thus, if the defendant’s wife knew of the dangerous tendency, the plaintiff would be liable).

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• Negligence means having knowledge of the harm your animal could do. But ignoring it or not taking measures to prevent it from doing damage. The difference between the meanings of awareness and negligence. In this context is that in negligence, the owner does not just have knowledge of the vicious tendency of the animal but also does not take precautions.

1 Breach means falling below the standard of a reasonable owner (like letting your big dog off its lead next to a group of toddlers).

2 Causation means that the victim or their property would not have suffered harm if not for your negligence.

3 Damage means some loss or harm to the claimant, ranging from personal injury to property damage.

If all five of the above criteria, the claimant is entitled to compensation from you.

Keepers of pets usually incur liability for pets. “Keeper” here refers to the owner, the head of the household if the owner is a minor, a person in whose temporary custody the pet is, and a previous owner who has lost ownership or possession of the pet before there is a new keeper. So know that if your child lets something loose in the woods, it’s still your responsibility so long as the pet has not got a new keeper.

Diffrent Characteristics Of Animals

To help determine liability, the law makes an essential distinction between dangerous and non-dangerous animals, exactly the classification we have known since kindergarten. Non-dangerous species are those that are, of course, not dangerous. These are domestic and usually tame animals but may occasionally attack humans and cause them harm. They comprise pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, horses, et cetera. Liability for a pet (and other non-dangerous animals) only arises if the damage is of a kind that the particular animal, if unrestrained, is likely to cause.

And if such damage is expected to be severe, the victim will have sufficient claim. Furthermore, the claimant must prove that this likelihood is due to the characteristics of the animal. That are ordinarily unusual for its species or which are only familiar in the species at specific times. Consider, for instance, the risk of a huge and aggressive dog biting someone or the risks associated with a dog with rabies. This is an unusual character and could make a successful claim.

However, if your ordinary cat scratches someone, they are unlikely to have a good claim against you. Because a scratch from a cat is not an unusual characteristic of cats. It is also not restricted to rare occasions.

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Further, if it was impossible to stop your dog from biting someone . You are still responsible for the injuries the dog caused. In the same vein, you are deemed responsible if a person trips and injures himself . For if an animal’s acts were the direct cause of an injury, the owner could be held responsible. There need not be direct or physical contact between the victim and the animal.

But as it is with every claim in life. Most importantly, for your relief as a pet owner, there are defense to claims of liability for your pet’s actions. Defense to liability claims include: contributory negligence, volenti, and trespass.

• Contributory negligence is where the harm suffered was partly a result of the claimant’s own fault or negligence. This includes provoking the animal, trying to scare it, not taking basic, reasonable precautions, etc. Imagine someone not familiar to your dog putting his fingers down the dog’s throat.

Volenti means voluntary assumption of risk. It is a situation where the victim voluntarily assumed or put himself in the risk of harm or damage. This defense does not apply where the risk is ordinarily incidental to a person’s employment. You cannot, for instance, dismiss a claim from a zoo keeper who a dog bit. For trespass, your defense will succeed if the animal was reasonably kept for protection from trespassers.

So if a dog kept for the purpose of barking at trespassers to alert you to their presence bites a burglar. You will have a defense. If animals were unreasonably nurtured or incited to assault a harmless trespasser, the defense of trespass might not fly. If you let loose dogs who have been purposefully starved for days on a trespasser then you are likely to be liable for any harm

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