Horses are large and potentially unsafe animals. Horses may kick, throw, and bite people. You may wonder, Can I sue someone over a horse bite in California?
Whether you can sue for a horse bite injury depends on the individual horse and your activities with the horse. Below, Silva Injury Law describes California law applicable to horse injury claims.
California Horse Bite Laws
Perhaps a horse bit you or your relative, and you’d like to know, Can I sue someone for a horse bite? A horse bite claim under California law has many legal nuances, some of which we describe below.
Most people injured by horse bites rely on the legal standard of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that:
- The person you’re suing owed you a duty of care,
- They breached that duty,
- Their breach caused the horse to bite, and
- The horse bite caused you harm.
Courts typically find that individuals breach their duty of care only if they know or have reason to believe the horse would bite a person unprovoked.
In California, a horse owner is strictly liable for any injuries their horse causes if the horse has “an unusually dangerous nature or tendency.” The owner must know of or have reason to know of their horse’s unusually dangerous nature. For example, the owner may know that the horse bit someone on a previous occasion.
A horse owner is also strictly liable if their horse trespasses on your land and bites you. In addition to the bite, the owner is responsible for any other damage the horse causes while trespassing on your property.
Even if the animal was dangerous, or trespassing, a court will reduce your compensation if the owner shows that you provoked the horse per California’s comparative negligence rule. If you are partially at fault, this will reduce the total compensation you are entitled to. For example, if you are 40% at fault, a court will award you only 60% of your damages..
Assumption of Risk
Certain people may not be successful in a horse bite injury claim because, under the law, they assume the risk when they engage in a known dangerous activity.
Horseback riders may find it difficult to bring a claim for a horse bite. Under the law, horseback riding is an inherently dangerous activity that carries a risk of injury. Thus, a horseback rider assumes the risk that they may be injured. Horse owners may, however, be liable if they provide the rider with an animal with a dangerous nature or faulty equipment that could cause the horse to react by biting.
Veterinarians and horse professionals
People who work with horses, such as veterinarians, horse trainers, or stable hands, choose to engage in a profession with the inherent risks associated with handling large and sometimes unruly animals. These professionals also assume the risk that they may be injured on the job. Owners are generally only liable if the horse professional shows that the owner knew of the animal’s dangerous nature and failed to warn them of it.
What If a Horse Bites You?
There are several steps you can take if a horse bites you.
Seek Medical Attention
First, you should
seek medical attention. Horse bites cause significant injury. Plus, medical records are helpful evidence in a horse bite case.
Collect Witnesses and Information
You’ll want to collect information about the horse’s owner, the property owner, and whether either has horse liability insurance. You’ll also want to gather information from any witnesses to the bite.
Write a Statement
You should write down your best recollection of what happened as soon as possible. Be careful not to share this statement with anyone except your doctor and lawyer.
Watch the Time
Remember that you have only two years to bring a claim for a horse bite injury. Two years can pass quickly, so don’t delay.
Hire an Attorney
Personal injury cases, such as horse bite claims, are complicated. An attorney can help you navigate horse injury rules and exceptions to ensure you receive your due compensation.
Contact Our Horse Bite Attorneys Today
If you have been injured by a horse bite or another animal attack, you need a compassionate and knowledgeable litigator who will protect your rights while you focus on healing. At Silva Injury Law, our attorneys can help you navigate California’s animal injury law to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today.
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At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.