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Are horse-bite claims treated like dog bites in California?

When people think of animal attacks, they might imagine someone being bitten and injured by a dog. After all, dog bite cases unfortunately make the news on a regular basis. Despite this perception, the reality is that any type of domestic animal may have a propensity to attack an innocent bystander. For those who are injured by an animal, it may not be exactly clear where to turn or what options are available.

California law has specific provisions for dog bites. Generally speaking, dog owners within the state can be held strictly liable for injuries that result when their dog bites another person. However, the situation might not be as clear cut for those who are bitten by a domestic horse, for example.

Depending on the situation, a horse-bite injury may fall under the guise of common law. This means that if a person is injured by an animal that isn't a dog, certain conditions may have to be met for an injury claim to be successful. Essentially, the horse's owner may not be liable for injuries unless the animal bit someone else previously. This is commonly referred to as the free-bite or one-bite rule.

Simply put, dog bite claims could be handled differently than injuries caused by other types of animals. It's important to note that every personal injury case is different and should be treated as such. Keeping this in mind, this post shouldn't be considered legal advice as it pertains to a specific case.

Notwithstanding differences in laws regarding animal bites, the costs created by these injuries can be substantial. Aside from the expense of medical bills, victims of an animal attack may have to deal with anxiety and lasting physical effects caused by a serious injury.

Source: WestLaw, CA BAJI 6.66

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