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Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?

dog bite

Owning a dog is one of the more rewarding experiences in life, though it does not come without its dangers.  Dog bite injuries are perhaps the most frightening, particularly if you do not own the animal.  Not knowing where the dog has been or if it has had any vaccinations will only compound the pain of the bite itself.  Even questioning who is liable for your injury can be worrisome.

Each state has their own laws in place when determining liability for a dog bite.  These laws are generally one of the following:

  • One-bite law. This law is dependent on the dog’s past behavior. If the dog has shown a vicious disposition or has bitten someone previously, the owner is held liable the next time the animal bites or acts vicious.  The owner is not held liable for the first dog bite.  However, states have begun to move away from such laws.
  • Dog bite statute. Regardless of the dog’s previous behavior or owner’s knowledge of the dog’s history, the owner is held liable for a dog bite.
  • Negligence. The owner could be liable if they were found to be careless or negligent in disciplining the dog.

New Jersey’s dog bite laws fall under a strict-liability statute.  The law states that should the victim suffer the injury in a public place or is legally on private property, such as a postal carrier, the owner is liable.

Several strict-liability states may not hold the owner liable if it is proved that the victim provoked the attack.  However, New Jersey is not one of those states.  Additionally, in New Jersey there is no need to prove the owner was negligent in controlling their animal, only that the injury occurred.

However, if the victim had been trespassing illegally or on the owner’s property without their permission, the dog’s owner may not be found liable for the injury.  It is also important to note that New Jersey’s law only applies to dog bites; it does not cover other injuries caused by a dog.  This includes if a dog knocks a person to the ground or runs into the street and causes an accident.

What Should I Do after a Dog Bite?

Dog bites can come in many forms depending on the breed of dog and location of the bite:

  • Lacerations. When skin is pierced, and bleeding occurs.
  • Punctures. May appear small but there is deep tissue damage.
  • Infections. When the wound is infected by bacteria, either from the dog’s mouth or the surrounding skin of the victim.
  • Rabies. An infection that causes over 50,000 deaths worldwide and is closely related to unvaccinated animals.
  • Tetanus. Another infection caused by dog bites.
  • Avulsion. When skin, tissue, or a limb is torn away from the body and will likely lead to scarring.
  • Crushed bones. This occurs when a larger dog applies strong enough force to crush or break bones, as well as surrounding tissues and muscles.
  • Death. A fatal dog bite is rare but not impossible; there is an average of 18 deaths related to dog bites every year.

Following a dog bite, sanitize the wound and slow the bleeding as best as possible while wrapping the wound in a bandage.  Pay attention should you begin to have a fever or if any swelling occurs and seek medical attention immediately.  Furthermore, whether it is your own dog or someone else’s, or your dog has bitten another person, it is best to seek out a dog bite injury lawyer immediately after seeing a doctor.

Atlantic City Dog Bite Injury Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Assist Injured Victims of Dog Attacks

Although dogs are man’s best friend, you still must exercise caution around them, especially if it is an animal you do not know.  Should a dog attack, it is best to know what to do before and after the injury.  After seeking medical treatment for your wound, it is recommended that you speak to the Atlantic City dog bite injury lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm right away.  Our experienced lawyers will examine every detail of the case and help you get the compensation to cover your injuries and treatments.  Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation. With an office in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we assist accident victims in Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, Woodbury, and across South Jersey.