Advice: Old laws no longer apply for accidents caused by livestock
The recent case of a man who settled a High Court action over injuries he suffered when he took a lift in a car which crashed into a heifer on a Tipperary road have brought the question of liability for animals to the fore.
The passenger suffered injuries to his chest, neck and shoulder when the hoof of the heifer struck him in the accident in October 2010, on the Ragg to Thurles road in Co Tipperary, the court heard.
The injured man sued the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (which compensates victims of uninsured and untraced drivers) and the owner of the heifer.
The accident was caused by the negligence and breach of duty of the unidentified and untraced driver and/ or the owner of the heifer, it was also claimed by the injured man. The case was settled prior to being heard by the High Court.
For those livestock owners who might now be worried about the consequences of their stock straying onto roadways etc. it is important to know what the law is.
The legal rules which cover liability for damage and injuries caused by animals are unusual in that they impose a 'strict liability' on the owner in many instances.
'Strict liability' means that the owner will have no defence to a claim made by an affected person and will have to compensate the affected person even though they did not intend the damage or injury to occur.
The old rule, that the owner of animals which stray onto the public road was not liable for damage and injury caused by the animals whilst on the road, no longer applies.