It’s good advice for both pet owners and animal lovers alike watch out for dogs that bite! It happens”even though dogs are known to be man’s best friend and it’s important to know the law and who bears responsibility for damages from any injuries sustained from a dog bite.
Dog bites are common–nearly five million Americans are bitten by dogs annually, and more than half of these victims are children, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC.) An estimated 386,000 of those injured require treatment in an emergency room.
Who Bears The Liability For A Dog Bite?
In most states, it’s the dog owner who is responsible for damages caused when his or her dog bites someone, but there are exceptions to that general rule.
For example, if a person ignores warnings that a dog is vicious and may be prone to bite an unfamiliar person, the dogs owner may not be liable for injuries inflicted by the dog if the person ignores such warnings.
In addition, if your dog bites someone who trespasses on your land, you will not be held liable. However, New Jersey law imposes strict liability on the owner of a loose dog who bites someone in a public place, or after they’ve been permitted onto your property.
How To Prevent A Dog Bite
It’s important for both children and adults to learn and follow a few basic rules. Teaching children these rules and reviewing them periodically–helps to reduce the probability of being bitten by a dog. The CDC suggests the following:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to the authorities
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior
- Remain motionless (“be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog
- Do not run from a dog and scream
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (“be still like a log”)
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult
What to Do If A Dog Bites You
There are several things you can do to protect your rights if you are bitten by a dog. It’s important to identify the dog owner and the animal that bit you, because if it’s a stray and cannot be identified, you may face the possibility of painful treatment for rabies.
So, obtain the names and addresses of the dog owner, witnesses, and the people who had custody of the dog when it bit you.
In addition, make notes of the incident and take photographs of the wounds before you are treated. Obtain treatment from a doctor to document the dog bite incident, and–if you are wounded on the face–insist on treatment by a plastic surgeon in the emergency room to insure your wound heals properly.
Go to the agency that handles animal control in your community and file a report. Do not rely on the hospital to make a report for you! Cooperate fully with the investigating officers.
Find Out More About Your Rights
Lastly, consider calling Schibell Law Law Firm to learn more about your rights. Our firm works with you on a contingency basis, which means that we won’t ask you–the victim–to pay for anything. In many cases, the dog owners insurance will be your source of compensation.
Dog bite victims are generally compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and scarring. It’s important to call us promptly, as these types of claims are subject to a specific deadline.