Can You Sue Animals?

You can’t drag an animal into court, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sue if an animal causes you harm.

Why would you want to sue an animal?

You may want to sue an animal for injuries it caused to a person or for property damage.

Common situations include dog bites, dogs attacking other dogs, cat bites and scratches, or being trampled by a loose cow or horse.

You could also have property damage from an animal chewing your property, scratching your car, breaking your windows, or stomping on your garden.

If an animal causes you financial harm, it’s only fair to feel like you shouldn’t have to pay and someone, or something, else should have the legal responsibility.

So can you sue an animal?

The short answer is no; you can’t sue an animal. Courts and laws are for people.

And even if you could sue an animal, what would you have to win? Animals don’t have property or money unless you want a dog’s chewed-up old bone.

Who has legal liability for an animal?

If you’re in a situation where you have a legal claim due to the actions of an animal, the answer is to sue the pet owner, farmer, zoo, or whoever owns the animal.

Animal owners generally have legal liability for what their animals do.

For example, dog owners are usually liable even if their dog escaped and bit someone. They might argue that their dog made its own choices, but dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs under their control at all times.

The same legal theories apply to any other type of animal. If a horse escapes from a farm or a tiger escapes from a zoo, whoever owns that animal and was responsible for keeping it under control is liable for personal injury and property damage caused by that animal.

Can an employer be liable for an employee’s animal at work?

Employers may have legal liability if they allow employees to bring animals to work and an animal injures or bites someone. This would usually fall under vicarious liability or premises liability.

Even though the employee is primarily responsible for the animal, the employer has to take reasonable steps to make sure animals allowed at work don’t harm other employees. This can include setting a pet policy and making sure employees are properly supervising the pets they bring to work.

How do you sue because of an animal?

When you bring a legal action for personal injury or property damage caused by an animal, you’ll name the animal’s owner in the lawsuit. This is usually in the form of a negligence lawsuit.

You’ll allege that the owner was negligent by not keeping the animal under control, and that led to your harm. As long as you’re able to prove which animal caused you harm, you’ll usually win.

Injuries and property damage caused by animals usually fall under strict liability, which means the owner is automatically liable for what his or her animal did.

Examples of when you could lose include a dog attacked you when you jumped the fence into its yard or you jumped into the shark tank at the aquarium. Basically, the animal’s owner took reasonable precautions and your own actions led to you being harmed.

The exact reasons you can sue and possible defenses vary based on where you live, so talk to a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been harmed by an animal.

What if the animal was a wild animal?

If a wild animal caused you harm, you usually won’t have a right to sue. You can’t sue a wild animal, and there’s no person that’s responsible for that animal.

You’ll want to try to find out if the animal was truly wild. People keep exotic pets both legally and illegally. It could have also escaped from a zoo, circus, wildlife sanctuary, research facility, or anywhere else.

An animal being a wild animal doesn’t excuse the person who owned it from keeping it under control. In fact, the more potentially dangerous an animal is, the higher level of responsibility the person who owns it has.

What if you don’t know who owns an animal?

You should report any animal attack to the police department or animal control. They will usually try to track the animal down and locate the owner.

The animal’s owner will often be liable for criminal or civil penalties in addition to your personal injury lawsuit.

More importantly, you should get immediate medical attention. For many animal attacks, you either need to confirm the animal has a current rabies vaccine or immediately get a rabies vaccine to avoid the potential risk of rabies.

Some people don’t like reporting a dog bite because of what can happen to the owner or the dog. If you don’t know who the owner is, you should report it because of the health risk to you and the risk of it biting someone in the future. If you do know the owner, it’s usually not legally necessary to file a police report, but it could make your lawsuit or insurance claim more difficult if the owner later denies his or her dog bit you.

In cases of personal property damage, your local police may or may not assist you in taking a report and locating the animal. Animal control will usually respond to reports of loose domestic animals and will often hold the animal until they can find the owner.

What if you can’t find the owner or the animal has no owner?

In cases of wild animals or where you can’t identify the owner, you’ll need to file an insurance claim with your insurance company.

Dog bites and other injuries will usually fall under your health insurance. Property damage will usually be covered by your home insurance. Veterinary bills may not be covered unless you purchased pet insurance.

