Many people have pets today, and in a perfect world, all pets would be well-trained to be docile. However, some pet owners allow their pets to be aggressive, while others try to teach pets to be well-behaved but fail in the end. Many pets unleash aggression when least expected, and this can lead to them biting a stranger or friend or causing them harm in some other way. The culprits are not always dogs, as cats, reptiles, and even rodents are common pets today that can injure humans. There are several misconceptions that keep pet attack victims from seeking compensation for their injuries from the pet owner. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions to remember if you are ever bitten by a pet.
Myth #1: You Are to Blame if You Are in the Pet Owner's Home
This is a natural misconception many people believe when injured by the pet of friend or acquaintance while in the person's home. Many people think that, since they are in the pet owner's house, the attack is their fault for being in the home with a potentially aggressive pet in the first place.
Actually, part of establishing liability of the owner for an attack is proving that you were on the owner's premises legally. If you are a friend or acquaintance of the pet owner, then you have a much stronger case than someone on the premises illegally.
In some states, a pet attack is automatically considered the owner's fault, no matter when or where it occurred, and you won't even have to argue about why the attack occurred. In other states, you must only prove that you did not provoke the attack in any way, such as taunting the dog or instigating aggression on some other way.
In the end, forget this misconception, because the fact that you were in the owner's home legally gives you a stronger case against the dog owner and not a weaker or non-existent one.
Myth #2: If You Are at a Dog Park, Then You Have No Case Because Roughhousing Is Expected
When you take your dog to a dog park, you do accept that there is some risk of accidents due to the dogs running around and having a good time. For example, if large dogs are allowed at the park and one that is typically well-behaved bumps you accidentally and causes you to fall, then this is one of the small types of accidents that you accept may occur when attending the park. This type of accident occurred harmlessly and during a time when no rules were broken.
However, a similar scenario that instead involves a dog that has shown a pattern of aggression in the past at the park would be considered the owner's fault, as he or she is breaking a common rule of dog parks that aggressive dogs are not allowed in the parks. Most dog parks have signs that state this fact clearly next to gates to enter the park. If they don't have these signs, then this opens the owner of the park to lawsuits against them for injuries that occur in the park.
Another example where the dog owner would be clearly liable for injury at a dog park involves parks that have separate areas for small and large dogs. If a large dog is in the small dog area or vice versa, and that dog bites or injures someone, then that shows extreme negligence on the dog owner's part for not having their dog in the correct area.
In the end, dog park rules are there for a reason. If you are injured because an owner did not follow the rules, then you should speak to an attorney, because you likely have a case against the dog owner.
Myth #3: It Was Your Fault for Picking Up the Animal
If you are at a friend's house who has a snake, hamster, or other small animal, then you may think that if it bites you after you pick it up, then the bite is your fault. After all, you chose to pick the animal up when you had the option to leave it alone. This is one type of animal injury case where the state you live in will determine the fate of who was at fault for the injury.
If you are in a state with strict liability animal laws, then the bite is considered the pet owner's fault. The reason is that he or she should have known there was a chance you would have been bitten and not allowed you to pick up the animal. However, if you live in a state without the strict liability law, then you must speak to an attorney and describe exactly when and why you were bitten to determine if you have a personal injury case against the pet owner or not.
Remember these three misconceptions if you are ever injured by a pet. Speak to a personal injury lawyer from a firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC to discuss your options and who truly is to blame for your injury.