Every year, thousands of people suffer animal attacks – especially dog bites. Animal attacks can be traumatic, especially for vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. An animal scratching, biting, or knocking you down can cause injuries ranging from puncture wounds and lacerations to broken bones and concussions. Depending on the situation, you may have to pay for a hospital stay, surgeries, infection remedies, or rabies vaccinations to ensure your safety. In the face of these damages, one question stands out: who is liable? Powers Injury Law is here to help you learn the answer.
Animal Attacks and Premises Liability Laws
In many cases, animal attacks fall under the umbrella of premises liability law. Pet owners and guardians have a responsibility to ensure the safety of visitors or passersby to a property. This includes implementing proper safety precautions to prevent a dog bite or other animal attack, such as proper fencing, gates with locks, leashes, muzzles, warning signs, or keeping the animal indoors. It is the caregiver’s duty to prevent harm from befalling property visitors or people on the streets due to an aggressive or unpredictable animal. This is the case no matter what the animal.
Failure to keep visitors reasonably safe on a property, resulting in an injurious animal attack, constitutes general negligence. The injured party may be able to bring a claim against the property owner in Alabama under the rules of premises liability. This would only be the case, however, if the plaintiff was not trespassing on the property or provoking the animal at the time of the attack. If the victim can prove that the animal demonstrated violent tendencies in the past, and the property owner did nothing to prevent a repeat incident, the courts may award the plaintiff compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Alabama’s Dog Bite Statutes
The majority of animal attack cases stem from dog bites. Alabama’s dog bite laws are more complex than in many other states, with a number of statutes that may come into play. As a bite victim, you may be able to recover compensation in these situations:
- You had a legal right to be where you were at the time of the attack. In this case, any bite or injury (without provocation) is the liability of the dog’s owner, if it occurred upon the owner’s property or if the dog pursued the victim from the property. A dog owner’s possible defense in this case is not having any prior knowledge of the dog’s violent tendencies.
- The dog was running at large. These cases obey the rules of common law negligence, not dog bite statutes per se. If a dog running at large attacks you, you may have a case against the owner for negligently failing to keep the animal properly contained.
- The dog was a pit bull. Many cities in Alabama have breed-specific laws that declare pit bulls dangerous or vicious, or ban them altogether. In the event of a pit bull attack in these cities, you likely do not need to prove that the owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. The fact that the canine was a pit bull is enough to prove that the owner reasonably should have known that the animal could be dangerous.
It is possible to pursue compensation for non-bite injuries, such as being knocked down or scratched by an animal. Animal attack laws can be complex, and involve many different legal doctrines. Enlist the assistance of a capable attorney to optimize your odds of recovery. Contact our Birmingham personal injury lawyers at Powers Injury Law to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible after an animal attack. Connect online or call (205) 582-2723 today.