Surprisingly, although California does not have a “one-bite” rule for dog bites, it has one for cat bites. This is because cat bites in California are less common, and because cats are generally not dangerous – unless provoked. The “one-bite” rule simply means this — a cat gets one free bite (chance to bite) or a free showing of a vicious propensity towards a person before the owner can be held liable.
People who are bitten by cats without having provoked the cat may hold the cat owner liable by showing the following:
- That the owner knew that the cat was aggressive or dangerous; and
- That despite the owner knowing of the cat’s vicious propensities, the owner failed to: warn another of the cat’s dangerous propensity or restrain the cat.
A victim who did not provoke a cat, but has been bitten may sue for the following damages, which includes, but is not limited to: pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, medical bills, and lost wages. Although cat bites are not as common as dog bites, they should not be taken lightly. Cats have sharper and longer teeth and can cause deep puncture wounds which can trap bacteria under a victim’s skin. Cat saliva also contains bacteria which can cause people – specifically those with lowered immune systems, the elderly, or children disease. In addition, not everyone obtains the proper vaccinations for their cats.
If you or someone you know has been bitten by an unprovoked cat, it is best to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney or professional to understand, assess and evaluate your situation.
Authored by Scott D. McDonald, Esq.