Articles Posted in Dog Bites

dog-bites-mailman-400-07471430d-300x169As cliché as it may sound, dog attacks on mail carriers are a real issue and one that is growing.

Each year the U.S. Postal Service releases statistics on the number of dog attacks against its carriers in connection with National Dog Bite Prevention Week (August 9 – 15). According to this year’s figures, there were 6,755 dog attacks against mail carriers in 2016, an increase of 206 from 2015. The good news is that the severity of the attacks appears to be on the decline according to insurance claims.

The reason behind this increase? It could have something to do with the rising popularity of online retail sales, which has led to a double-digit increase in package business for the Post Office. To learn more about this growing problem and ways in which you can keep from becoming part of it, read “Dog Attacks on Mail Carriers Rise Again as Online Sales Boom.”

pet-insurancePet ownership can be a very rewarding experience, but it carries tremendous responsibilities that extend beyond the proper care and feeding of the animal. In addition to food, vet visits, training, socialization, and grooming essentials, pet owners are liable for injuries or damage their pet may cause to another person or their property. This liability can be substantial, especially if the pet attacks someone.

When the injury or damage is severe, as can be the case with dog bites, the pet owner can be held liable and possibly sued for medical expenses and other damages that can amount hundreds of thousands of dollars. Homeowner’s insurance may cover a portion of this liability, depending on the type and amount of insurance the pet owner carries, as well as any restrictions their specific insurance company may have. To understand whether or not your insurance will cover such damages, read Chris Kissell’s article, “Will your insurance pay out for pet damage?”

dog%20bite.jpgA week (in 2013, May 19 through May 25) has been named National Dog Bite Prevention Week and with good reason. Each year, close to 5 million people suffer dog bites, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most of those victims are children; mail carriers and senior citizens are also main targets. (1)

One major insurance company reported receiving 77 claims of dog bites and paying out more than $4.7 million in New Jersey alone last year, a number slightly up from the previous year. New Jersey ranks 16th among all states for reported dog bites for the past two years. (2)

The numbers are high in terms of both attacks and insurance claim payouts and exclude lawsuits against the dog owners to recover medical expenses and pain and suffering endured by the victims. When dogs attack, everyone suffers – the victim, the dog owner and even the dog. On May 18, two American bulldogs were shot and killed by police as they attacked a woman on a Plainfield street. (3)

A New Jersey Appellate Court recently overturned a lower court ruling allowing a woman from Bergen County woman who was bitten by a dog while pet-sitting to proceed with a suit against the dog’s owners. (1)

According to reports, the victim was being paid to watch her neighbors’ dog while they were on vacation. During this time, the dog allegedly bit her as she reached down to retrieve a napkin that had fallen to the floor. A Superior Court identified the victim as an independent contractor because the woman had previously been paid through a pet-sitting agency; the Court ruled that she was not eligible for damages unless she could prove the dog’s owners were aware the dog was likely to attack. (1)

Although New Jersey ranks only 48th in the country in terms of pet ownership, (2) it has some of the strictest dog bite laws. These laws hold dog owners liable if their dog bites anyone in a public place or on private property (assuming the victim was on that property legally), regardless of the dog’s prior behavior. (3)

For the dog lovers among us, our pets are family. We pamper them, we love them and, when they die, we grieve them. But with dog ownership comes responsibility and there are laws to assure those responsibilities are met.

Most states, including New Jersey, hold dog owners responsible for damages caused if their dogs bite a person. The N.J.S.A. 4:19-16 statute addresses no other injury except dog bites and holds true even if the dog is in the possession of someone other than its owner – a dog walker, for example – when the attack occurs. There are exceptions to this law including instances when the victim is on the dog owner’s property illegally. (1)

What happens, though, when one dog attacks and kills another? That’s a question the New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to consider. (2)

Many people get great pleasure from their pet dogs, but responsible dog owners realize they must accept liability along with dog ownership.

A July 22, 2010, article on myCentralJersey.com reported an Akita that had attacked a young child in Warren Township had been euthanized three months after the attack following a Judge’s order. The dog had bitten once previously and, as a result, a hearing was required under the Township’s ordinance. (1)

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