People keep animals of all breeds, sizes, and varieties as pets. Although these pets provide valuable companionship to their owners, there are hundreds of incidents each year in which a pet causes harm to either its owner or a third party. Typically, these incidents involve dogs with a history of violence and aggression or domesticated wild animals. Sometimes, however, even a seemingly docile animal can cause injury. Regardless of the circumstances, one state has placed stricter requirements on animal owners in an attempt to cut down on animal-related injuries.
The Connecticut Supreme Court recently ruled that the owner of a domestic animal “has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the animal from causing injuries that are foreseeable because the animal belongs to a class of animals that is naturally inclined to cause such injuries.” The case at hand involved a horse. The court stated that because horses are “a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious,” simply keeping a horse constitutes notice to the owner that take steps must be taken to prevent the horse from injuring people. Furthermore, the court stated that an animal’s owner does not need to know that the specific animal is dangerous in order to have this standard applied, but only that the animal is part of a class of animals with a natural tendency to inflict harm.
The Connecticut case stemmed from a 2006 incident in which a horse bit a child’s cheek, removing a large piece of it. The court stated that although this incident was unfortunate, it was foreseeable because horses have the tendency to “nip and bite,” and that in the future, juries should not consider questions about a specific horse’s nature because this tendency is a naturally occurring trait in horses. Instead, the jury should just ask whether the animal’s owner could reasonably have foreseen the injury.
The goal of the Connecticut decision is to place stricter standards on animal owners, who are expected to take further steps to prevent their pets and animals from inflicting injuries. In the event that you are injured by an animal, regardless of whether it is a dog, cat, horse, hamster, snake, or any other domestically kept breed, legal remedies may be available to help you recover for your injuries. An experienced Newark personal injury lawyer, particularly one with experience in animal bite cases, can help you understand these rights, and, if necessary, help you bring legal action to exercise those rights.