Trenton, New Jersey—A state appellate court in New Jersey has ruled that a woman who was paid to watch a dog can sue the animal’s owners for a bite injury she sustained, according to Fox New York News. Normally, an owner can be sued for a dog bite; however, an earlier court ruling had barred the woman’s suit based on the fact that the dog was not known to be dangerous. Victims of dog bites are often forced to hire a dog bite attorney to help them recover damages.
Facts of the Case
The woman, who resides in Bergen County, had agreed to watch her neighbor’s dog, a golden retriever, while the family was on vacation. In return, the owner agreed to pay the woman $300. She took the dog to her home and the animal reportedly bit her when she reached to pick up a napkin.
The woman sued the family in Superior Court for the damages she received as a result of the dog bite. However, the court ruled that the woman was not entitled to collect damages unless she could reasonably prove that the animal was known to be prone to biting or attacks.
However, the appellate court disagreed with the Superior Court judge’s ruling. The appellate court based its decision on the fact that the woman should have been treated as an independent contractor performing a job for the couple. It was established that the woman earned money by pet-sitting, and the appellate court ruled that this changed the circumstances under which the dog bite would be treated.
Liability Issues with Dog Bites
Every state applies its own rules about dog bites. In some states, there is a “one bite” rule. This essentially means that the first time a dog bites, the owner is not liable for damages because the owner must have knowledge that the dog was vicious. Any subsequent bites can result in a lawsuit against the owner for damages.
In California, however, owners are responsible for their animals no matter how many times they may or may not have bitten. The first time a dog bites and causes injury in our state, the owner can be held liable for damages.
What To Do If You Are Bitten By A Dog
Dog bites are a special type of personal injury because they involve not only physical trauma but health risks. Dogs carry a number of diseases, and an owner who fails to have his or her animal vaccinated can unwitting cause death or serious medical problems for a victim who is bitten by the dog at a later time.
If you are bitten by a dog, the first thing to do is to seek immediately medical attention. Even if the bite looks slight or is not very painful, it is important for you to have the wound cleansed and begin a course of treatment in case of any infectious diseases that may be present.
Next, gather your medical records and visit a personal injury lawyer who handles dog bite cases for advice on how to recover damages for your injuries.