If you’ve been attacked or bitten by a dog, you know that the experience can be extraordinarily traumatizing, and can have lasting physical and psychological effects. In 2019, there were nearly 18,000 dog bite claims in the United States, with almost 700 reports in New Jersey alone.
The team at Thistle Law understands the unique challenges you are likely facing if you or your loved one were bitten by a dog in NJ. We will help you fight for the compensation you need to cover lost wages, medical bills, and to compensate you for the pain and suffering caused by your attack. Below, we’ve compiled some answers to questions we commonly hear from our clients who have been attacked by a dog.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?
Even if a dog bite does not seem serious, you should immediately seek medical attention after an attack. This will help prove a link between your injuries and the dog bite, in case the at-fault party attempts to question this later on. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent, such as:
- Transmission of rabies
- Nerve damage
Dog bites can also cause serious injuries that are readily apparent as well, such as:
- Severe cuts that can cause permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Broken bones
After you have received medical attention, your next step should be to report the dog bite to the local health department in the county where the bite occurred.
Document the Dog Bite
It is important that you document as much of the incident as you are able to so that you will have evidence should you choose to pursue a claim. This can look like:
- Obtaining the name and contact information of the dog’s owner
- Writing down any details you can remember about the dog (color, size, breed)
- Photos of your injuries
- Copies of medical reports
- Contact information from witnesses
- Photos of the location
- Written account of the attack and everything you can remember about it
Dog Bite Law in New Jersey
N.J.S.A. 4:19-16 establishes the liability for a dog bite with the owner of the dog. This law details how the dog’s owner can be held liable for any and all damages to the victim, regardless of how the dog has acted in the past. It covers dog bites that occur on public or private property, unless the victim was trespassing at the time of the attack.
New Jersey’s dog bite law is a “strict liability” law, meaning that liability is not dependent on any gross negligence or intent to harm. This means even if there is no evidence that the owner was negligent or had malicious intent, the victim can still seek compensation. This is good news for victims of dog bites in New Jersey, as it means that the victim needs only to prove that:
- The attack occurred on public property or when the victim was lawfully on private property
- The defendant’s dog was the dog that attacked
How Much Money Can You Get From a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Dog bites are much more common and probably far more costly than you may think. Based on an analysis of the 2019 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm® dog bite claim data, it’s estimated that the average cost per dog bite claim in 2019 was $43,653 in the United States, and $47,868 in New Jersey. The total claims in the United States for 2019 were $802 million, up over $120 million from the previous year.
Dog bite compensation can include payments for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Dog Bite?
Although money may not be able to fully compensate you for the damages and losses you may experience after a dog bite, filing a lawsuit can help serve justice to dog bite victims and hold owners responsible. You will need an experienced lawyer by your side to bring a successful lawsuit, and advocate on your behalf by standing up to the person at fault and their insurance company.
The experienced team at Thistle Law will do whatever it takes to get you the compensation you need to get on the road to recovery. Your initial consultation with us is always free. Contact us today at 215-568-6824, or fill out our contact form here.