Again and again animals cause damage to property and persons. Dog bites and riding accidents are just two examples of the many liability cases with which an animal owner may suddenly be confronted. Such events may have serious financial consequences for the owner of the animal in question. The owner of an animal is also liable for the damage caused by the animal. The corresponding legal regulations are contained in the Civil Code. There, § 833 BGB (German Civil Codes) explicitly regulates the liability of animal owners.
Animal liability is a so-called “Gefährdungshaftung” or absolute liability. This means that the animal keeper is liable for damages regardless of whether he has culpably caused the damage caused by his animal or not. He is generally liable for all damage caused by his animal and which can be traced back to a typical animal danger. “Typical animal hazards” are those behaviours of the animal which are naturally inherent in its species. Examples of this are the jumping and biting of a dog and the knocking out of horses.
The law only provides for an exception to the far-reaching responsibility of the animal keeper if the animal causing the damage is a farm animal. An animal is considered a “farm animal” if it is used for professional purposes, for gainful employment and/or for the maintenance of the keeper. These can be cows of a farmer, but also horses of a riding stable operator and also guide dogs and police dogs. If damage is caused by farm animals, it is also assumed that the animal owner caused the damage and is liable for it. In contrast to the owner of a domestic animal (Luxustier), however, he can release himself from his liability by proving that he has taken the care required in trade with his animal or its husbandry or that the damage would have occurred if this care had been taken.
As a result, it is advisable for every pet owner to consider a pet owner’s liability insurance policy tailored to his needs. This applies in particular to those who keep larger animals such as horses, dogs or cattle. The liability for domestic animals such as cats, birds or rabbi is usually covered by the private liability insurance. The appropriate insurance policy should be examined however by a lawyer. Do not risk!