When it comes to companionship, dogs win the blue ribbon. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) more than 36% of American households – or 43,346,000 households overall – own a dog, as compared to just 30.4% of American households who own a cat. But unlike their furry feline counterparts, dogs have the potential to cause serious bodily harm. It is the responsibility of each and every dog owner to ensure that their pet does not injure family members, visitors or the public at large. Sadly, it is a responsibility many dog owners will fail to take seriously, often with disastrous results.
Children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and the injuries sustained by a child are more likely to be severe. To that end, the AVMA maintains that of the 4.5 million people in the United States who will be bitten by a dog this year, 20% will require medical attention. Tens of thousands of Americans will require reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Injuries from a dog bite can range from minor lacerations to facial disfigurement, or can even be fatal.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you could be entitled to compensation. Monmouth County personal injury lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. understand that a dog bite takes both a physical and emotional toll. This is because long after the actual wounds heal, a dog bite victim may feel traumatized by what they have suffered and fearful that it could happen again.
Prevailing on a dog bite claim is relatively uncomplicated in New Jersey, one of many states that make the owner of a dog strictly liable for all damages caused by their dog. An injured party need only establish that a defendant owned the dog, that the dog bit the injured party, and that the injured party was in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property, such as by invitation, when the bite occurred. A victim need not prove that a dog owner acted with negligence, failed to warn passerby that their dog posed a threat, or failed to properly restrain their dog. So long as a victim was not trespassing, any dog owner can be held financially responsible for a dog bite.
Damages available to Monmouth County dog bite victims can include reimbursement of their medical bills, as well as compensation for their pain and suffering and lost income. If it can be proven that a dog was previously aggressive, or that an owner’s conduct was particularly egregious, a victim can recover punitive damages in the state of New Jersey. Such damages are capped, however, at whichever is greater – five times the amount of compensatory damages or $350,000.
Dogs are loyal, faithful pets for millions of American families but even a friendly dog can bite under some circumstances. Monmouth County dog bite lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. have experience litigating personal injury claims on behalf of those who have been bitten by a dog. We will fight tirelessly to ensure that a dog owner is held responsible for the damage – physical and emotional – caused by their pet.
Contact us online or call (732) 493-9400 to schedule a free consultation at our Eatontown personal injury law firm, where we proudly serve clients in Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Mercer County and the towns of Long Branch, Neptune, Asbury Park, Middletown, Ocean Township, Freehold, Wall, Belmar, Sea Girt and Neptune.