Service animals are often the only way that people with disabilities can travel safely. However, that safety net can also be a danger for others. Therefore, it is important to understand the liability a service animal carries.
Service Animals, Injuries and Liabilities
Service animals have been, for many years, a crucial part of the lives of those living with disabilities. They are well-trained, vetted, and signed off by doctors to their patients in need. This is mostly the reason why so many companies and government buildings allow them to roam around without being caged or sometimes even without a leash. This, of course, has caused issues with instances of dogs mistaking people for threats, thus causing bodily harm. So, who’s in the fault in this situation if a dog is merely protecting their human? Read on to learn important legal information concerning service animal liability.
Service Animals and Legal Complexity
One of the most common questions that injury lawyers bring up during court cases is asking why an animal was allowed on board an airplane or within a business when they understood the dangers. They will eventually always be directed towards various disability laws as well as the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act, which has made it difficult for airlines to limit certain animals. This is a large part of airlines being sued right along with the airport and the owner of the service animal. Fortunately, there have been some advancements in this area as lawmakers have made it easier for airline companies to deny exotic animals such as large reptiles or birds.
Owner Liability Exception
Although it can be difficult to pin the blame on one individual, there is an exception. Many states deem certain dog breeds as too dangerous to have in public. If a person knowingly brought in a dangerous dog breed and that dog attacked another person, then they are liable for the damages the service animal created.
Veterinary and Medical Liability
As stated above, service animals go through a lengthy training process to ensure they are ready to aid and protect their owners. In the end, many other entities need to sign off on the dog, including medical and veterinary staff. This could become a legal issue if a dog deemed well-trained and safe attacks another person. These types of lawsuits are still within the courts today, so it’s still not clear as to which direction lawmakers will go towards regarding this issue.