The recent events in West Farmington, ME, while odd, is not an uncommon occurrence in rural areas. According to police, on March 31, a woman was heading onto a local trail for a run when a cow charged at her, lifting her up off the ground with its horns. The woman was able to escape but suffered a laceration that required stitching.
Domesticated farm animals may appear harmless from afar, but these animals often weigh thousands of pounds and are unpredictable. They can cause serious injuries to untrained members of the public if they escape their typical enclosures. Escaped livestock can cause serious injuries, car accidents, and even death.
What’s the law say about cow and other livestock injuries?
What is commonly known as the “Dog Bite Statute" in Maine applies to all animals and not just dogs. The statute states, “When an animal damages a person or that person's property due to negligence of the animal's owner or keeper, the owner or keeper of that animal is liable in a civil action to the person injured.”
Just like a dog owner is responsible for always maintaining control of their dog, so too are the owners of livestock. Typically, that control is maintained by keeping livestock in pens or fenced areas. The question in any injury case is whether the owner of the livestock was negligent in that duty. Livestock shouldn’t be able to escape from their enclosures and when they do it is typically the result of someone’s failure to close a gate or properly maintain a fence.
Why should you hire a lawyer when injured by a farm animal?
An attorney investigating the situation in West Farmington would investigate the following issues to determine whether the owner or keeper of the cow is responsible for the woman’s injuries:
- Who is the owner or keeper of the animal and the land from which it escaped
- How did the animal escape its enclosure
- Have other animals or even the same animal escaped in the past
- What did the owner or keeper of the cow do in response to the animal escaping its enclosure
Every case is unique and should be investigated properly by an attorney. A personal injury attorney can help review the details of a case to make sure a victim receives the compensation they are owed when their injuries are caused by the negligence of someone else.
At Shaheen & Gordon, our attorneys in Maine and New Hampshire have handled numerous cases involving escaped farm animals. If you or a loved one have been injured, please contact us for a free consultation.