How The Negligent Handling Of Animals Works Under Texas Law.
As with any negligence claim, plaintiffs have the burden of proving the elements of the case to the court in order to win their claim. When this negligent act resulted from the negligent handling of an animal, there are unique circumstances that needs to be taken into account.
In this article, we'll look at each of the elements necessary to prove the defendant is liable for the negligent handling of an animal, and talk about how to put yourself in the best possible position to win your claim.
Elements of a Negligent Handling of an Animal cause of action:
- The defendant was the owner or possessor of the animal
- The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others
- The defendant breached that duty
- The defendant's breach proximately caused the plaintiff's injury
Defendant was the owner of the animal.
To prove an action for negligent handling of an animal, you must establish the defendant owned, kept, or harbored the animal. It's important to note that it isn't necessary to prove that the animal was vicious or dangerous in a suit for negligent handling of an animal. First and foremost, you must establish that the defendant was responsible for the animal. So, if a neighbor's dog bit you while you were out walking around your apartment complex, the managing office should be able to pull up the defendant's lease and see that there is a dog listed on their leasing contract.
Defendant owed a legal duty.
To prove an action for negligent handling of an animal, you must establish that the defendant owed you a legal duty. Generally speaking, the defendant owes a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent its animals from injuring others. This includes being aware of circumstances that might cause an ordinarily gentle animal to attack other animals or people. Situations where an incident occurs while a dog is off leash, would fall under this element. There are additional guidelines in place for landlords and livestock owners.
Defendant breached that duty.
In order to prove an action for negligent handling of an animal, you must establish the defendant breaches their duty. You must present evidence showing that the defendant did not use the degree of care a reasonably prudent person would have used in handling the animal. Examples of this that have held up in court include:
- not attempting to stop dogs from continuing to attack a person after the attack has begun
- leaving a dog tethered to the front of the house (which an expert testified made the dog aggressive)
- not keeping a dog under restraint at all times when required to do so by municipal ordinance
- not keeping a monkey properly confined
- not providing an employee with proper equipment to handle a bull.
Breach of duty was proximate cause of your injuries.
In order to prove an action for negligent handling of an animal, you must also establish the defendant's breach of duty proximately caused your injury. In other words, that their negligence was the main contributing factor to your injuries. That being said, an animal's propensity to be dangerous can be a factor in determining foreseeability. So, if you were bit by an animal that had a prior incident, this would help your claim because the owner could have foreseen that it could happen again in the future.
How to File a Claim
The guidance of an experienced attorney is invaluable during this process. At Grossman Law Offices we have over 25 years of experience handling cases in the state of Texas. We've won thousands of cases, and we know this area of law well. We're confident we can answer whatever questions you might have regarding your claim. If you'd like to talk to one of our attorneys about your case or about taking the first steps, we're available to you 24/7 by phone. You can reach us at (855) 326-0000.
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