You can’t drag an animal into court, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sue if an animal causes you harm.

Why would you want to sue an animal?

You may want to sue an animal for injuries it caused to a person or for property damage.

Common situations include dog bites, cat bites and scratches, or being trampled by a loose cow or horse.

You could also have property damage from an animal chewing your property, scratching your car, breaking your windows, or stomping on your garden.

If an animal causes you financial harm, it’s only fair to feel like you shouldn’t have to pay and someone, or something, else should have the legal responsibility.

So can you sue an animal?

The short answer is no; you can’t sue an animal. Courts and laws are for people.

And even if you could sue an animal, what would you have to win? Animals don’t have property or money unless you want a dog’s chewed-up old bone.

Who has legal liability for an animal?

If you’re in a situation where you have a legal claim due to the actions of an animal, the answer is to sue the pet owner, farmer, zoo, or whoever owns the animal.

Animal owners generally have legal liability for what their animals do.

For example, dog owners are usually liable even if their dog escaped and bit someone. They might argue that their dog made its own choices, but dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs under their control at all times.

The same legal theories apply to any other type of animal. If a horse escapes from a farm or a tiger escapes from a zoo, whoever owns that animal and was responsible for keeping it under control is liable for personal injury and property damage caused by that animal.

Can an employer be liable for an employee’s animal at work?

Employers may have legal liability if they allow employees to bring animals to work and an animal injures or bites someone. This would usually fall under vicarious liability or premises liability.

Even though the employee is primarily responsible for the animal, the employer has to take reasonable steps to make sure animals allowed at work don’t harm other employees. This can include setting a pet policy and making sure employees are properly supervising the pets they bring to work.

How do you sue because of an animal?

When you bring a legal action for personal injury or property damage caused by an animal, you’ll name the animal’s owner in the lawsuit. This is usually in the form of a negligence lawsuit.

You’ll allege that the owner was negligent by not keeping the animal under control, and that led to your harm. As long as you’re able to prove which animal caused you harm, you’ll usually win.

Injuries and property damage caused by animals usually fall under strict liability, which means the owner is automatically liable for what his or her animal did.

Examples of when you could lose include a dog attacked you when you jumped the fence into its yard or you jumped into the shark tank at the aquarium. Basically, the animal’s owner took reasonable precautions and your own actions led to you being harmed.

The exact reasons you can sue and possible defenses vary based on where you live, so talk to a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been harmed by an animal.

What if the animal was a wild animal?

If a wild animal caused you harm, you usually won’t have a right to sue. You can’t sue a wild animal, and there’s no person that’s responsible for that animal.

You’ll want to try to find out if the animal was truly wild. People keep exotic pets both legally and illegally. It could have also escaped from a zoo, circus, wildlife sanctuary, research facility, or anywhere else.

An animal being a wild animal doesn’t excuse the person who owned it from keeping it under control. In fact, the more potentially dangerous an animal is, the higher level of responsibility the person who owns it has.

What if you don’t know who owns an animal?

You should report any animal attack to the police department or animal control. They will usually try to track the animal down and locate the owner.

The animal’s owner will often be liable for criminal or civil penalties in addition to your personal injury lawsuit.

More importantly, you should get immediate medical attention. For many animal attacks, you either need to confirm the animal has a current rabies vaccine or immediately get a rabies vaccine to avoid the potential risk of rabies.

Some people don’t like reporting a dog bite because of what can happen to the owner or the dog. If you don’t know who the owner is, you should report it because of the health risk to you and the risk of it biting someone in the future. If you do know the owner, it’s usually not legally necessary to file a police report, but it could make your lawsuit or insurance claim more difficult if the owner later denies his or her dog bit you.

In cases of personal property damage, your local police may or may not assist you in taking a report and locating the animal. Animal control will usually respond to reports of loose domestic animals and will often hold the animal until they can find the owner.

What if you can’t find the owner or the animal has no owner?

In cases of wild animals or where you can’t identify the owner, you’ll need to file an insurance claim with your insurance company.

Dog bites and other injuries will usually fall under your health insurance. Property damage will usually be covered by your home insurance. Veterinary bills may not be covered unless you purchased pet insurance.