Monday, June 10, 2013

Wild Animals

In regards to strict liability, the most commonly tested area on the MBE appears to be strict products liability. That said, strict liability, and how it relates to the owner of wild animals, makes an appearance very often as well. Below are the rules you should know in that respect going into the exam:

It's important in this area of law (as it is when analyzing negligence) to label those who are entering the land of another as either invitees, licensees, or trespassers. In regards to trespassers, strict liability will not be imposed in favor or trespassers if, while on the land, they suffer harm caused by the dangerous propensities of a wild animal. If such a question is posed, you should only allow for liability in such cases if the owner of the land has been negligent, and even then only if the trespasser was a discovered trespasser, rather than an undiscovered trespasser.

An owner of land is, however, strictly liable to licensees and invitees for injuries caused by the dangerous propensities of a wild animal on the landowner's property. Note that liability may not be allowed if the invitee or licensee did something to bring about the injury (such as instigating the animal), as this could be deemed an assumption of risk, which is generally a defense to actions in strict liability.

Strict liability is not allowable for harm caused by domestic animals, unless the owner of the animal has knowledge of that particular animal's dangerous propensities that are not common to that particular species. This rule is sometimes stated as "all dogs are entitled to one bite." Once the domestic animal has proven itself as especially dangerous, the general rules for wild animals apply.

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