Personal Injury

Get the Compensation You Need for Your Dog Bite Injuries

Too many of us, dogs are our beloved pets and are thought of as part of the family. They are man and woman’s best friend and often our closest and most loyal companion.

But any dog can become territorial and unpredictable whenever it feels threatened or when defending puppies, owners, or food. “Our dog has never bitten anyone before” is a common refrain to those who respond to dog bite situations.

Unfortunately, there are approximately 4.5 million people in the United States who are bitten by dogs each year and nearly one out of five dog bites becomes infected, according to Half of the victims of dog bite injuries are children and are far more likely to be injured. Additionally, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016, costing more than $600 million.

The personal injury attorneys at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo take personal injury personally and have decades of experience handling serious dog bite injury cases. We have encountered many questions about the law surrounding these types of injury situations and are ready to assist with your case.  Our team of skilled attorneys will fight hard for you to recover fair compensation and appropriate medical care for your dog bite injury.

Depending on the scope of your dog bite injuries, it can be a life changing experience, requiring extended medical treatment and putting a strain on your finances. It is our belief that your focus should be on healing from your injuries and getting better.  We will work with you to make sure you are receiving the proper medical treatment, and will handle the insurance companies for you so you can focus on healing from your injury.

The lawyers at our firm will handle your case with the respect, dedication, and focus you should expect from your legal representation. Our trained specialists take the time to listen carefully to your individual story, working hard to obtain compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Who Is Liable?

The owner of a dog is liable if the dog bites an individual causing injury. Compensation could include cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Generally, a homeowner’s insurance policy or rental liability insurance policy will provide coverage for the damages caused by the dog bite, even if the bite occurs off of the owner’s property.

There are numerous situations where a homeowner may be found liable.

In New Jersey, there is a statute which makes the owner of the dog absolutely liable for the injuries caused by the dog bite and against the owner of a dog.  You do not have to prove that the owner knew that the dog had a vicious propensity or was likely to bite. As against a non-owner of a dog, you would still have to prove negligence, meaning that the non-owner either knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities.

For example, take a situation where the owner of the dog lives in an apartment and the owner does not carry renter’s insurance.  Under those circumstances, it is typically very difficult, if not impossible, to make a recovery against an uninsured defendant.  If, however, you can prove that the owner or manager of the apartment complex knew that the defendant’s dog was vicious and had bitten someone before, then there could be a claim of negligence against the owner or operator of the apartment complex for allowing the dog to remain on the property.

Another example of when you would have to prove negligence against the owner of the dog would be if the injury caused by the dog is not a bite. For example, if a dog was kept in a fenced back yard and the owner knew that the dog could get out of the fence and had escaped the fenced area on previous occasions, there could be a liability case based on negligence if the dog gets out of the fence and then knocked someone down causing an injury.

If a dog has caused your injury, you should contact a qualified attorney to determine whether you have a case.

How to Avoid a Dog Bite

Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict a dog bite.  As such, it is generally a good assumption that any dog can bite. Just because a dog is of a supposedly gentler breed, does not preclude it from becoming aggressive.  Always exercise caution around strange dogs, respecting their space especially when they are sleeping, eating, or chewing on a toy. Here are some other important tips.

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog. Teach children to always be cautious around pets and to ask first before approaching a dog.
  • Teach children not to pull on the dog’s tail or approach the dog from the back as that tends to startle the animal.
  • Pay attention to a dog’s body language, looking for cues that it might be uncomfortable like a tensed body, stiff tail, pulled-back head or ears, yawning and intense staring.
  • If it looks like a dog might attack, resist the impulse to scream or run away. Stay motionless with your hands at your side. Once the dog loses interest, slowly back away.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, hat, purse or anything else you can put between you and the dog. If you fall, curl into a ball and lay as still as possible with your hands over your head and neck.
  • After a dog bite, immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and then report the dog bite to your local animal control agency.

Be a Responsible Dog Owner

As a dog owner, there are many steps you can take to ensure that your dog does not bite anyone. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also your obligation under state and local law. A good start is consulting a veterinarian on suitable dogs for your household. The following tips may be helpful as well.

  • Because so many dog bites happen to very young children, you may want to wait until your children are at least four-years-old (or older) before bringing home a dog.
  • Socialize your pet as a puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Train your dog on basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “no” and “come” to build a bond of obedience and trust. It is also important to exercise and spend time with your dog as dogs left alone too much can develop behavioral problems.
  • Keep your dog healthy and feeling well with all required vaccinations. Neutering your pet can also lessen aggression.

For more information, download this free brochure from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or check out the Blue Dog Parent Guide for tips on how to help children safely interact with dogs.

Petro Cohen’s Personal Injury Team Can Help with Your Dog Bite Claim

Susan Petro, who heads the PI department and is also the Managing Partner of the firm, along with Richard W. Gaeckle and Michael Veneziani, have successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases for clients throughout Southern New Jersey. Additionally, Richard Gaeckle has been named to the NJ Super Lawyers® list nine years in the practice area of personal injury. Richard also has a Superb rating on AVVO and an A/V rating with Martindale-Hubbell, both of which are the highest possible ratings by the respective organizations.

In addition to dog bites, our attorneys have dealt with a variety of serious personal injury claims. Whether your injury resulted from a vehicular or bicycle accident, or a slip and fall accident, or a construction site accident, we can assist. We have also successfully handled many claims against public entities, traumatic brain injuries, maritime personal injury and boating accident cases, premises liability claims, pedestrian injuries, and many other types of personal injury cases.

We know you have choices with your legal representation for your serious personal injury.   Select Excellence. In Litigation,You Don’t Get a Second Chance.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you, a family member, or a friend have been injured by someone else’s dog, you need a consultation with the New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo.

Whether you are facing a dog bite injury or another type of serious personal injury, our team of qualified attorneys can assist you and have many clients who are willing to share their positive experiences through testimonials they have graciously provided.

We have offices in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ.  You may contact any of our offices Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM to schedule a convenient appointment. In many cases when clients are unable to come to our offices, our attorneys will come to you to discuss your case, and there is never a fee for an initial consultation.

Call us today at (888) 675-7607 for your free consultation or fill out our online contact form.


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  • Highest firm rating (A/V) from Martindale-Hubbell
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