Cats are often more unpredictable than dogs in how they react to people. Many are very friendly and rarely show any aggression. However, others are more standoffish or mean-spirited and may attack strangers. This situation recently occurred to you when you visited a friend: their cat scratched or bit you when you were handling it.
Most of the time, this type of injury is nothing serious. In fact, it is often harder to pursue a lawsuit of this type, particularly if you somehow contributed to the cat's aggressive behavior. However, if you develop the disease known as cat scratch fever after a bite, there is a good chance that you could have a lawsuit on your hand.
Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection that causes symptoms such as fatigue, headache, body aches, fever, weight loss, abdominal pain, and even nausea. While it is rarely a serious or deadly disease, it may keep you out of work for a week or more and require specialized treatment. In this scenario, you may be able to sue your friend for lost wages, medical treatment, and other damages.
The toughest part of your case is going to be proving that your friend's cat bit you without provocation. It has to be something the cat did on its own, as it displays aggressive behavior that its owners know about. That's the trick: your friend has to be negligent in protecting you from a potentially aggressive cat.
This negligence occurs when they don't warn you about an aggressive cat or let you handle them knowing they have bitten in the past. That said, not all cat bites are truly aggressive. For example, there is a good chance a cat bit you for the following reasons:
- Playful Bites – Some cats bite when they play and aren't trying to hurt you.
- "Love" Bites – When some felines are petted too much, they might get overstimulated and bite, even if they are happy.
- Rough Handling – Most cats will tolerate being handled but some will get sick of it really quickly. If you are roughly handling a cat, they may bite you in self defense.
In some cases, you might be able to argue that the owner is liable even if you contributed because you developed a disease after their cat bit you. While you may have been negligent in your behavior, they were more negligent because they didn't protect their cat or you from this disease. This concept is known as comparative negligence and is a complex issue to argue. That's why a personal injury lawyer is so important in cases like these. They can make sure your suit is viable and winnable.