Can I Sue if a Cat Bites Me?

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Most injuries brought on by domestic animals are caused by dogs. Among children dog bites account for a very large percentage of ER visits. In some areas it is the number one reason why children are taken to the ER. Typically dog bite children on the face. These dog bites are very serious injuries and most serious injuries caused by animals are caused by dogs. This does not mean that other animals do not cause serious injures. Other animals do cause serious injuries and often more severe that dogs, but injuries from other animals are not as frequent.

People keep all types of animals in their homes as pets including very dangerous animals and people are injured by all types of animals. In determining liability it becomes a question of whether the animal is domestic or wild. Keep an alligator for example is obviously more dangerous than keeping a chicken. There is real risk of injury from domestic animals, but with wild animals it becomes more of a question of when an injury will occur and not if one will occur. With domestic animals the odds of injury are much smaller, but even so there is risk associated with the keeping of animals.

Cats are not as likely to cause a serious injury and not as dangerous as a dog, but there are just as many pet cats as pet dogs. The risk of injury from a cat is therefore high and the probability of humans suffering serious injuries from cat attacks is high. The difference between cat and dogs is just frequency, dogs cause serious injuries more frequently. A cat might not cause as much damage as a dog, because they are simply smaller and probably a lot less aggressive, but it is not uncommon for cats to bite or scratch. These small bites and scratches can also result in serious injuries through one of several ways.

A serious cat injury can occur when a cat bites or scratches and the cat passes on an infection. It is not uncommon for cats to carry bacteria or viruses on their claws that are harmful to humans. From time to time people get very sick after a small cat scratch because of the infection. The challenge would be one of connecting the disease contracted to the cat, sometimes it is evident and identified by the medical provider, but sometimes there is no evidence to make the connection.

The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff, so making a claim for a cat bite or a cat scratch requires there be proof of the injury. The actual wound would be a given, but if there is an infection it may not always be proof. Of course infections are not the only way a serious injury can arise from a cat attack. Some cats have known to attack humans on the face. If cat scratches a person on the eyes for example it can result in the loss of eyesight. On other occasions deep scratches to the face can result in serious scars that are life long scars.

You are not going to find an attorney specializing in cat bites, or attacks from any particular animal, but personal injury attorneys and attorneys with a strong focus in dog bites would be suitable for handling such claims. A dog bite attorney is really a personal injury attorney that may have handled a lot of dog bite cases and very familiar with special cases pertaining to dog bites. The same attorney would be particularly skilled to handle other animal attacks and injury claims.

In evaluating the claim a personal injury attorney would look to see if there is negligence on the part of the owner or person that shelters and harbors the cats. If the injury victim for example attempts to catch a cat by surprise, it is natural for the cat to respond and defend itself. That we cannot say it is negligence on the part of the owner, it would be assumption of risk by the person trying to catch the cat by surprise. On the other hand if the victim is invited into a home and the cat is territorial and attacks, that would be negligence on the part of the owner. The owner new or should have know his cat’s propensity to cause injury.

June 30, 2017 |
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