This week, Holcomb Dunbar is starting a new series “Insurance Law from A to Z.” This was put together by our litigation group who practice in the insurance law arena. Of course, if you have questions about these or any other topics please do not hesitate to contact us.
This week’s installment – Animals.
Mississippi follows what is referred to as the “one free bite” rule. However, all that is required is actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous propensity which can be much less than an actual bite.
There must be some proof that the domestic animal has exhibited some dangerous propensity or disposition prior to the complained of attack, that the owner knew or should have known of this propensity or disposition, and that the owner should have foreseen that the animal was likely to attack someone. Poy v. Grayson, 273 So. 2d 491, 494 (Miss. 1973).
It has been held that a dog aggressively growling or chasing after a person is enough to create a jury question whether there was actual or constructive notice of a dangerous propensity. Mongeon v. A & V Enterprises, Inc., 733 So. 2d 170, 172-73 (Miss. 1997).
Livestock (Horses, Cows, etc.)
There is a presumption of negligence against the owner of livestock loose on a federal or state highway or highway rights-of-way which cause damage to property. This presumption does not apply to county roads. The burden is on the owner to show that he was not negligent, see Miss. Code Ann. § 69-13-111, for example, by showing that his fence was in good repair and that he regularly and properly maintained it.
Strict liability applies to trespassing livestock. See Miss. Code Ann. § 69-13-19. For example, if a livestock owner’s cow or horse eats or tramples the crops on the property of another, liability will be automatic.
Owners of wild animals are strictly liable for the personal injury caused by them. Byrnes v. City of Jackson, 140 Miss. 656, 105 So. 861, 863 (1925). For example, an owner would be strictly liable for the injury caused by their pet bear even if the bear was not known to have a dangerous propensity.
The information contained in this post is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this report. Accordingly, the information in this report is provided with the understanding that the authors are not herein engaged in rendering legal, tax, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with your counsel or the attorneys at Holcomb Dunbar.