Exotic Animal Bite Injuries and Liability

April 9, 2019

Dog Bite Attorney in Allentown, PA

Have you been injured in an exotic animal attack — at a zoo, garden, circus, or even in a residential area where the animal has a permitted individual owner?  Depending on the circumstances of the injury, Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action against the owner for damages.

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, we have successfully litigated numerous animal bite cases, with significant results obtained through settlement and trial.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you pursue your claims.

Exotic Wildlife Ownership is Limited and Strict

In Pennsylvania, exotic wildlife possession is extremely limited and highly regulated.  An exotic animal may only be possessed by public zoological parks/gardens, nationally-recognized circuses, and individuals with the necessary permits.

Individual permits are granted for each exotic animal, and the individual must have at least two years of hands-on experience in a licensed facility, as well as house the animal in a safe and sanitary manner that adequately protects the public from the dangers of such wildlife.

If an exotic animal owner fails to satisfy the legal requirements, they could be exposed to civil and criminal penalties.

Imposing Liability

As a foundational matter, it’s important to understand that exotic animal owners must exercise due care in safeguarding the public from attack.  Failure to do so could give you — the injured plaintiff — a right to sue and recover damages for the suffered losses.

Whether the owner is liable will generally turn on two considerations: 1) evaluating the standard of care, and 2) contributory fault.

Owners are not absolute guarantors of safety, but their conduct will be weighed against that of a reasonable person who is similarly situated.  In other words, when determining whether the defendant failed to exercise “due care,” the court will evaluate whether another person or entity with the same exotic animal (and with similar training and resources) would have been able to prevent the attack.  As exotic animal permitting is so strict, this standard of care is quite high and therefore it is “easier” to establish that the defendant has violated the standard of care.

Defendants may also attempt to avoid liability through comparative fault.  Pennsylvania applies modified comparative fault, which prevents recovery in personal injury situations where the plaintiff is 50 percent or more at fault.  For example, if you willingly stick your hand into a tiger cage, then the court might find that you are 70 or 80 percent at fault.  Under such circumstances, you would not be entitled to damages.

Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC for a Free Consultation

Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC is a plaintiff’s-side personal injury litigation firm serving those who have suffered harm in a variety of situations, including dog bite and exotic animal bite scenarios.

Our team of Allentown dog bite attorneys boasts decades of experience representing clients at every stage of the litigation process.  We are well-prepared litigators who are willing and able to take a case all the way through to trial, if necessary — this gives us the ability to exercise additional leverage in settlement negotiations and secure a more favorable result for our clients in the pre-litigation phase.

If you’d like to speak to one of our attorneys about your exotic animal bite claims, then we encourage you to call 610-433-3910 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  We are standing by to assist you with any and all litigation-related inquiries that you may have.