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August 31 - Newsblog #1
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Homeowner and Wife Sue over Police Shooting
September 7 - Newsblog #2
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Homeowner’s Possession of Handgun Legal Under 2nd Amendment
September 14 - Newsblog #3
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: if a Government or Government Agency is at Fault, You Can Sue
September 21 - Newsblog #4
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Lawsuit Against Police Department Invokes the Civil Rights Act
September 28 - Newsblog #5
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: a Clear Line from the Action – or Inaction – to the Injury
October 12 - Newsblog #6
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Police Insensitivity Turns Traffic Stop into a Travesty
October 19 - Newsblog #7
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Police Who Abuse Power Must Be Held Accountable, Law Professor States
October 26 - Newsblog #8
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Holding Overly Aggressive Police Accountable
November 2 - Newsblog #9
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Brown Vs. Impd Case About Much More Than Punishment or Money
November 9 - Newsblog #10
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Improper Medical Diagnosis and Care Resulted in Loss of an Eye
November 16 - Newsblog #11
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Medical Malpractice Claims Have a Front End and a Back End
November 30 - Newsblog #12
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Truths About Medical Malpractice
December 7 - Newsblog #13
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Yes, You Can Sue City Hall
December 14 - Newsblog #14
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Slip and Fall Changes Two Lives Forever
December 28 - Newsblog #15
In the News: Ramey & Hailey Year in Review
January 4 - Newsblog #16
In the News: Teen’s Sexual Abuse Case Calls Attention to the Problem
January 11 - Newsblog #17
In the News: Parents of Survivor Sue Parents of Shooter
January 18 - Newsblog #18
In the News: Erin Brockovich Teams Up with Indiana Moms
January 25 - Newsblog #19
Your Injury Attorneys in the News: Case Settled in Favor of Catastrophic Slip and Fall Injury Victim
January 31 - Newsblog #20
In the News: Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Rehab Facility
February 8 - Newsblog #21
In the News: Nurse Arrested in Sexual Abuse Case
February 15 - Newsblog #22
In the News: Running the Clock on Indiana Medical Malpractice
February 22 - Newsblog #23
In the News: to Repeal or Not to Repeal – Indiana Legislators Rule “not”
March 1 - Newsblog #24
In the News: Helping Physicians Keep Helping
March 8 - Newsblog #25
In the News: Parents of Brain-damaged Infant Sue Hospital
March 15 - Newsblog #26
In the News: Owner of Gun Wins Decision
March 22 - Newsblog #27
In the News: Indiana House Passes Long Term Care Protections Bill
April 5 - Newsblog #28
In the News: Slip-and-fall Victim Wins Right to Sue Dollar Tree
April 12 - Newsblog #29
In the News: Inspection Report Shows Vets Harmed at 52 Nursing Homes
April 19 - Newsblog #30
In the News: Sandwich Diversion Causes Fatal Two-semitrailer Crash
April 26 - Newsblog #31
In the News: Does Premises Liability Cover Goose Attacks?
May 10 - Newsblog #32
Two-week-old N.y. Verdict Offers Takeaways for Slip and Fall Victims
May 17 - Newsblog #33
In the News: Barrel Blast Triggers Wrongful Death Lawsuit
May 24 - Newsblog #34
In the News: when a Product Manufacturer is Not at Fault
May 31 - Newsblog #35
In the News – College Doc’s Sexual Abuse of Students Coming to Light
June 7 - Newsblog #36
In the News – One Week, Four Motorcycle Accidents
June 14 - Newsblog #37
List of Troubled Nursing Homes Released
June 21 - Newsblog #38
In the News: Kansas No-caps Ruling Changes Personal Injury Climate
June 28 - Newsblog #39
In the News: Jury Awards $10.5 Million for Pain and Suffering in Birth Injury Case
July 5 - Newsblog #40
