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Law Offices of John Morelli
A Personal Injury Firm Serving All Of South Jersey

Dog Bites And Animal Attacks

Each year about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S., and approximately 1,000 people visit the emergency room each day due to dog bite injuries.

For as much as animal lovers have profoundly influenced a growing acceptance of dogs in society, it equally increases the number of irresponsible and careless pet-owners out in the world. Anyone who owns a dog knows that it is up to the owner to maintain responsibility for their pet's actions. There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Unfortunately, those owners have frequently disregarded the rights and safety of others. They have to display control of the animal at all times, and if it is out in a public area, it is the law it MUST be on a leash. Certain breeds, depending on the dog itself, may even need to be muzzled. This isn't done out of undue caution, but a legitimate need to protect the dog and those around it from any unnecessary incidents.

But, unfortunately, there are lots of pet owners who either just do not care to follow the laws regarding these issues, or simply feel they are entitled not to follow them. New Jersey sets numerous rules on how dogs should be handled, and when the animals do go and hurt someone, the situation usually could have been avoided. That is why, as the state defines it, it is the owner who is solely at fault when their pet causes harm to another individual.

Owners Liable For Dog's Actions

A dog bite can cause serious damage to a person. Some larger dogs have the power in their jaws to lacerate tendons and damage nerves during an attack. The most commonly bit areas are usually limbs, which are easier for the animal to grab at, but many breeds instinctively thrust towards the neck. Wherever a dog does bite a person, though, it is the owner who is responsible and thus liable for any damages caused by the animal. Even if the victim was fully aware of the viciousness of the dog, the owner has the responsibility to control and contain it so it does not cause harm to others.

Rabies and Other Diseases

Since 1983, the state of New Jersey has required dog owners register and license their dogs. This is done for the purposes of ensuring that the pets that go into people's homes are vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. If the pets are unlicensed or not vaccinated, then it is much more likely that the dog could infect humans should it attack them. Rabies is a virus that is transferred to human beings usually through the bite of an infected animal. Were a human to become infected, the disease can be life-threatening. Rabies infections in humans from dogs, though, are entirely preventable if the animal is registered and properly controlled by its owner.

Declaring a Dog "Vicious" or "Potentially Dangerous"

Were a dog to cause an injury to a person, the municipal court which the dog's owner resides can then legally move to have that dog declared "Vicious" or "potentially dangerous". If the dog is found to be "vicious", it would then be put down to avoid it harming other individuals. Were the dog to be found "potentially dangerous", the owner could be allowed to keep the animal so long as they meet certain requirements. These may include obtaining liability insurance for the animal or constructing an enclosure so that the dog no longer presents a threat to others.

What to do in case of a dog bite or animal attack

  • Seek medical attention.
  • Cleanse the wound with soap and warm water.
  • Notify your local animal control agency about your dog bite incident. Give as much information as you can, including the sequence of events and any information about the dog.
  • Photograph the injuries resulting from the dog attack.
  • Photograph the area in which the attack occurred.
  • Collect contact information from all witnesses of the dog attack.
  • Do not sign anything from the dog owner, insurance company, or anyone else involved in the attack.

It is important to retain legal representation of an attorney or lawyer as soon as possible after the animal attack. At The Law Offices of John Morelli, we are familiar with New Jersey animal attack law and how to successfully represent and advise our animal attack victim clients. If you or a loved one has suffered a bite or attack from a dog or animal, contact us today by calling 856-616-1300 for a free consultation.

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