Thursday, July 31, 2008

Neither owned nor domesticated animal, attacks: Who is liable?

A ferocious bear attacked a 57-year old in Kern County just this week. A news reported that the bear mauled a woman and one of her two dogs during a morning walk.

The woman who wasn’t named suffered severe laceration of the face and scalp. She was able to escape the attack and managed to drive into a nearby fire station to get help.

She was airlifted to the UCLA Medical Center where she was treated.

Due to the peculiar circumstances of the case, I don’t think the woman can file an animal attack injury claim.

Nobody owns the bear. It was an untamed animal living in the wilderness. Neither does the area where the animal used to roam around was owned by a single person. Who then can be held liable?

Your guess is as good as mine. To consider the Bureau of Land Management, the forest rangers or the county liable is going over the top.

But had the bear been owned, say by a park or by an individual, the woman would have had the legal recourse of recovering from such owner or possessor of the animal.

Like in cases where dogs attack human, the victim will most probably sue its owner. The liability of the owner is based on his negligence in handling his animals. The law allows the victim to recover for compensation for incurred medical and hospital expenses including, in some cases, loss of income and pain and suffering.

What happened to the woman was unfortunate but she wasn’t unlucky enough not to escape the animal attack. The attack was theorized to be the result of ongoing 37,000 acres mountain fires in the area which drives bears to hunt for food and water outside their habitat.