Filing a Dog Bite Injury Claim in New Jersey

According to a report published by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance Company, over $500 million in claims were paid out in 2014 for dog bites and injuries related to dog attacks. This number represents a 15 percent increase from the year 2013, with the average claim in excess of $32,000.

State Farm Insurance Company is the largest carrier of homeowner insurance in the country and they report that dog bite claims accounted for over 30 percent of their annual liability claims last year. Moreover, in just the last decade, the average claim payout for dog bites has risen 67 percent across the nation.

Even though payouts from filing a dog bite injury claim in New Jersey have risen dramatically over the past ten years, the number of dog bite claims dropped almost five percent last year. Increased medical costs and sizeable settlements and jury awards have contributed to the rise in claim payouts for dog bites. Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the states with the highest number of dog bite claims, just behind California, Ohio, New York and Illinois. As jury awards and settlements continue to favor dog bite victims, dog owners need to be vigilant in controlling their pets.

Preventing Dog Bites

All dogs have the potential to bite when they are frightened, protective or injured. For this reason, alone, dog owners should never fully trust their pet when they are around others or in unfamiliar places. Proper training beginning in the early puppy stage is essential to raising a dog that is obedient and trustworthy. Veterinarians and dog trainers are great resources for learning how to identify and work with dogs that have aggressive or threatening personalities.

Socializing a dog from the time it is a puppy allows the animal to get used to different environments and people, and learn the proper responses to stimuli. Children should be taught to stay away from a dog that is eating or appears fearful or distressed.

Children move quickly and can sometimes startle an animal, causing it to bite to protect itself or its possessions such as food, toys or puppies. No dog should be left alone with a child. A responsible adult should always be in the room when children and dogs are present to avoid catastrophic injuries.

Steps to Take if Bitten

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a dog, separate yourself from the animal immediately. Trying to restrain or capture a frightened or vicious dog can lead to more serious injury. Report the dog bite to the owner and seek medical treatment if the dog has broken the skin or if you suspect a fracture or sprain. If you are bitten by a stray dog, immediately call local law enforcement and animal control officers to have the dog evaluated for rabies and other contagious diseases.

Depending upon the seriousness of your injuries and the situation, it can be to your advantage to contact an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. Compensation for injuries, medical expenses and damages may be available to you.

Common Misconceptions About Dog Bites

Some common misconceptions are that if someone brings a dog bite claim it means that the dog is going to be punished or put down and that is not necessarily the case. The dog bite claim is a civil claim against the dog owner and their insurance company for damages that injured person has incurred whether it be medical bills, lost wages, scarring injuries, things like that. It does not necessarily mean that that dog is going to be punished or put down.

What Are the Common Mistakes People Make?

One of the most common mistakes when filing a dog bite injury claim in New Jersey is that people assume they do not need a lawyer. They think that since they have spoken with the insurance company for the dog owner and the insurance company has indicated that they are going to pay damages or pay medical bills that is how it works.

However, insurance companies do everything they can to avoid paying fair and reasonable damages for medical bills and injuries and lost wages. It is recommended to allow an attorney to speak to the insurance company directly. If the person does not have any experience in handling claims, dog bite claims or other such claims with insurance companies, the person may make a misstep.

How an Attorney Can Help

An experienced dog bite attorney can try to make sure that evidence is preserved. They could also alert insurance companies to not communicate with the injured person directly. An attorney can use these tactics to try protecting the person’s rights throughout the process of filing a dog bite injury claim in New Jersey.