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Can You Sue a Pet Owner for Injuries?

March 23, 2016 | Posted In Dog Bites

If you are bitten by a dog walking nearby, or your property is damaged by your neighbor’s pet, you could have grounds for a lawsuit. Under New Jersey’s strict liability law, pet owners are responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their pets. Although most dog bite or damage cases can be resolved without going to court, if the owners fail to acknowledge their legal responsibilities, an injured party can resort to a lawsuit to resolve an incident.

Proof of Injury or Damage

Because New Jersey’s dog bite law assigns strict liability to the pet owner (which we discussed in a previous blog), the injured party does not need to establish that the dog owner himself is at fault. If the dog bites someone, the dog owner will be liable as long as the victim was not in a restricted area or trespassing and did not provoke the dog to bite.

However, just because the law says that the owner is responsible doesn’t mean the case will be easy. If you have been bitten by a dog that you did not provoke, and it occurred in a place where you are legally allowed to be, you could find yourself facing pushback from the dog’s owner when it comes to making restitution and paying your related costs.

When Should You File a Lawsuit?

If your case isn’t moving forward through discussions with your insurance agents and the owner’s coverage provider, it might be time to seek out a dog bite attorney. You may need to sue the dog owner to get the ball rolling with the insurance company or to ensure that you receive the full extent of the monetary compensation you deserve. In considering the lawsuit option, it’s important to remember the statute of limitations and make sure you take action within the appropriate timeframe.

The benefits of filing a lawsuit to handle a dog bite or related incident are heavily influenced by what happened, as well as the resulting damage. For example, if you were scratched and bitten by your neighbor’s dog and had to go to the doctor for stitches, you may be better off working through the insurance companies instead of filing a lawsuit since the cost of the lawsuit might be more than the compensation for your injuries and medical expenses. But if your neighbor’s puppy tore through your home and yard and caused significant damages and property destruction, the legal fees associated with a lawsuit might be well worth it to hold the owner accountable.

Discuss Your Options With an Attorney

If you have been bitten by a dog, or have had property destroyed by a dog, a lawsuit might be the best way for you to get what you deserve and cover the costs associated with your injury or the destroyed property. For more information regarding the state’s ownership and liability laws, and to discuss your options for legal action, contact the New Jersey dog bite attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, today.

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