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Who is liable for an animal attack resulting in wrongful death?

Some people may think that bites from dogs, especially small ones, are not a cause for concern. Unfortunately, even the smallest dog bite can lead to a person’s death.

Moreover, while people are most exposed to dog bites, being a common type of animal attack, injuries and fatalities resulting from wild animal encounters are also possible. For instance, a man in Arizona died after being unprovokedly mauled by a black bear while sipping his coffee one morning.

You never know when these incidents can happen. If it already did happen to your loved one, which caused their wrongful death, you should know who to hold responsible.

If the animal had an owner

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the wrongful death victim’s family can hold the following individuals responsible for damages:

  • The attacking animal’s owners
  • The attacking animal’s keepers, such as zoo or shelter keepers
  • Property owners and landlords where the animal attack happened

For a liability claim to develop, the complainant must show that there was negligence on the part of the accused that resulted in the attack.

In the case of dog bite claims, specific rules apply.

If the animal is undomesticated

In wrongful death cases wherein the attacking animal is wild and undomesticated, the local or state government can be liable, depending on the circumstances. If the case shows that the government should have been able to prevent the animal attack but failed to do so, then the victim and their family might have a case against them. An example of this failure to act is not issuing proper and sufficient warnings to residents and visitors about the existence of wild animals in a certain area.

Hearing your side of the story

Regardless of any feeling of uncertainty, you should talk to people who can help you understand the strength of your case and the legal options surrounding your loved one’s wrongful death.


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