Categories: Law

Woman claims $250,000 compensation for cat bite

Bend, Oregon, USA: The first thing to note is that it is possible and practical to claim compensation if a cat owned by another person bites you and the bite causes serious injury, pain and suffering and consequential financial loss by whatever means such as being unable to work.

This photo is for illustrative purposes only.

In this instance, a cleaner, Jenifer Holland, went into a house to clean it. The house owners, Sarah Reynolds-Jackson and Joshua Chambers, weren’t there but their cat was. Holland entered the house using a hidden key. The cat ran out. She bent down to call the cat back at which point the cat bit her finger. The woman claims that she had to have two surgeries costing her $107,000. There must have been other losses such as pain and suffering and loss of earnings. As a result she is claiming $257,317 in all. The claim seems exaggerated which is normal.

The argument will be that the cat’s owners were aware that their cat might become agitated around the stranger (or is an aggressive cat – unlikely) and therefore the cat might bite a stranger if the cat was alone with that stranger in or near the house which appears to be the case. In other words it was foreseeable. In fact I have learned that the claimant states that the defendants knew that their cat was aggressive. She says that the cat’s owners have admitted to it! A bad move by the owners if this is true. They will deny it at court.

It could be argued that most cats might become agitated if left alone in close proximity to a stranger and therefore the owner should make sure that this does not occur if they wish to completely eliminate the possibility of being a defendant in a claim for negligence in civil law. But this is impractical for indoor/outdoor cats. There must be millions of encounters between cat and stranger in the USA daily. But nothing untoward happens or if it does a claim is not made. Normally the person does not interact with the cat. In this instance the cleaner was probably concerned that the cat might disappear and become lost and so interacted. I sense that the cleaner has a case but her damages will be much less than claimed.

There may be some mitigating circumstances. The cleaning lady may have mishandled the cat but as there are no witnesses she can say what she likes. It will be up to the judge to decide whether she is truthful are not. The plaintiff (the cleaner who was bitten) may have been negligent herself if she failed to treat the bite or deal with it expeditiously. If left untreated some bites can develop into nasty infections but if treated promptly there is little to be concerned about. Judging by her medical bill she appears to have been negligent. This would be ‘contributory negligence’ and it could reduce the amount of her damages substantially and possibly almost totally if her claim was successful.

However, I think the important aspect of this story is that it is possible for a cat owner to become liable in a claim for compensation because of the behaviour of their cat. There are quite a few cases on the Internet where this has happened. Normally dogs are the culprits and therefore there is lots of case law on compensation for animal bites.

Source: katu.com

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Michael I don't know how it works in the UK but in the US a worker that injures themselves on the job is usually required to report it to their employer right away. Sadly most people think an injury might be a payday and don't understand that even though they were injured through no fault of their own they must mitigate their damages with prompt treatment.

    • Similar in the UK. It is human nature. There's lots of scamming in the UK in getting compensation for spurious injuries. The latest is holiday stomach bugs. There were 35,000 cases in the UK last year. Brits going abroad to Europe and claiming they got a stomach upset and claiming the cost of the holiday and a couple of grand in compensation.

  • If the owners were aware the cat should have been contained. My cats don't bite but I don't put them in a position to do it. I have a great cat sitter and he was told to NOT try and handle them. He was there to check their well being.
    After the bite if the cleaning lady failed to take proper care of the would she then failed to mitigate her own damages. You can't let your arm fall off after a non life threatening injury and then try and stick it on the pets owners.
    I will add that in this day and age cleaning personnel or their agencies usually ask about pets in the home before coming they do when I have to hire someone to do a home repair.
    Since my husband was treated for a cat bite 20 years ago I can tell you that it can become infected quickly but even then the treatment was ell under 1000 dollars so I have to wonder that even allowing for inflation this sounds more like a payday where everyone has insurance than actual pain and suffering and being reimbursed for medical care.

  • A dog, or any other species of animal that is kept for pets, when it bites or attacks a person it is destroyed, no questions asked. The animal and its owner is always 100% at fault for clearly obvious reasons. Why do you think that police have complete legal freedom to destroy anyone's animal on their own property if the police instantly deem the animal to be threatening in even the slightest manner. The police don't even have to be attacked or bitten to make it legal to destroy the animal, it need only growl or snarl at the policeman for the owners to lose the right to keep that animal, lost with the animal's life.

    Why do you feel that cat-bites and cat-attacks, which cause far more life-threatening hospitalizations and far more expensive hospitalizations every year than any other species of animal kept for pets, should be treated different than any other species we keep for pets?

    Do you feel that you and your cats are better than all other humans and all other animals on earth? That you deserve more privilege and total freedom from your being responsible for your own pets' behaviors? What isyour explanation for these absurd beliefs and amoral values of yours that you espouse on a regular basis....

    Remainder rude and insulting therefore deleted. (Admin)

    • The animal and its owner is always 100% at fault for clearly obvious reasons.

      Complete BS as usual. You are an arrogant, ignorant, aggressive arsehole of the highest order and you need to be stopped.

      In fact your entire comment is dripping with bile, BS and hatred of the cat.

    • You are a complete idiot.
      https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/animal-bite-accident-statistics.html

      The police cannot without cause shoot your pet unless there is real justification. If they do you can join one of the many successful lawsuits against individual and usually fired officers or police departments.

      Not all animal attacks are the fault of the owner. Since we don't have all the facts of this lawsuit you have drawn a conclusion based on your hatred of cats.
      I hole pet owners responsible for their animals behaviors and my neighbors (relatives) are on notice that I will defend myself against any loose dog and we will sue them if their dogs night long barking starts up again.
      A housekeeper has some professional responsibility to know about the animals and their disposition in a home she was hired to clean. If she works with an agency they should also be added to the lawsuit as they were negligent in making sure she was entering a safe environment. Everyone from the meter man to the local handyman now ask about the pets in your home before showing up for the job. Most ask that the pet be contained.

  • I don't know if personal injury cases in the UK are like ours, but medical costs can skyrocket due to an aggressive push for a higher percentage by the lawyers. When I had a motorcycle accident I was banged up but the treatments I got were questionable and ate up most of the maximum amount that she was covered for (she being who caused my injuries). The lawyer (as you know) gets a gross percentage that is unaffected by whatever goes for medical... and I got what was left. Quite the racket.

    • The NHS would treat the injuries here so they'd be free at the point of delivery. But lawyers are greedy and expensive and it would no-win-no-fee. It is a racket as you say.

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