California woman contracts rabies after being bitten by a cat

Posted on February 15, 2013 by

On behalf of The Law Office of Marvin S. Lanter posted in Premises Liability on Friday, February 15, 2013.

When an animal bites a person, there could be serious consequences for both the animal and the animal’s owner. When an animal attacks, not only could the pet owner risk losing their pet, but they could end up facing a lawsuit by the injured victim.

A California woman contracted rabies after being bitten by a cat. The cat is believed to be a pet, and was unvaccinated for the disease. They woman was being treated for the bite with rabies shots. While wild animals can carry rabies, it is not unknown for household pets to also contract the disease. In California, it is mandatory for dog owners to have their pets vaccinated for rabies, and it is strongly encouraged to have cats vaccinated as well. A local animal care center will be providing rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats over the next three weeks at a cost of five dollars per pet. All proceeds will go to a county spay/neuter program.

When a dog or cat bites someone, the victim could sue the animal’s owners for their injuries. There are two theories the lawsuit could be brought under. Some states follow a strict liability theory in animal attacks. Under this theory, an owner is liable for their pet’s actions even if they took precautionary steps, such as posting signs or chaining the animal, to prevent possible attacks. In addition, the animal owner may be liable even if they had no reason to believe their pet could be a danger to others.

In other states, a pet owner is liable if their pet bites someone only if they knew or should have known the pet had dangerous propensities. Determining what constitutes dangerous propensities is tricky. Courts will consider the animal’s breed and size, and whether the dog has bitten someone before. They will also consider whether the animal was kept for protective purposes. If the victim told someone the animal was dangerous or put up signs to that effect, this could also be used to show the owner knew the pet had dangerous propensities.
Victims of pet bites could receive compensation for their injuries, including compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. By bringing a lawsuit against the pet owner, victims of pet bites may be awarded the financial resources they need to recover from the bite.

Source:, “Santa Rosa: Person treated after being bitten by rabid cat,” Feb. 02, 2013

© 2017 The Law Office of Marvin S. Lanter, Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer. All Rights Reserved.
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