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I was attacked and bitten by a dog. What are my rights?

 

A:

First and foremost, it is important to get proper medical treatment, as infections after dog bites can be common.

Depending on the severity of your injuries and circumstances surrounding the attack, you may be able to make a claim to recover financial compensation for your injuries and damages caused by the attack against the dog's owner.  In addition, you may be able to make a claim against the dog’s caretaker, trainer or even the breeder.  Also, you may be able to have the dog declared dangerous, again depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack. 

I am not sure where your dog attack occurred, so I will discuss the dog bite laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Dog Bite Law

In order for victims of dog attacks in Pennsylvania to recover, they must prove that the dog owner was negligent.  An individual is negligent when he fails to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in the same situation.  In other words, the individual failed to do something or should have done something a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.  Because of the person’s action or inaction, someone was injured.

An example of a dog owner’s negligence may be the following: a dog owner walking his dog on a busy trail fails to put a leash on his dog.  As a result, the dog attacks someone walking on the same trail.  In Pennsylvania, the law requires that dog owners have proper and adequate control of their dogs.  The victim would argue that the owner was negligent because he did not have adequate control of his dog, i.e., the dog was off the leash.

New Jersey Dog Bite Law

On the other hand, New Jersey dog bite law does not require victims to prove the dog owners’ negligence.  Rather, New Jersey imposes strict or absolute liability on the part of dog owners for injuries sustained by victims due to dog attacks and bites. If a victim is bitten, the only things the victim has to prove are:

  • the defendant owned the dog,
  • the dog bit the victim, and
  • victim was in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property.

Dog bite and attack cases can be very complex and expensive, and theories of liability against parties other than the owner can only be pursued properly in the most serious type of case. We have successfully developed cases along the lines described above and have achieved very significant recoveries for both adults and children based upon these theories of liability.  

We recently wrote an article about Pennsylvania's dangerous dog statute and of course, you can order our free book on Pennsylvania and New Jersey dog bite law

*Updated on July 8, 2015


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