The Growth of Dog Bites: Understanding Liability and Steps to Recovery

Dog bites are a growing concern in New Jersey and across the United States. The number of dog bites occurring each year seems to be increasing, while the costs associated with dog-bite injuries also continue to climb skyward. When a dog bite occurs it's important to understand where responsibility lies and what steps should be taken afterward to preserve your right to recover related expenses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 800,000 people in the U.S. seek medical attention for dog bites, half of them children. Of those who seek medical attention for dog bites each year, half are treated in the emergency room and more than a dozen pass away from their injuries. Children ages 5 to 9 are at the highest risk of suffering dog-bite injuries.

In addition to physical harm, the costs of dog-bite injuries are also serious. According to Bloomberg, the price of an average insurance claim for a dog bite is just under $30,000, which is a 12 percent jump in comparison to last year. Dog bites also account for more than one-third of all liability payouts from home insurers. Therefore, it's important to understand who is potentially liable for a dog bite and what steps to take when one occurs.

In New Jersey, the owner of a dog can be liable if it bites someone in a public place or in a private place where the victim has a right to be, regardless of the viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of the dog's viciousness. In other words, a dog owner can be responsible for a dog bite that occurs at a public park, dog park or on the street. Moreover, if a guest is bitten at the dog owner's home, the owner can be responsible for the resulting injury.

When a dog bite occurs, the first thing a victim should do is seek medical attention. If a dog bite victim does not receive proper treatment, the wound can cause serious injury, infection and even death. After seeking medical attention, a dog-bite victim may want to consult with a personal injury attorney who can identify whether a legal claim exists and the type of recovery available. Depending on the injury, a dog-bite victim may be able to recover for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages among other damages.

Just as there are good dogs and bad dogs, there are responsible and irresponsible dog owners. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you review your legal options.

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