In the News: More Indicted in Last Year’s Duck Boat Tragedy
July 17 - Newsblog #41
In the News: Richard Hailey on Litigation Team for Lawsuit Vs. Tesla
July 24 - Newsblog #42
In the News: Malpractice Lawsuit Yields Largest Award in History
August 28 - Newsblog #43
In the News: Trucks V. Passenger Cars – Score 18:116. Everybody Loses
December 4 - Newsblog #44
In the News: High School Chaplain Suspended on Allegations of Sexual Abuse
December 11 - Newsblog #45
In the News: Franklin, Indiana Continues to Face Toxic Waste Problem
December 11 - Newsblog #46
In the News: Franklin, Indiana Continues to Face Toxic Waste Problem
December 18 - Newsblog #47
In the News: Parents of Bus Accident Victim Awarded $20 Million
January 8 - Newsblog #48
In the News: Parents Sue After Daughter’s Brain Damaged in Surgery
January 10 - Newsblog #49
In the News: Trucking Accidents Due to Careless Driving Increase
January 29 - Newsblog #50
In the News: Trucking Accidents Due to Careless Driving Increase
February 19 - Newsblog #51
Indiana Authorities Buy More Time to Prosecute Child Abusers
February 26 - Newsblog #52
In the News: Teen Brain-injured at Birth Awarded $15.1 Million
March 4 - Newsblog #53
In the News: Did Connecticut School Officials Turn a Deaf Ear to Sexual or Physical Abuse?
March 18 - Newsblog #54
In the News: Facility Held to Blame for Medical Treatment Delivered in a Careless and Negligent Manner
April 1 - Newsblog #55
In the News: Emergency Measures Instituted in Indiana’s Judicial System
April 8 - Newsblog #56
In the News: Medical Malpractice Limits Challenged in California
April 15 - Newsblog #57
In the News: Indiana Supreme Court Issues Five Orders for Legal Proceedings
May 6 - Newsblog #58
In the News: Nursing Homes with Covid-19 Cases Have Been Violating Federal Infection Control Rules for Years
May 13 - Newsblog #59
In the News: Physician Not Negligent in Choosing One Treatment over Another
May 20 - Newsblog #60
In the News: Nursing Homes with Covid-19 Cases Have Been Violating Federal Infection Control Rules for Years
June 17 - Newsblog #61
In the News: Ruling Reverse on Police Shooting – New News, Old Story?
July 8 - Newsblog #62
In the News: What is This Thing Called Qualified Immunity?
July 15 - Newsblog #63
In the News: Sooner or Later for Virus-delayed Jury Trials
July 29 - Newsblog #64
In the News: Truck Driver Sentenced, Another Charged in Fatal Crashes
August 5 - Newsblog #65
In the News: Double-booked Doctors Cause Personal Injury to Patients
August 12 - Newsblog #66
In the News: Double-booked Doctors Cause Personal Injury to Patients
August 26 - Newsblog #67
In the News: $4.9m Auto Accident Settlement Teaches Many Lessons
September 2 - Newsblog #68
In the News: Negligence Unmasked at Pennsyvania Trial
September 9 - Newsblog #69
In the News: Double-booked Doctors Cause Personal Injury to Patients
October 7 - Newsblog #70
In the News: Heart Rhythm Drug Poisoned Patient’s Lungs
October 14 - Newsblog #71
In the News: Prisoner Vs. Prison – a Tale of Two Medical Negligence Lawsuits
October 28 - Newsblog #72
In the News: Richard Hailey Serves As Co-counsel in Tragic Texas Medical Malpractice Case
November 4 - Newsblog #73
In the News: Richard Hailey Serves As Co-counsel in Tragic Medical Malpractice Case
November 18 - Newsblog #74
In the News: Two-year-old Shoots Mom in Tragic Reminder of the Need for Safe Storage of Guns
December 30 - Newsblog #75
In the News: when ‘ghost Guns’ Cause Real Deaths
January 13 - Newsblog #76
In the News: when Police Dogs Cause Personal Injury to the Innocent
January 27 - Newsblog #77
In the News: Old List of Six Proves Very Relevant Today
March 17 - Newsblog #78
In the News: Toxic Talc Still a Problem
April 14 - Newsblog #79
Think You Don’t Need a Doctor After Being Hit by a Car? Think Again!
May 5 - Newsblog #80
In the News: Historic Police Reform and Training Bill Signed into Law
June 2 - Newsblog #81
In the News: Shaquille Kelly Shot by Police in Ft. Wayne
June 9 - Newsblog #82
In the News: Cement Plant to Pay $700k for Spewing Pollutants
July 7 - Newsblog #83
In the News: Vehicular Homicide Result of Impairment and Speed

