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What Steps Can I Take To Protect My Rights In An Animal Law Case?

As with any law case, the key to protecting one’s rights is in the documentation and witness testimony. If someone can obtain a quick statement from a witness via their cell phone and document what happened, that will help them. If an animal gets injured, they should be taken to a veterinarian and the medical records should be obtained. Taking these steps will protect a person’s rights and allow them to proceed legally.

What Damages May I Be Entitled To In An Animal Lawsuit?

A person would be entitled to the market value of the property, since animals are unfortunately considered property (which begs the question of why we take animals to veterinary hospitals and not repair shops, and why veterinarians are called doctors and not mechanics). I relatively recently handled a case involving a race horse valued at $1.5 million. If a case involves a 12-year old dog, however, then the property value may be less than $100. With that said, the courts have changed their emphasis a little bit to allow for reasonable veterinary costs and replacement costs (in the range of a couple of thousand dollars for a dog). What people may not realize, however, is that although there are three states which do allow for collection based on emotional distress, but it is capped around $6000 to $8000. There is no collection available for emotional distress in Florida unless the act was intentional or outrageous.

What Is The Equine Liability Act?

One is normally responsible for what happens if their animal causes harm, but it is recognized by those who are involved with equine activities that horses are inherently unpredictable and may spook at something that could not be foreseen. The Equine Liability Act is like a protective blanket for those who have participated in equine activities. For example, if an instructor’s student gets injured during a lesson, the principle is that the instructor should not be held responsible because the student was participating in an activity involving an animal that is subject to kicking, biting, and stumbling. There are certain restrictions to this, such as the need for notices and waivers, and exceptions e.g. for faulty tack, or grossly mismatching a horse with a rider’s known ability.

Is Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Applicable In These Cases?

Comparative or contributory negligence is applicable in animal law cases. Even in the cases where the owner of the animal is held strictly liable, they will still consider any comparative negligence on the part of the person who got hurt, but it’s very much an uphill battle at that stage. Comparative negligence may come into play with dog fights in which both dogs get injured. Under those circumstances, the comparative fault might be assessed at 50 percent.

Additional Information On Animal Law Cases In Florida

The most important thing for people to know about in terms of animal law is that animals are considered property, which means that there is very much a limit in terms of damages. The emotional impact of losing an animal is strong, but the most someone can do is collect on the value of the property.

As previously discussed, one common situation involves people who are trying to get an animal back from someone else. The technical word for that is replevin, which is Latin for “you’ve got my stuff and I want it back.” So, the action that one can take for their animal is exactly the same as it is for a car or any other piece of property.

For more information on Protecting Your Rights In An Animal Law Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (407)-228-2131 today.

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