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Exotic pet owners have to contend with the actions of their pet. Are they liable for injuries caused by their pets?

Are exotic pet owners liable for injuries

Exotic pets are animals that are considered wild and thus rarely kept at home as pets. Some people have exotic pets like venomous snakes, spiders, crocodiles, big cats, etc. This can put people nearby in danger, which raises concerns on whether these owners are liable for injuries. Yes, the owners of exotic pets are held liable if their pet causes physical injury.

Exotic pets include amphibians like frogs, mammals like big cats and bears, reptiles like snakes and crocodiles, invertebrates like spiders and scorpions, and birds like parrots or macaws. The ownership of these animals continues to rise each year, putting larger populations at harm. From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of homes that owned exotic animals rose by 12.9%, and the numbers are higher with subsequent years.

Some exotic pets are associated with a low risk of injury to the owners and people around them. Pets like a tortoise or a bird rarely cause major injuries. However, some pets, such as crocodiles, spiders, and snakes, have a high risk of injury and can even lead to death. These pets have brought an emerging concern about the safety of the population in many areas.

Liability held by exotic pets

Exotic pet owners are liable for any physical injury and property damage that their pets cause to anyone around them. They should ensure that their pets, depending on the level of danger they can cause, are caged accordingly. The owners should ensure that the pets do not escape from their home and raise fear and harm to the neighborhood. 

In certain areas of the US, the ownership of exotic animals is legal, while it is illegal in others. Where ownership is illegal, it is rare to hear cases of exotic animal injuries, but the injuries are rampant in areas with the legality of ownership. There is a need to protect the general population in such areas by laying down consequences for the pets’ actions. One way this is made possible is through the exotic animal injury lawsuit or common premises liability cases.

These two options are responsible for giving justice to people who get killed or injured by exotic pets within the owner’s premises or without. Over the past years, several injuries have been reported involving exotic pets.

Every type of injury from exotic pets needs to be adequately assessed and treated by a medical practitioner before it can lead to complications. The injuries range from mild to severe and can be of the venomous or non-venomous type. Venomous injuries are fatal when urgent medical care is not given to the victim.

Statistics from the National Health Services show that there were 709 hospital admissions involving exotic pet injuries between 2004 and 2010. Of these cases, injuries due to a bite or crush by a reptile were the highest.

These patients were hospitalized for a total of 1340 days, while injuries from crocodile strikes or bites and contact with scorpions and venomous snakes and lizards were also reported with high hospitalization time. Furthermore, exotic animals can spread severe infections during an attack through a bite or scratch.

The more severe the injury of the victim, the longer the hospitalization duration required. In turn, the medical bills of the victim increase. Exotic pet owners are responsible for paying any medical bills you incur due to an injury by their exotic pet, from hospital admission fees to ambulance fees.

In case the injury leads to death, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit that will make sure the owner compensates the victimized in one way or another. For example, in Texas, the law requires that each exotic animal owner should have a liability insurance coverage of at least $100,000 for each liability occurrence that causes death, injury, or destruction of property by the pet.

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