When it comes to animal bites, dogs are usually the main culprit, but cats can become violent and attack too. If you've been the victim of a cat attack, you may be wondering if you have the right to seek damages. To learn more about what to do if a cat has injured you, keep reading.
Cats Are Less Predictable Than Dogs
The problem with cats is that they are less predictable than dogs. A well-trained dog may never bite, lunge or attack even when provoked, but even the best of kitties may get suddenly annoyed for no apparent reason. Unlike an annoyed dog that is trained to behave, an annoyed cat will do whatever it feels necessary to protect itself.
For this reason, many cat owners use the assumed risk defense. In other words, the defendant will claim you knew there was a chance the cat could bite because it is an unpredictable cat. The defense becomes stronger if the cat owner told you about the cat's potentially harmful behavior.
Other owners use the contributorily negligent defense. In this case, the defendant argues you were also responsible for your injuries because of your behavior or actions. For example, a cat owner tells you not to touch their cat's stomach because they don't like it. You do it anyway, and the cat bites you. In this case, you probably have no case because your actions aggravated the cat.
Cats Give You Warnings Before They Attack
Unless a cat is feral or rabid, it probably isn't going to lunge at you without warning like a dog might. For this reason, you need to understand cat body language. Not only will it help protect you from attacks, but if the cat showed no signs of aggression, you may have a better chance of winning your case, depending on your behavior at the time of the attack.
Signs of offensive postures include stiff rear legs with, direct stare, stiff, low tail, upright ears, facing/moving toward you and growling. Signs of defensive postures in cats include crouching, head tucked in, tail curved, flat ears, not looking at you, etc. If a cat is giving offensive postures, get away and if you see defensive postures, leave the cat alone to prevent an attack.
Cat Owners Have a Duty to Warn You of Dangerous Cats
Homeowners have a responsibility to warn you about potential hazards when you visit their property, including potentially dangerous animals. The cat owner should be aware of the cat's behavior and whether or not it has been aggressive in the past.
If so, they must warn you to avoid the cat, and/or keep the cat secured. If you were not warned, or the owner even told you to play with the cat while knowing it is aggressive, you have a better chance of winning your case.
Similarly, if the cat is afraid of dogs or other cats (and is likely to attack or become violent), the owner should warn you not to bring any animals when you visit. If you do bring a dog and the cat attacks it without provocation (you haven't been told about the cat's hatred for dogs), and you are also injured, the defendant may still be found responsible.
Dog bites are usually easy to solve, but when cats get involved, determining who is to blame can be problematic. Cats are unpredictable, but if the owner knows about the cat's past aggressive behavior, they have a duty to warn you. If they neglect to give you warning, and their cat injures you, you deserve restitution for your injuries and pain and suffering. For more information, contact us at Palmetto Injury Lawyers today.