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Dog Bite Accidents

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Dog Bite Accidents

New Jersey Dog Bite Injury Attorneys

Protecting the rights of adults and children injured by dangerous animals

Dogs are considered man’s best friends, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be aggressive from time to time. Millions of Americans visit hospital emergency rooms annually after being bitten by a dog. If a person was bitten by a dog they didn’t own, the dog’s owner is usually responsible for paying the victim’s medical bills. In certain cases, victims can hold the dog owner liable for other monies such as lost wages, and pain and suffering. Other punitive actions include euthanizing particularly aggressive dogs, as well as fines or jail time for particularly negligent owners.

The NJ injury attorneys at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP understand the severe injuries a dog bite can cause, as well as how to handle the resulting insurance and legal issues. Our track record of successful settlements and verdicts gives you the confidence to know the responsible parties will be held accountable for your or your loved one’s injuries.

Statistics about dog bites and attacks

DogsBite.org offers a variety of statistics about dog bites in the United States, including:

  • About 4.5 million dog bites occur every year, with nearly one of every five becoming infected.
  • 14,025 people are hospitalized each year due to dog bite injuries.
  • Nearly 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery due to dog bites in 2018.
  • The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is $18,200.
  • Over 1,000 people visit the ER each day for non-fatal dog bite injuries.
  • Homeowner insurance policies paid out $797 million in dog bite-related claims in 2019.

New Jersey ranks number nine on the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) Top 10 list of dog bite claims, with 699 insurance claims in 2019, at a total cost of $33.5 million.

What are the most common dog bite injuries?

Injuries from a dog bite or attack can be catastrophic, even more so if the victim is a child. The most common injuries resulting from dog bites include:

  • Emotional trauma. Many dog bite victims suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, especially children. They may develop a fear of dogs, experience nightmares or flashbacks, and other symptoms of psychological trauma.
  • Infections. Dogs carry a lot of germs and bacteria on their paws, mouth, and teeth, which can be transferred to your body after a bite or attack. Signs of infection include redness at the wound site, swelling, heat, and pus. Children, the elderly, or the immunocompromised are more at risk to develop infections.
  • Nerve damage and chronic pain. Severe dog and animal bites can damage the nerves in a person’s hands, face, or legs. This can lead to long-term damage and lifelong pain.
  • Puncture wounds. Puncture wounds typically do not bleed profusely, which can make them dangerous. Always get a puncture wound treated immediately, as a bite wound can go deep into the skin and tissues and become prone to infection. These injuries must be cleaned, dressed, and potentially necessitate antibiotics.
  • Rabies. Although rare, rabies is a serious disease that can affect the victim’s brain and neurological system. Rabies can be fatal, which is why it is so important to identify the animal that bit you or your child.
  • Scarring or disfigurement. Most injuries heal over time, but animal bites can leave scars, especially on young children. Facial scarring usually changes the quality of life for the victim, as well as resulting in multiple reconstructive surgeries.

These injuries, whether physical or emotional, put extreme financial stress on victims and their families. The New Jersey attorneys at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP work to ensure you secure fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

What are the different levels of dog bite injuries?

Dr. Ian Dunbar, noted UK veterinarian, separates dog bite wounds into six levels of severity:

  • Level 1. Obnoxious or aggressive behavior but no skin-contact by teeth.
  • Level 2. Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture. However, may be skin nicks (less than one tenth of an inch deep) and slight bleeding caused by forward or lateral movement of teeth against skin, but no vertical punctures.
  • Level 3. One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. Maybe lacerations in a single direction, caused by victim pulling hand away, owner pulling dog away, or gravity (little dog jumps, bites and drops to floor).
  • Level 4. One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. May also have deep bruising around the wound (dog held on for N seconds and bore down) or lacerations in both directions (dog held on and shook its head from side to side).
  • Level 5. Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.
  • Level 6. Victim dead.

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Who is liable for my New Jersey dog bite injury?

New Jersey law holds dog owners liable if they know their dog has a tendency to be aggressive and they do not take adequate measures to protect others from coming into contact with the dog. Dog owners are liable even if their dog is a first-time offender and has never bitten anyone before. State residents can find the complete statute for dog bite regulation under NJSA 4:19-16.

Victims who encounter the dog on public property or while legally visiting a dog owner’s residence are eligible for compensation by the dog owner. Trespassers or those engaged in another kind of criminal activity, however, are not protected under New Jersey law. Additionally, accident victims who are injured trying to escape a dog cannot gain compensation unless the dog directly caused their injuries.

If the dog was provoked, the dog owner will still be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog, but liability may be limited, leaving the victim to pay the remaining costs. In cases where the victim is under seven years old, dog owners face full responsibility for any aggressive actions committed by their dogs.

In a nutshell, to prove liability for a dog bite in New Jersey, you must show:

  • The other party owned the dog
  • You were in a public place or lawfully on the other party’s property
  • The dog bit or attacked you, causing injury

We work to determine the circumstances of your or your child’s injury and hold the responsible party accountable.

What if my friend’s dog bit me? I don’t want to sue them.

According to Kids-n-K9s, 77 percent of dogs that bite belong to the victim’s family or friends. For many people, when the dog belongs to friends or neighbors, they may feel awkward or uncomfortable taking legal action. However, it is important for dog bite victims to proceed. Your friend or neighbor likely has a home insurance policy that they purchased for events exactly like this. After suffering an injury on their property, you have every right to request compensation from their insurance company – the money does not come out of your friend’s pocket; it comes from the insurance policy.

Because New Jersey operates under the theory of strict liability, you do not even have to prove that your friend or family member was negligent. You may also be afraid that the dog will be euthanized if you make a claim. However, dog bites do not necessarily result in an automatic destruction of the animal in New Jersey. Our attorneys can answer any questions or concerns you may have.

NJ dog bite injury attorneys protecting your rights

If you are a loved one has been injured by a dog, please contact one of our dog bite lawyers in New Jersey without delay. At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, we understand the state statutes concerning dog owner negligence and liability, and will fight hard to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call today at 732-777-0100 to set up an appointment to discuss your claim. Our team is available to meet with you at our law offices in Red Bank, Toms River or Edison, New Jersey.

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