If you own a pet, you must be a responsible pet owner. New Jersey is a strict liability state. This means that pet owners are responsible if their dog bites even if they took reasonable care to safeguard the dog from biting others or posted warning signs. It is important for dog owners to understand that while you have a right to own a dog as a pet, you may face severe consequences if your dog bites someone else
Dog bites can cause physical and mental trauma to victims. If your dog happens to bite someone in a public place, then you can be held responsible for the injury. Such cases become even more critical when children are bitten. As a dog owner, you should know that you could be held liable for a dog bite. To help you understand your rights as dog owners, experienced attorney are here to help you.
When can you be sued for an animal attack as a dog owner?
Many dog owners do not take safety precautions while walking their dogs. If your dog happens to bite someone in a public place or while someone is lawfully on private property, then you can be sued for the attack. You may have to pay the victim’s medical bills for physical and emotional injuries, lost wages, and other damages.
There is a greater chance of being sued when the dog has a documented history of being aggressive or biting others. The owner may be forced to pay punitive damages if they knew the dangerous propensity of their pet and failed to take appropriate action to prevent future injuries.
There is a lot that an experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney can do to protect your interests. Though you are held responsible for your dog’s behavior as a dog owner, the circumstances may be such that you are not liable for the incident.
If your dog bites someone, that person has to prove that he or she was bitten in a public place or on private property where they entered lawfully. Beyond that, it is not necessary to prove that the dog owner was negligent in handling the dog. If the attack is severe enough to result in fatality, you may also face a wrongful death claim.
Even with such strict laws and regulations, there are defenses against a dog bite lawsuit. Dog owners might not be found liable under the following circumstances:
- If the victim has trespassed onto private property
- If the victim has deliberately provoked the dog
- If the dog was lawfully protecting its owner or someone else during the commission of a crime
- If the dog was actively engaged in police or military work
What does provocation mean?
Provocation can be directed such as teasing the dog from a distance or hurting it. It can also be indirect as well, such as antagonizing it from a distance. Such provocation can include teasing a dog from behind a fence or taking food away from it while it is trying to eat. Your attorney will help you gather evidence where the act of provocation could be established.
What can you do as an owner to avoid aggressive behavior in dogs?
Generally, puppies who are under the age of 4 months are not allowed in dog parks. As most puppies are still training, they might show aggressive behaviors in crowded, chaotic environments. Alternatively, they could be easy victims of other aggressive dogs. Therefore, only trained adult dogs should be allowed in public places such as beaches and parks. As a dog owner, you must be aware of your dog’s behavior in public spaces.
Other significant measures that you can take to avoid such accidents are:
- Your dog must be licensed and registered in accordance with state and town rules
- Dogs must be properly vaccinated
- Pet dogs should ideally be spayed or neutered, unless you are professional breeder
- The dog must wear a collar every time with the contact information of the owner
- A dog must be leashed at all times with a lead length restricted to 8 feet or less
- Dog owners must have control over their pet when they are leashed and taken to a public place
Dogs are undoubtedly loyal and loving animals who deserve to socialize with other people and pets but they should be handled with care, meaning precautionary steps should be taken to prevent bite injuries to other people. Things like leashing the dog while taking them for a walk, keeping safe distances from other people, etc., should be followed to be on the safe side.
If your pet dog bites someone and causes fatal injuries or damages, then you can be sued. You may be forced to pay hefty compensation that can create a financial hardship on you and your loved ones. That is why it is better to take precautionary steps than dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite.
If your dog bites someone, discuss your concerns with a New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer. He will be able to help you take effective legal steps to defend yourself, especially if the dog was provoked or the victim was not lawfully on the property. You can avoid financial ruin when you have an experienced attorney to assist you.