As a Los Angeles dog bite attorney, I often get asked about cat bites and scratches. “Can I sue the owner of the cat that bitten or scratched me?” people ask me.
In short, you are entitled to monetary compensation if you have been injured due to a cat bite, but only as long as:
- You did nothing to provoke the cat;
- The cat owner knew or should have known that the cat was dangerous or aggressive, and
- The cat owner failed to restrain the cat or provide adequate warning about his or her pet’s dangerous tendencies.
As you can imagine, cat bite lawsuits are less common than dog bite lawsuits in California. Nonetheless, if you have been injured due to a cat bite or scratch, you may be able to recover damages.
Fact: There are nearly 86 million cats owned by Americans in the United States.
Cat bite lawsuits in California: is it possible to sue a cat owner for bites and scratches?
No other animals can compare to cats. Cats are beloved in California and all across the United States. Just Google “cat videos” and see how much Americans love cats. There are nearly 3 billion results when you do a Google search for “cat videos.
Nonetheless, if you have ever played with or petted a cat, you probably know that cats are no strangers to biting and scratching humans for no reason, which is why, as you can imagine, each year, Americans file a plethora of cat bite lawsuits in an attempt to recover compensation for their injuries caused by cat bites and scratches.
“Wait, what? Can you actually sue someone for a cat bite or scratch in California?” “You can,” answers our experienced dog bite attorney from the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg. “Cat attacks may not be as common as dog attacks, yet California laws make it possible to recover damages if you have been bitten or scratched by someone else’s cat.”
Is there a ‘one-bite’ rule for cats in California?
As you may or may not know, unlike other states, California does not have a “one-bite” rule for dogs. Under the legal theory of the “one-bite rule,” dog owners can be held responsible for injuries only if they know or should have known that their dog is vicious or dangerous from prior incidents.
And while California does not have a “one-bite rule” for dogs, it has a “one-bite rule” for cats. That means a cat owner can be held liable for bites and scratches only if there has been a prior incident of an unprovoked bite or attack or the owner had otherwise known that the cat poses a particular kind of risk to others.
Normally, a cat owner is not negligent the first time a cat bites someone in California. In the state, cat owners do not have an obligation to restrain their pet if it has never bitten or attacked anyone when unprovoked. Also, there is no law in California that obliges cat owners to keep their pets indoors.
Proving that a cat is dangerous and vicious
“In other words, if a cat owner knows or should have known that his or her cat is dangerous, vicious, aggressive or prone to hurting people when unprovoked, the cat is considered to have dangerous propensities,” explains our Los Angeles dog bite attorney.
To sum up, under California’s strict liability law, regardless of how carefully a cat owner guards or restrains his or her animal, he/she will be held liable for injuries caused by unprovoked bites or scratches as long as the cat owner knows or should have known about the cat’s dangerous propensities.
If this sounds too confusing or you have a hard time proving that someone else’s cat has dangerous propensities, contact our best lawyers in California. Get a free consultation by calling the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg at 310-997-0904 today.