Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

Who is responsible for the injuries caused by a violent dog?

In movies, violent dogs often fall into only a handful of breeds traditionally used for protection or fighting. In reality, any kind of dog, including a fluffy-looking Pomeranian or a well-manicured poodle could become vicious and bite someone.

Factors ranging from previous trauma the dog experienced to bad genetics might lead to unpredictable aggression and violence. Dog bite attacks can lead to significant injuries that require expensive emergency care and reconstructive plastic surgery.

In some cases, the person bitten by a dog may not be able to work. The parent of a child injured in an attack may also have to take a leave of absence to provide care to their child as they recover. Dog bite attacks can also result in psychological trauma that requires counseling. Who is responsible for all of those expenses when a dog suddenly attacks someone?

New Jersey has strict liability rules for those who own animals

While dogs are generally friendly and pleasant animals, they do pose a known risk to the public. Owners should make every reasonable attempt to train and restrain their animals so that they don’t hurt humans. Dogs outside should either be in an area with an appropriate fence or on a leash.

Even when owners follow all of those rules, their dog could still suddenly become aggressive and hurt someone. If that happens, the owner is the one liable for the actions of the dog and the consequences of the attack for the victim. A dog doesn’t need to have a history of bites for the owner to be responsible for the damage their pet causes.

Insurance sometimes helps after a dog turns aggressive

Depending on the situation that led to the dog bite attack, the victim may be able to make a claim for medical costs and other expenses incurred.

Homeowner’s insurance will typically cover an attack that occurs on someone’s property, provided that the owner disclosed the presence of the animal through the company and did not lie about its breed. Renter’s insurance may also cover the actions of dogs that occur in an apartment or rental house.

If there isn’t an insurance policy in place, if the company declines to cover the dog because of its breed or if the injuries someone suffers are catastrophic, the victim may have to consider taking legal action against the dog’s owner. Otherwise, the person who suffered the bite will be the one who ends up paying for the actions of the animal.

FindLaw Network

As Seen In

  • New Jersey Monthly
  • MTV
  • Super Lawyers
  • app | Part of the USA Today Network