a donkey hit my car

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a donkey hit my car

i live in athens texas and i hit a donkey that ran out in front of me on a farm market road. the owners had the donkey tied up and the donkey got free and ran out in front of me and now the owners refuse to pay for the damages to my car. are the owners responseble for my damages?

Asked on May 8, 2009 under Accident Law, Texas

Answers:

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Some states have statutes for domestic animals like dogs which state that the owners are liable for damages the animal causes by running into the road as a result of not being ties up or confined to the owner's property.  I have a client right now in your exact situation with a dog.  You need to see what the statute says.  Short of a statute, i would file a claim in small claims court for the damages.  Small claims courts offer equitable resolutions and do not necessary require you to have a staute or legal theory to recover - i.e. the ocurt wants to make people whole and force them to do the right thing.  File a small claims action - hopefully the owner of the donkey will refer the matter to his homeowner's insurance to get this resolved cheaply.  I wish you luck!

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Absent a special statute, the owners of an animal that is not-ferocious (such as a tiger, lion, etc.) are typically liable for the damage it causes only if they are negligent. Here, especially if the donkey did not have a history of escaping from being tied up and then walking in a place where it would be dangerous to others, they may not have been negligent if it somehow escaped. Further, as you had the last clear chance to avoid hitting the donkey, there may be some contributory negligence on your part.  This sounds like a case for Judge Judy.


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