Can You Sue An Urban Beekeeper Over A Bee Sting?

Posted on

Urban beekeeping is a rising trend, partially because the honeybee has been rapidly declining in numbers in the wild. While urban beekeeping is definitely a noble pursuit, it can present hazards for neighbors if they end up getting stung -- particularly if they have an allergy to bee venom. 

If you're one of those unlucky souls, can you sue over a bee sting? Here's what you should know.

The Failure To Warn Could Give You A Case

Premise liability laws require property owners to warn visitors about any known hazards that they may encounter on the property in order to protect the visitors from unnecessary harm. In the same way that someone would be expected to warn you about a dangerous broken step leading to their door, you have the right to expect a warning that beehives are being kept on the property.

If a beekeeper fails to give you advance warning of the danger posed by the bees, that's negligence. Negligence is ultimately what allows you to hold the beekeeper responsible for your injuries if you get stung.

You Need To Connect The Negligent Act To The Injury

You also have to establish that the bee that stung you more likely than not belonged to one of the beekeeper's hives. To prove the role of a specific act of negligence -- in this case, the beekeeper's failure to warn you about the bees -- in a personal injury case, you need to show:

That can sometimes be difficult in a case involving bees. It usually isn't possible to prove that the bee that stung you came from the beekeeper's hive. It could have also been a local wild bee -- or maybe a bee from a different hive being kept by somebody else.

However, you don't have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil courts only require that you prove something "more likely than not" is true. So, the closer you were to the beehives the defendant maintains, the more likely it is that one of those bees stung you. Expect your proximity to the hives to be a big issue.

Your Damages Need To Be Considerable

In order to make a lawsuit viable, you have to have damages. For most people, a single bee sting isn't likely to result in the type of personal damages that end up in lawsuits. However, if you're stung by a number of bees at once or happen to have an allergy to bee venom, that's a much different story. You could easily suffer life-threatening complications from bee stings -- and the resulting hospital bills, missed work, and your pain and suffering can actually add up to a lot.

If you've been seriously injured because the owner of an urban beehive failed to warn you of the danger from his or her bees, talk to a personal injury attorney, like James Lee Katz, today about your case.