When Pets Bite

In some states, the owner of an animal can be held liable for the injuries it inflicts as long as the owner knew (or had reason to know) that the animal had “dangerous propensities.” Thus, those who have been injured by an animal may base their claims of liability on the animal’s past behavior when providing evidence that the owner should have known of the danger presented by his or her pet. However, it may be difficult to determine whether an owner knew of an animal’s dangerous inclinations.

In other states, like New Jersey, strict liability laws may hold a dog owner legally responsible for an animal bite regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong with respect to protecting others from attack.

HINT: If an animal owner warned others that the animal was dangerous and a person ignored these warnings, it may be difficult for the injured party to successfully sue the owner.