Cat Attack Leaves Scars and Emotional Trauma...

by Nataya
(Los Angeles, CA, US)

I live in an apartment building where a lot of people own cats/dogs. Before we all moved in, a roommate was told to not bring the cat she had (new leases could not have cats, paper has been signed and we didn't want pets in our place). She brought the cat anyways. So all of us living in this apartment have been dealing with it.

One time, one of my roommates said the cat was trying to attack her, she ran into the room and closed the door and his front legs were under the door moving. She told the owner (a roommate) then the cat was put up until she moved out. Now the cat has been running around unsupervised. I was not afraid, so I kept doing as usual.

One night, I had opened the door to the living room where the cat has been running around freely and he hid (as if I couldn't see him) and was in a stance as if he was waiting on me to move so he could attack me. So I yelled at the cat and walked by and he jumped at my foot. As I was leaving the room, out of no where he attacked me. Bit into my leg and left me with a lot of bleeding scratches.

I told the owner, who revealed that he had scratched her and thought his behavior had calmed down. The next night I was advised to go to the hospital to get it checked out. I told the owner I will be giving her an estimate of the costs so I could be reimbursed.

So now, I'm wondering if compensation for the cat attack is possible? These are scars I have to wear for years, now I have fear of animals moving too fast, and I have to be on a schedule to take my medicine for the days the doctor prescribed. Any thoughts?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Cat Attack Leaves Scars and Emotional Trauma...":

Nataya (Los Angeles, CA, US):

From the facts you present, the cat owner is liable for your injuries. It's as simple as that.

From the facts you present it's clear your roommate was forewarned not to bring the cat into the apartment, "...roommate was told to not bring the cat, " and you made it clear "we didn't want pets in our place." Additionally there is no evidence of provocation. If there had been, your roommate could use it as an affirmative defense.

Your roommate also had previous notice of the aggressive nature of her cat. This occurred when your other roommate was placed in fear of attack by the cat.

It would be entirely unreasonable for you to have moved out. You had no choice but to stay.

It seems fair to presume if the cat owner had to have roommates, she probably doesn't have a lot of discretionary income. Nevertheless, she is still liable for your "damages." Damages include your medical bills, costs of your medications, lost wages (if you had to miss work), and your pain and suffering, also called emotional distress and mental anguish.

Tell your roommate you want to be reimbursed for your damages. If she refuses to pay you can sue her in your local small claims court. In the State of California the maximum amount, or "jurisdiction" of Small Claims Court is $10,000 dollars.

Before you consider filing a lawsuit be sure you won't have any permanent scarring. If you will have scarring your case may be worth more than $10,000 dollars. If so you will probably have to retain a personal injury attorney to file your suit in a higher court.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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