Livestock liability and precautions

Whether it is cattle or horses, animal owners in New Mexico have a responsibility to make sure they do not pose a danger to others. If they get off the property and wander onto highways, this can cause serious accidents. Even when loose on the owner's property, these large animals can be dangerous to others. Owners must take certain precautions to make sure these animals are properly fenced and housed.

According to the International Risk Management Institute, loose animals increase the risk for serious injuries and death, which typically leads to not only insurance claims but also pricey lawsuits. Negligence by the animal's owner or keeper can show up in a number of ways including:

  • Poor maintenance of fences and other barriers
  • Defective fences
  • Open gates
  • Repetitive escapes
  • Failure to warn others of potential dangers

When determining who is at fault for accidents and injuries, the judge or jury will consider a number of parties including the owner, the person in charge of upkeep or watching the animals and a third party who may have contributed to the dangerous situation. 

To decrease risk, a number of precautions should be taken. Regular inspections of gates, doors and fences should be conducted, and any issues must be fixed as quickly as possible. The University of Illinois Extension discusses that even the type of fence you choose varies depending on the type of animal, what the animals are used for, durability, weather conditions and ease of maintenance. Some of the features that should be considered before installing a fence include:

  • Visibility
  • Height
  • Material 
  • Strength

Animal owners should do everything in their power to decrease their liability and keep things safe for others.

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