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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 4 million reported dog bites occur in the United States annually. Not surprisingly, a majority of bite victims are children who often suffer painful, permanent injuries to the face. New Jersey has some of the strictest dog bite laws in the country and the courts take dog bite attacks very seriously. Unlike other states, New Jersey does not allow “one free bite” and thus holds dog owners strictly liable for the injuries caused by their animals.
Victims of such injuries must protect their legal rights in order to recover damages under New Jersey law. If evidence is not properly documented or if a formal complaint against the dog owner is not filed in a timely manner, victims can lose their right to pursue a claim. Therefore, victims of dog bite attacks must obtain the following information as soon as possible: (1) Identify the dog and dog’s owner and obtain contact information; (2) Obtain contact information for all potential witnesses; (3) Obtain insurance information from the dog’s owner; (4) Seek medical care and insist that wounds and bruises be properly documented; (5) When possible, take photographs of the dog, dog owner, witnesses, wounds and location of the incident; (6) Seek legal advice in order to file a timely claim and obtain necessary evidence. Most importantly, never sign any document provided by the dog’s owner, landowner of property upon which the attack occurred or any documents from an insurance agent without the advice of your own New Jersey personal injury attorney.
There are a few situations where the dog’s owner might not be obligated to the bite victim, such as: If the victim is a trespasser on the dog owner’s property; if the victim’s injuries are not caused by the bite; and, if the person against whom the victim is making a claim is not the actual owner of the dog. In addition, special treatment may be given where the victim bears some responsibility for the bite, such as provoking the dog. These types of situations are evaluated based on the entire circumstances of the dog bite incident.
The most dangerous and aggressive dogs were bread to be aggressive and dangerous. They include the American Staffordshire terrier, the American Pit Bull, Rottweiler and Doberman Pincher. Their bites exert hundreds of pounds more pressure than the average German Shepherd for example. Ironically, it is the popularity of these breeds that has been their downfall. Unscrupulous breeders, anxious to make a quick profit, are culpable. Comprehensive investigation of the bite incident may prove such a breeder also potentially liable.
Victims of dog or other animal bites may wrongly believe that they have no legal recourse for recovery of medical bills or other damages, but the owner of the dog or other animal is ultimately responsible for the economic loss, harm, pain and suffering arising out of h an incident. Future compensatory damages may also come into play. So if you or a loved one has been the unfortunate victim of a dog bite attack, you may have a claim or lawsuit related to this event. Contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer from the law firm of Helmer, Conley & Kasselman as soon as possible to obtain comprehensive advice.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.