Multi-Million Dollar Monkey Attack

by David Peel on December 11, 2012

As an injury attorney, I often see and hear some very odd and unusual stories of how folks get hurt, but this severe injury takes the cake!

You might recall that a woman mauled in February 2009, by a 200-pound chimpanzee that ripped off her nose, lips, eyes and hands before police shot the chimp to death. The attack made news both because of the awful severity of the injuries, but also because the victim underwent an actual full-face transplant.

After the chimp’s owner passed away, the victim’s brother sued the estate of the chimp’s owner on his sister’s behalf, seeking $50 million. According to a recent Reuters article, it has been recently been reported that the victim will receive about $4 million from the estate of the animal’s owner.

Tennessee law states that these species may only be possessed by zoos, circuses and commercial propagators as they are animals considered inherently dangerous: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons, siamangs, mandrills, drills, baboons, gelada baboons, wolves, bears and lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamus, African buffalo.

In most states, if your wild or exotic animal injures someone, the doctrine of strict liability applies. Strict liability, also referred to as absolute liability, means that you are liable for any losses suffered by the injured person, even if you weren’t at fault and careless in any way.

Even if little Fido attacks someone, you can be liable to the injured party and risk losing your assets if you lose a lawsuit. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dogs bite 4.5 million Americans each year, and 1 in 5 require medical attention. Generally, if your dog bites someone, you’ll be liable if you knew or should have known that Fido had a tendency to bite or be “vicious” and you did nothing to protect or warn others from being bitten.

In general, your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover you for dog bite claims. However, many insurance companies are putting provisions in their policies that exclude certain breeds of dogs that are considered inherently dangerous, such as Pit Bulls.

If your dog does injure someone, they may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered as a result of the attack, such as scarring, medical bills, lost wages, and their physical and emotional pain and suffering.

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