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Animal Attack Cases

Horse Caused Motorcycle Collision, Crash Results in Amputation of Plaintiff’s Leg

In May 2004, plaintiff was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her husband on Rte. 537 in North Hanover. The motorcycle was hit by car driven by defendant, who was swerving to avoid a horse in the roadway. Both husband and wife sustained serious and permanent injuries.  Plaintiff motorcycle driver fractured his left arm. His wife lost her left leg above the knee.

The plaintiffs sued the horse’s owner, and the driver of the vehicle that collided with them, for negligence and the wife filed a separate suit against her husband. Both plaintiffs sought unspecified damages for pain and suffering.

Against the horse owner, the plaintiffs claimed it failed to lock its horse’s stable, thus allowing it to escape. Against the vehicle driver, the plaintiffs claimed that she was negligent and that she should have been able to avoid the horse without colliding into the motorcycle.  The defendants asserted a general denial as to liability.

The parties agreed to a global settlement of $4.275 million which the husband and wife will receive.  Of this amount the stable owner paid $4 million, the driver paid $200,000 and the plaintiffs insurer (Aegis) paid $75,000.

Bull Rider Claims Dime-sized Horn Poked His Eye out at Rodeo Event

In the fall of 1999, Plaintiff lost his left eye while competing in a bull riding event in Glens Fall, New York.  The diameter of the horn size of Plaintiff’s bull, which was provided by defendant organizer, was only the size of a dime, and Plaintiff claimed that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association regulations require bull horns to be tipped by the stock contractor to the diameter of a half dollar, not a dime.

Plaintiff fell from the bull and the dime size horn penetrated the bridge of his nose, severed his optic nerve and removed his eyeball. His optic nerve was torn and he has an enucleated left eye. He underwent surgery to rebuild the bridge of his nose. He is completely blind in his left eye. His medical bills were covered by an accident health policy and there were no lost earnings claimed. He sought an unspecified amount for past and future pain and suffering.

Plaintiff sued the organizer and the stock contractor for negligence, claiming that the defendants fostered a dangerous situation by allowing the bull into the competition. Plaintiff introduced video footage showing someone pointing to the horn on Plaintiff’s bull and commenting on its sharpness.  The defense challenged the video, arguing that it merely showed Plaintiff’s friend looking at the bull more closely, but never mentioned the horn’s size.

Defense counsel argued that Plaintiff had ridden in 150 competitions prior to the incident and signed a release acknowledging that he knew about and assumed the potential risks inherent in bull riding. Plaintiff’s counsel challenged the release, arguing that the waiver applied to reasonable risks and Plaintiff’s injury was an unknown risk. Plaintiff testified that he knew he could be killed by the bull and had the option of selecting a different bull. A plaintiff expert admitted that the same injury could have occurred to the Plaintiff if the bull’s horn had been regulation size if there was enough force involved.

Although the case was tried in Salem County Superior Court, the trial was based on New York law.  At the conclusion of trial, the jury found for the plaintiff and awarded him $1.5 million. The jury found that all of the defendants assumed a total of 60% liability and found Plaintiff 40% liable. Therefore, the award was reduced to $991,686.  Specialty Program Insurers was the insurance carrier for the defendants.

Woman Thrown from Horse Breaks Leg and Alleges Negligence-superior Court of New Jersey Disagrees

A woman suffered a femur fracture and cervical strain when she was thrown off the  defendant’s horse. The plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly position the horse on the trail ride. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in failing to assume the risk.  The New Jersey Trial Court agreed with the defendant in this case, and the woman did not recover for her injuries.

Woman Suffers Severe Facial Lacerations and Back Injuries When Bull Attacks Car

A woman in Salem County suffered severe lacerations on her face, resulting in scarring of the forehead, and cervical and lumbar sprains, resulting in permanent pain and limited motion, when the vehicle in which she was a passenger was attacked by a bull owned by the defendant rodeo company. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to restrain the bull. The defendant denied liability and instead contended that it was the plaintiff who was comparatively negligent.  The case was arbitrated and the defendant’s insurance carrier, Selective Insurance Company, agreed with Plaintiff and settled the case for $231,000.

Young Girl in Car Suffers Severe Facial Lacerations When Rodeo Bull Hits the Vehicle

An minor female suffered severe facial injuries and scarring when the vehicle in which she was a passenger was struck by a bull owned by the defendant rodeo. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to properly secure the bull.  The defendant eventually accepted responsibility for the accident and plaintiff’s injuries, and the case settled out of court for $120,000.

No Recovery For Cervical Injuries Due to Collision With Cow

Recently in Salem County, a man was injured when his car was struck by a cow, which had escaped its enclosure maintained by the defendant.  The plaintiff suffered various minor injuries including sprains and strains of his back and shoulder due to the collision.  He claimed that the defendant was negligent in not containing the animal and allowing it to enter the roadway, resulting in the collision.  The defendant denied that he was liable and argued that it was the plaintiff driver who was at fault, not the defendant (or the cow).  The case went to trial and the Salem County jury agreed with the defendant.  The plaintiff did not recover anything for his injuries.

Facial Injury From Ferret Attack Nets Female Plaintiff Negligence Award

A young woman was injured and suffered significant facial scarring when the defendant’s pet ferret bit her left cheek.  The case did not settle and eventually went to trial in Salem County Superior Court.  At trial, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants failure to control and/or supervise the ferret was the cause of her injury and that hence the defendant was negligent.  The defendant denied that he was liable for her injuries and instead claimed that she contributed to the accident and was therefore responsible.  The jury believed the plaintiff, and awarded her $24, 580.

Baby Attacked By Terrier Suffers Facial Scarring

In this case, a 1 year and 4 month old baby boy was attacked and bitten by a terrier owned by the defendant.  He suffered several bite wounds to his face, mouth and chest, which left visible scarring.  The scars were permanent.

Plaintiff’s parents bought suit on his behalf against the dog’s owner, in Morris County Superior Court.  The defendant admitted to liability, and the case went to trial by jury on just the issue of damages.  At trial, plaintiffs doctors confirmed that the scarring was permanent, and defendants countered that the scarring was not extensive or noticeable.  The jury awarded $2000, and that amount was eventually increased to $27,000.

Broken Shoulder Suffered By Motorcyclist Hit By Cow

A man was riding his motorcycle in Warren County, New Jersey when he collided with a cow.  The 37 year old man fell and fractured his scapula.  He sued the defendant in Superior Court, claiming that the defendant’s failure to keep the cow on his property and allowing it to wander into the street constituted negligence on the part of the defendant.  Defendant denied liability and denied that he even owned the cow.  The jury believed the plaintiff and he was awarded $19,000 for his injury.

Man Attacked By Pitt Bull Suffers Genital Injury

A man visiting an apartment complex in Morris County was attacked and bitten on the genitals by a pit bull.  The attack was unprovoked, and the 39 year old man was severely injured.  He filed suit against the complex, as the pit bull was owned by the property manager.  The suit claimed that the employee manager was negligent because he failed to contain the dog, and failed to warn of the viciousness of the animal.  The defendant denied liability at first, but eventually settled the case out of court for $500,000.


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