Dogs are beloved members of many families but they can also cause harm when they injure someone in a bite. Dog bites are very common, in fact the CDC reports that 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog each year while one in five of these injuries requires medical attention. Most commonly, people are bitten by a dog they know such as a neighbor’s dog, a friend's dog, or their own family pet. If you or a loved one suffers an injury from a dog bite, you may have questions about liability.
Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases
Every state has different laws determining who is liable after a dog bite. Most states, like New Jersey, fall in the strict liability category which means that the dog owner is liable for the harm his or her dog causes, regardless of any previous history. In other words, even if it's the first time the dog bites someone, the owner is liable. A dog bite victim need only prove that he or she was bitten by a dog and establish to whom the dog belongs.
The few exceptions to strict liability also vary by state. In New Jersey, for instance, if the dog bite victim was trespassing, there is no liability for the dog owner. It’s also possible that another party could be held liable for the dog bite if that person was in control of the dog at the time, such as a dog walker or veterinarian. Property owners who know that an aggressive dog lives with a tenant on the property may be liable for injuries if they didn’t do anything to properly secure the premises.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Dog bites, even those that seem minor, can quickly lead to infection. It’s important that you quickly seek medical attention. In addition to taking care of your injuries, make sure to follow these actions after a dog bite:
#1: Medical Attention for a Dog Bite
Immediately treat your wounds by placing a clean towel over the injured area and then elevate that part of your body until the bleeding subsides. If the injury is severe or starts to swell, you should go to a medical facility. Seeking medical attention quickly not only starts the healing process but also creates documentation of your injuries and condition immediately following the incident.
#2: Gather Evidence
If possible, take pictures of the dog and anything relevant at the scene of the incident such as inadequate fencing. Also take pictures of your injuries immediately after and continue to take pictures of them as you recover.
Ask for the dog owner’s contact information including address, phone number and email. Ask the owner about the dog’s history or aggression or biting. In some cases, homeowners insurance may cover the damages from a dog bite so you will eventually need their policy information, as well.
#3: Report the Dog Bite
Let your local authorities know that the dog bite happened. Don’t be afraid of calling the police to the scene and asking them to file a report, especially if your injuries are severe. You should also report the incident to the local animal authorities so they have a record of the dog’s history.
Brandon J. Broderick Is Here For You 24/7
A dog attack can be a traumatic event that can leave lasting physical and mental injuries. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we take the time to listen and understand our clients’ concerns, needs and well-being. We believe in compassionate client care and honest, straight-forward approach.
When you hire a New Jersey dog bite lawyer from our team, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. Without a legal claim, the insurance company can offer you a lowball offer that barely covers any of your needs leaving you left to pay for the costs of your injuries on your own. Contact us today and let us turn your setback into a comeback.