How do I collect for medical bills caused by a bite from a neighbor’s cat?

One day I came back home and a cat that has been staying around my building (apartment complex) didn’t want to move. So I tried to move it and it bit my finger and drew blood. I went to the ER and after I came back I found out who the owner of this cat was. I went to see them and they told me that “they will take care of bill, and make payments as much as they can afford at one time “. So now 2 weeks later I finally received my bill for $460. How should I go by doing collecting on this?

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you believe that someone--or their animal--negligently caused you injury or made you incur costs, if they don't voluntarily reimburse you, your only way to obtain compensation is to sue, or bring a lawsuit. For what you describe, you are better off suing in small claims court, representing yourself (no lawyer); the cost of an attorney would exceed what you hope to recover. Also bear in mind that you may not win--for a pet owner to be liable, they must have been negligent, or unreasonably careless, in some way. Cats are generally let out; it's not clear that letting his/her cat out (so that it hung around your building) is negligent. It also may be that you, in fact were negligent (which would reduce or eliminate your compensation) in putting your hand to a strange cat.


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