Dogs are more than pets for many owners. They are a part of the family. So if they are injured or attacked, that can be devastating for the family. Pet owners should take steps to secure their dogs throughout the day so they do not escape and attack others. Every state has different laws addressing dog owner responsibility. You should research what your responsibilities are. If an escaped dog attacks your dog, you can speak to our New Jersey dog bite lawyers to assess your legal options.
No one is expecting to be involved in a dog fight. When your dog is being attacked, it is crucial to stay calm but assertive. You should not scream or become aggressive, as this can trigger the dog to continue attacking. Stopping the attack is the first and most crucial step. The longer the dog attack goes on, the more seriously injured your dog can be.
Do not try to choke the dog; instead, you can twist its collar and lift it. This is a tricky maneuver, but it can stop the fight. Another method to use is to grab the aggressor by its hind legs. This method is more effective if someone else can hold the other dog, and you can both slowly move backward away from each other. Do not kick or hurt the aggressive dog, which can escalate the situation. Many dog fights can end in seconds if you can break it up. Something else you must consider is your safety. While you want to save your dog, you should not risk your safety.
Smaller scuffles may require less physical maneuvers or owner involvement. Sometimes you can make a loud noise to startle the dogs so you can grab them. Sometimes throwing water or spraying a hose can confuse a dog and avert their attention. Even in minor scuffles, you should assess your dog for injuries. Check them after the attack and 20 minutes later when they settle down.
The advice above can help when the dogs are similar in size. However, when one dog is larger than another one, there are different steps you can take to separate them. The best way to separate the dogs is to pick up the small dog and shield them with your arms. You should turn to one side to avoid eye contact and stay calm. There is a risk that the bigger dog can try to attack you to get to the small dog.
Aside from the physical harm dogs will endure when attacked, they can also suffer emotional trauma. You must pay extra attention to the dog’s behavior. Sometimes you will see signs immediately following the attack, such as your dog shaking uncontrollably. They may also urinate or defecate from fear.
Trauma will not necessarily make them aggressive, but it can change their behavior for some time as they deal with what happened to them. They may have mood swings, not listen to your commands, refuse to go outside, or refuse to eat or drink anything. They may become depressed after being attacked. Be patient and tell your vet if you see any of these signs.
Dog attacks can happen in the blink of an eye. It can be challenging to decipher what happened and who started it. Many times who started the fight will come down to a he-said-she-said situation between the two dog owners. These arguments usually go nowhere. However, there are some factors you can consider to understand what led to the incident.
Where the attack occurs can play a significant role in understanding negligence and liability. If the loose dog enters your gated backyard, then it might be obvious to the insurance company who is liable. Another scenario that might be clear is you are walking your dog when an aggressive dog escapes and attacks you.
Where things can get murky is at dog parks and other public places. Suppose a small dog attacks a large dog, and in self-defense, the big dog causes serious injury to the small dog. That can be a very complex claim. Discuss your circumstances with The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer.
The AKC has compiled a list of nine traits that can be signs a dog is aggressive or dangerous. If owners witness any of these signs, they should secure the dog as it might be a threat to public safety. These are generalizations and are not a hard rule that a dog will attack a person or another pet. The traits include:
There are some indicators you can look for to determine who is responsible for the escaped dog. First, you should beware of dangerous dog laws in your area. These laws and regulations can help you. If you live in a complex or have an association controlling the property, they may have specific dog regulations. You can use these regulations as an indicator the owner was negligent.
You can also ask neighbors for information about whether the dog has been a problem in the past. Ask around to see if the dog has attacked other pets, children, or people. You can also check with animal control to see if they have citations or issued warnings regarding this dog in the past. If the dog is loose, that may indicate that the owner is negligent. These negligent indicators can help you in your injury claim.
One aspect of assessing the situation is gathering evidence about what happened. This part will come after you separate the dogs. We understand that some cases require swift action to get the dog to medical attention. You might be unable to gather the necessary information because your dog’s life is on the line. Some pieces of evidence that can help your claim are:
The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer can help you assess the evidence you gather and look for more. Schedule an initial consultation with us immediately.
One vital fact that can impact your claim is whether the dogs were leashed. If an unleashed dog is an aggressor, that helps your case. Conversely, if a leashed dog is the aggressor, that can complicate matters. Additionally, there are leash laws that can be relevant to your lawsuit. Local leash laws can vary, and you should consider where you are and what the laws are. If you see a dog owner not obeying leash laws, ask them to leash their dog.
One defense that dog owners will use is that the dog was provoked, and it was an instinct to attack. Dogs’ instincts are fighting or fleeing when feeling threatened or anxious. They may attempt to flee if they think they can. That would also be a safe option for the owner. However, if they decide to fight, it could be because they feel trapped. If the dog is preparing to attack, it may begin to snarl or lay low to the ground.
If the dog gives a warning and the provocation continues, its next action is to attack. It can take seconds for an incident to escalate. Some common reasons a dog will feel provoked include:
While many examples in the previous section are intentional actions, others are unintentional ones. Sometimes the provocation is towards the owner. Unintended provocation can involve a person making a threatening or aggressive gesture at the owner. This may cause a sleeping dog to jump up and bite instinctively. Unintentional provocation can lead to partial liability.
