We often write about dog bites on our San Diego personal injury blog, focusing on the harm that can result when dogs are improperly trained and socialized or are merely provoked. As such, it is easy to forget that all animals, not just dogs, have the ability to attack and seriously harm children and adults of all ages.
This was shown in the most shocking and heartbreaking of ways in February 2009, when a woman named Charla Nash went to a friend's house to help locate and lure home the friend's 200-pound pet chimpanzee. When Nash arrived at the home, the chimp attacked her in her car, ripping off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot and killed by police. Nash was seriously injured in the attack and underwent several transplants and other surgical procedures to repair the damage done by the chimp. Although she survived, the 57-year-old woman will require around-the-clock care and supervision for the rest of her life.
A month after the attack, Nash's family filed a personal injury lawsuit against the chimp's owner, alleging that she was negligent and reckless in failing to confine the chimp to a secure area despite knowing that he was dangerous. The owner died in 2010, and Nash's family continued the lawsuit against her estate, seeking $50 million in damages.
Recently, the parties settled the case, with the owner's estate agreeing to pay $4 million to Nash. Although that is significantly less than the Nash family sought in the case, they are hoping to recoup additional medical costs and other damages through a lawsuit against the state. In that suit, the family accuses the state for failing to take action against the owner prior to the attack despite a warning from a state biologist that the chimp was dangerous. It remains to be seen whether that case will be allowed to proceed.
Source: Hartford Courant, "Settlement In Charla Nash Chimp Attack Lawsuit," Dave Collins and John Christoffersen, Nov. 29, 2012
The attorneys at our San Diego law firm help people who have been attacked by dogs or other dangerous animals. To learn more, please visit our dog bites page.