Litigation Newsletter

Avoiding Strict Liability by Making Safe a Dangerous Animal or Ultrahazardous Activity

Typically, owners of dangerous animals and others engaged in ultrahazardous activities owe an absolute duty to make the animal or activity safe. Failing to do so could subject the animal’s owner or the individual responsible for the ultrahazardous activity to strict liability for any resulting injuries to property or foreseeable victims (individuals to whom a reasonable person would have foreseen a risk of harm).

Strict Liability vs. Negligence

The doctrine of strict liability generally allows individuals injured as a result of another’s failure to make safe a dangerous animal or ultrahazardous activity to recover for their injuries without proving fault. For example, the owner of a wild animal can be strictly liable to an individual injured as a result of the animal escaping from its cage, even if the animal escaped without any fault on the owner’s part. As such, cases based on strict liability can be distinguished from cases based on negligence, which typically require the injured party to demonstrate some degree of fault (e.g., that the owner knew or should have known that the animal could escape).

Prima Facie Case for Strict Liability

An injured party must demonstrate the following elements to establish a prima facie case for strict liability:

  1. The existence of an absolute duty to make a dangerous animal or an ultrahazardous activity safe;
  2. Breach of that duty;
  3. That the breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of injury (e.g., no unforeseeable intervening cause existed); and
  4. Damage to a person or property.

However, in order to recover under strict liability, the damage to a person or property must have resulted from the “normally dangerous propensity” of the dangerous animal or ultrahazardous activity (e.g., the kind of danger the animal or activity is known for). In line with this limitation, the owner and operator of a dynamite truck would be strictly liable to a bystander injured as a result of the truck exploding, but might not be strictly liable if the bystander was injured as a result of the truck’s blowing a tire.

Strict Liability for Dangerous Animals

Owners of wild animals (e.g., lions, bears) are strictly liable for the damage caused by the trespass of such animals (if reasonably foreseeable) and for the injuries inflicted upon other people by wild animals. The rationale behind this rule is that wild animals can never be fully tamed, and are subsequently considered to be inherently dangerous.

In contrast, owners of domestic animals (e.g., dogs, cats) are generally not strictly liable for the damage caused by trespass or for the injuries caused by such animals. The rationale behind this rule is that domestic animals can often be characterized as inherently non-dangerous. However, the owner of a domestic animal can be strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal if the owner has knowledge that the animal is particularly or abnormally dangerous, such as when the animal has a history of aggressive behavior or biting. In fact, strict liability attaches in a case where the owner has knowledge of the dangerous propensities of a domestic animal, even if the animal has never injured anyone before.

Dog Bite Statutes

In addition, some states have “dog bite” statutes, pursuant to which the owners of dogs can be held strictly liable for dog-bite injuries, even if they had no reason to know the animal was dangerous. In these states, a dog owner is not required to have knowledge of their dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities in order to be held strictly liable if the dog bites or attacks someone.

Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activities

Individuals engaged in ultrahazardous activities may also be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the activity. Generally, courts will find an activity to be ultrahazardous if it meets the following three requirements:

  1. Activity involves a substantial risk of serious harm to person or property;
  2. Activity cannot be performed without risk of serious harm no matter how much care is exercised; and
  3. Activity is not commonly engaged in by persons in the community.

Examples of ultrahazardous activities can include blasting, manufacturing explosives, crop dusting and fumigating.

Defenses in Strict Liability Cases

Trespassers generally may not recover under strict liability. This means that a landowner will usually not be strictly liable for injuries inflicted upon a trespasser by a wild animal or abnormally dangerous domestic animal on their land. Rather, landowners are usually only strictly liable when the individuals injured came onto the land as an invitee (e.g., someone hired to do work on the land) or a licensee (e.g., a social guest). However, trespassers may recover under strict liability when the trespasser’s injuries were inflicted by a vicious watchdog that the landowner kept to protect his property (because the landowner knows the watchdog is likely to cause serious bodily harm even to trespassers).

Another defense to strict liability is contributory negligence, in cases where the injured person failed to exercise the degree of care of a reasonable person, and knew of the danger of acting unreasonably. For example, an injured person could be barred from recovering damages under strict liability if they provoked the animal that injured them.

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