Provocation is a factor that can sway a claim one way or the other. However, you must also consider actions that are non-provoking. Some people will attempt to say that a non-provoking action is a provocation. In typical circumstances, the following are deemed non-provoking actions:
While these actions are not-provoking in many scenarios, there are exceptions. A dog owner must know their dog’s behavior and individual triggers. If they know their dog becomes anxious or aggressive with specific actions, they must take mitigating steps to avoid an incident. They must inform anyone approaching that the dog is uncomfortable with those actions and may attack. This warning gives the person time to adjust their actions and prevent a dog attack.
It can also apply to dogs. Some people will attempt to approach a “friendly” dog, but the other dog is not friendly. Informing the other owner they are not friendly can prevent a situation. If the owner doesn’t respect the warning, they may not have as many legal options. Even if both dogs are friendly, an attack can still occur. You must consider if a warning was given by either party before the attack happened.
Even if you think your dog is fine or the injury is minor, you must take them to the vet immediately. It can be difficult to assess injuries. Emergency clinics have some experience treating dogs who have been in altercations. They can evaluate the severity of the injuries and devise a treatment plan for your dog. This medical assessment will also help with your dog attack claim.
When dogs attack, they often want to inflict serious injury on the other dog. Aggressive dogs may also be attacking to kill. If you are unsure whether your dog has suffered a severe injury, you can assess your dog by looking for the following:
These and other signs can indicate that your dog is suffering a severe injury and needs vet attention right away.
You will likely have expenses stemming from a dog attacking your dog. You can pursue legal action if someone else’s dog hurts or kills your dog. Morally, the attacking dog’s owner would pay your medical and veterinary expenses. However, you must speak with a New Jersey dog bite lawyer when a dog owner does not meet their moral or legal obligations.
It is a good rule of thumb to report any dog attack. Reporting the attack may be a no-brainer if the other dog owner was negligent or your dog suffered severe harm. While many owners are responsible and try to mitigate future attacks, some are in denial of their dog’s behavior. When a report is filed, negligent dog owners cannot deny their dog’s aggression. The police will determine who is responsible, especially when there are witnesses.
The outcome of reporting a dog attack will vary depending on what happened and the aggressor’s history. Sometimes the dog will be given a dangerous designation. It can also be a warning to the owner of the consequences of ignoring their dog’s behavior. In some cases, euthanization becomes an option which is something that is life-altering.
Before taking legal action, you should consider the value of your case and legal fees. While most personal injury cases work on a contingency fee, dog-on-dog attacks are in a bit of a gray area. When assessing a case’s worth, a New Jersey dog bite lawyer will review the following:
It is difficult for dog owners to view their beloved dogs in monetary terms. We understand that no amount of money will ever be sufficient to make up for the experience. However, the courts often view dogs as property, making it challenging to assess case value.
In some places, the owner is not responsible for the dog’s first bite. This law, when implemented, means the owner and dog get one free bite. However, many areas are moving away from this and holding dog owners responsible regardless of whether it is a first bite. In places that apply the one-bite law, the owner isn’t accountable for damages, but the dog will be given a dangerous dog designation. Ask The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer if this applies to your case.
In many situations, when a person is negligent, leading to an injury or death of your dog, you might be able to file a civil lawsuit. However, you will have to prove malicious intent or negligence. Proving these can be complex and are the key to pursuing compensation. Discuss whether this is the right option with a dog bite attorney in New Jersey.
Criminal charges might be filed independently of a civil claim. In criminal cases, victims must prove that the person was malicious or intentional with their actions leading to the dog’s injury. Another possibility is that the person broke animal anti-cruelty laws. They may face community service, fines, or jail time if they violate any laws. You also have the option to obtain compensation for emotional damages.
Dog owners also have the option to pursue the case in small claims court. This option can save on legal fees. Going with this option also means you can sue independently, your case may resolve quicker, and the country clerk can walk you through the process. One caveat of this option is you can only pursue economic damages. You cannot seek punitive or noneconomic damages. You may also have shorter time and payment limits. While it varies, sometimes the maximum amount you can recover is between $2,000 and $10,000.
Many dog owners will register their dogs with their renters or homeowners insurance. The insurance policy will likely be responsible for paying for any losses. Most homeowners insurance policies will fully cover the pet’s expenses. One caveat is that insurers have breed restrictions. If the dog who attacked is under a breed restriction, it can be challenging to recover monetary compensation.
When you are pursuing legal action, you will have to calculate your losses. Some of the items you can seek reimbursement for include:
Emotional distress and mental anguish are challenging to assess and recover from dog bite cases. You can speak about the losses you can recover with our dog bite lawyer in New Jersey.
It is not uncommon for dog owners breaking up fights to suffer injuries. A typical example is a person walking their dog when another dog approaches. Instinctively the dog owner moves to protect their dog and gets attacked themselves. Now you’re suffering injuries from trying to protect your furry friend.
Another situation that often leads to a person suffering a dog bite is when they are breaking up a dogfight. In the process of trying to save your dog, the other dog attacks you. While you may believe this is an unfortunate event and you can do nothing, that is not true. The other dog’s owner might be responsible for you and your dog’s injuries. These are complicated situations, and you should discuss your options with the New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer.
Dog-on-dog aggression is common for many reasons. Some fights break out for territorial reasons, lack of socialization, or a slew of other reasons. Since these cases are so common, various laws address what happens when a dog attacks another dog or a person. It can be challenging to determine who is responsible for paying any losses. However, you must speak to a dog bite attorney to determine your legal rights and next steps. Call The New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer to schedule a free initial consultation.