As nicer weather returns, we’re eager to get back outside and enjoy walking and playing in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, sometimes that enthusiasm can be interrupted by accidents and injuries. One of the increased risks that comes along with warmer weather is that more animals are outside, playing and exercising with children and adults at parks and other recreational facilities. Animal bites, even if small or accidental, can result in serious impairments and illness. More serious animal attacks can lead to significant disability and even death.
Teach your children about animal safety and take precautions
Dogs are the animals most frequently involved in injurious animal attacks because they are so common. Even friendly dogs can cause injuries, particularly to well-meaning but overly-aggressive children. You should take care if you are a dog owner to closely supervise your animal when it interacts with children; as parents, you should teach your children how to gently interact with dogs and always ask permission before touching or petting an animal, no matter how friendly it looks.
If a dog bites someone, the dog owner is responsible for any and all injuries directly resulting from the dog bite. New Jersey's dog bite statute is a "strict liability." This means that if you are bitten by a dog while you’re in a public place or lawfully on someone’s property, the owner is liable for these injuries even if he or she used reasonable care to restrain the dog or to protect or warn others.
All kinds of damages are recoverable after a dog bite
A dog's sharp teeth may puncture vital organs or cause severe lacerations, which can require extensive treatment to repair, including plastic surgery and physical therapy, especially with children. Dog attacks can also result in transmission of disease, including rabies. In the worst cases, dog attacks can lead to death. The person who suffers the dog bite may suffer from emotional distress or post-traumatic stress (PTSD) in additional to the observable physical injuries, and may have long-term disabilities or scars. All of these damages are compensable under New Jersey law, but the degree and scope of the injuries will determine how much money is fair.
For example, when a dog attacks someone's face, a larger recovery of monetary compensation is usually appropriate because of the extensive surgeries that are often required. Facial dog bites may also sever important nerves that will prevent that person from expressing emotion; this is extra long-term damage for which they should be compensated.
Some other relevant factors in determining the value of a dog attack case include whether the dog owner knew the dog would attack or if it previously bit or attacked someone. An experienced attorney can best determine the value of compensating you for your particular injuries and present it to the dog owner's insurance company. The owner’s homeowner’s insurance may still be responsible to pay you for your injuries even if the dog attack occurred somewhere other than at the dog owner's home or on his property.
It's important to promptly report an attack to the authorities
If you have been attacked or bitten by an animal, especially if it was accidental, you might worry that reporting the occurrence will result in the dog being “put down.” That’s not necessarily the case in New Jersey dog bite cases, and reporting an incident is essential to both preserve public safety and ensure that you are compensated property for your injuries. Animal control will conduct an investigation to determine what the appropriate action should be for the dog; if it has shown a pattern of viciousness or abuse, animal control may order it to be put down. Animal control also monitors whether animals are suspected of carrying diseases such as rabies.
New Jersey requires that cases to recover personal injury caused by dog bites must be filed within two years of the injury, even if your treatment is ongoing. An experienced New Jersey animal attack lawyer can assist you in initiating and investigating your dog injury case and in recovering fair compensation. We will be your advocates from evaluation through resolution of your claim - learn more here about how an experienced personal injury attorney can help you!
If you’ve been injured by an animal, our Newark personal injury lawyer can help. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Mark Law Firm, your leading New Jersey animal attack lawyers, for a FREE consultation today!