Dog bites are scary. Everyone who has seen the movie Cujo would agree. We loves dogs, but sometimes ‘man’s best friend’ turns into something else. If you own a dog, dog bites are something that you need to consider, because ultimately the owner is responsible for their pet. Dog bites are often covered under homeowners insurance coverage, renters insurance and/or insurance for the property owner. If you rent out a property, you need to be clear within the lease agreement if you allow or don’t allow pets. Moreover, you as a property owner you need to be vigilant in oversight of the property, tenant, and insurance coverage. We have seen a few dog bite cases where even though the property owner may have banned pets, they were not vigilant, and could buy a dog bite injury claim.
Pennsylvania Law and Dog Bites
In Pennsylvania there are two ways the law looks at dog bite accidents. If this is the first time your dog has ever bit someone, the law examines the severity of the injury. Dog bites are considered severe if it caused broken bone(s), deep cuts, loss of body part, etc. When the injury is severe, there is strict liability for the damages caused. Strict liability means that the Plaintiff does not have to prove negligence, just that there was a dog bite and it is your dog. Strict liability is just that, strict. Additionally, if your dog has a history of biting or engaged in similar dangerous behavior, you are automatically subject to strict liability for subsequent bites.
The second distinction Pennsylvania law makes is for dog bites that result in non-severe injuries. However, regardless of the type of injury suffered in a dog bite accident, there is strict liability for medical bills. That means that the owner of the dog, hopefully through an insurance policy, is always liable to cover the medical bills of the person bit.
New Jersey Dog Bite Law
Dog bites in the Garden State are covered under N.J.S.A. 4:19-16. This statute does not distinguish whether a dog had bitten previously, but rather puts strict liability for dog bites on the owner regardless. This makes it a whole lot easier to pursue compensation for your dog bite injuries. In New Jersey you only need to prove that the dog was owned by the defendant, you were in a public place or legally in a private place (even the defendant’s own home as a guest), and that you were bit. The same issues apply though, your best avenue for getting compensated is through insurance. Our team is skilled at finding those insurance coverage, even if they may be very well hidden.
I Got Bit, Now What?
Call the police, and EMS so that you can get proper medical attention as soon as possible. If you are able, take some pictures of the scene, get information from the dog owner, and any witness contact info as well. Getting this information may prove very difficult down the road. Once you feel up to it, contact a dog bite accident lawyer who will help you navigate the wonderful world of insurance claims!
As mentioned above, hopefully the owner of the dog has insurance coverage through a homeowners policy, but every personal injury case is different. Having handled many dog bite cases, we will turn over every rock to try and find insurance coverage for your injury. Dealing with the insurance company, who’s does not have your best interests in mind, can be overwhelming. We know the in’s and out’s of handling dog bites. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies, will help you get the best medical care and ultimately maximum dollar compensation for your personal injury. Let us help.