LAW 512-001 – Torts II

Domestic Animals


There are three rules for liability concerning domestic animals:

  1. One-Bite Rule

    Some states allow domestic animals "one free bite" for which the owner of the animal cannot be held liable for at all, but they then hold owners strictly liable for any future bites by the animal.

  2. A majority of states impose strict liability if an owner knows or has reason to know that a domestic animal has vicious propensities abnormal to its class.
    • Generally, breed does not matter.
    • If the owner does not know or have reason to know, a negligence standard is used.
  3. Some states set a rule by statute, often doing away with the requirement that a plaintiff prove scienter.
    • (Scienter is the "knows or has reason to know" part.)