Tort claims based on animal attacks in Germany
Animals are unpredictable. Even well-tempered dogs can snap out of the blue. Under German law, the owner (more precisely the keeper, but in most cases owner and keeper are the same person) is legally responsible and financially liable for any damage his/her dog causes (see Section 833 German Civil Code), even if the keeper has done nothing wrong and the animal has never before attacked someone. Therefore, animal keepers usually have taken out a special animal liability insurance (Tierhalterhaftpflicht).
When attacked and bitten by a dog, the injured person should ask the animal keeper his name and address. In serious cases the police should be called and the names of witnesses should be noted. Even minor bites can lead to infections and medical complications later on, so animal bites should always be taken seriously and be treated professionally by a physician.
The injured person must not prove any negligence of dog owner
As shown above, German law applies the concept of strict liability of animal owners. Thus the animal keeper must always compensate the injured person for all costs (ruined clothing, medical bills, travel expenses, loss of income etc.) as well as pay damages for pain and suffering. If it is on record that the same dog has already attacked someone in the past, the injured person may consider pressing criminal charges against the keeper based on negligence, because in these cases it was foreseeable that such an attack can happen again and the keeper was obliged to restrain and/or muzzle the dog.
If you have been attacked and injured by an animal in Germany and you wish to engage our firm to protect your rights, please provide us with the personal data (names, addresses etc of the injured person, the animal keeper and potential witnesses) and a detailed description of what happened (where and when). Medical and police reports, if available, are also helpful. We will then assess the case and inform you about your options.
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The law office Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German legal matters. The litigation experts of Graf Legal run the leading expert law blog on German Civil Procedure in English language. If you wish us to advise or represent you please contact German solicitor Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester) at +49 941 463 7070.