Many people only think about dogs when they think about animal bites; however, there are plenty of other pets that have teeth. The difference may be in the way that these animal bites are handled in the event of a lawsuit. Who can be held responsible? Do you have rights if you are bitten by a wild animal? Here are a few things that may come in handy regarding wild animal bites:
1. People Keeping Wild Animals as Pets.
To some, it may be ludicrous, but there are actually people out there that have a wild animal as a pet. As a general rule, since wild animals are inherently dangerous and potentially uncontrollable, the owners are held under strict liability rules. Strict liability is when an owner is liable for any harm caused by their pet, regardless of who was at fault for the incident. Even if you took certain steps to warn and protect the public about your wild pet, such as a warning sign or fence, you may still be able to be held liable for any injuries caused by your pet.
2. Criminal Liability for Victims.
In many cases, getting bit by a dog or some form of domestic pet usually results in a monetary award for the victim from the pet owner. However, when you get bitten by a wild animal, things are drastically different. In fact, it could mean that you – the victim – spend some time behind bars and/or pay a hefty fine. This is because you may have provoked the attack, such as by trying to feed the animal, which is illegal in many states, such as Alaska.
Back in 2013, a man threw food out for a bear, and the bear then attacked him. He was potentially facing criminal charges for his action. Another man was charged with 20 counts of feeding game illegally in 2009. According to the Alaska statute, you can face criminal charges if you violate the law, which prohibits people from feeding any type of wild animal under any circumstances.
3. Doctrine of Animals Ferae Naturae
This particular principle simply states that property owners can't be held responsible for attacks by wild animals that take place on their property, as in a Georgia legal case from 2011. However, if it is reasonably foreseeable that a wild animal would be on your property, you may be able to be held liable. For example, if a mountain lion comes onto your property and bites a guest, and you've never seen this lion before that day, you probably will not be held responsible. However, if you know that there are tons of snakes hiding around your property, you are expected to take the necessary steps to protect your guests.
Ultimately, if you've been attacked and injured by a wild animal while on someone else's property, it is crucial that you speak to a personal injury lawyer at your very earliest convenience. Get medical attention and then contact a lawyer as soon as you are able. Laws vary from state to state, so a legal professional will be able to help you determine whether you have a viable case to take to court or not and who the defendant should be.