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Dog bite cases: Who is liable for damages?

As much as we love them, we have to remember that dogs are more than just pets and members of our families: They're also animals.

Because they're animals, they can act in unpredictable and even violent ways. The nicest and smallest dog could attack and cause devastating injuries if it is provoked or threatened.

The question is: Who is financially liable for a dog attack when an unfortunate event like this happens?

Potentially liable parties following an injurious dog attack

Medical treatment for dog-related injuries can be costly. Victims may require surgery, rehabilitation and even plastic surgery following a vicious animal attack. Dog attack victims might also lose income if they're unable to work while recovering from their injuries. Believe it or not, the owner of a dog is not the only one who could be liable for the costs stemming from a dog attack.

Here are the various parties that could be responsible for a dog attack:

The animal owner: The go-to defendant in a dog attack case will always be the animal owner. These individuals generally have a responsibility to prevent their animals from hurting others in the community. The responsibility of the dog owner is even higher if the dog has a history of violence.

Property owners: If a property owner allows dogs to congregate on his or her property, the property owner could be legally responsible for the actions of these animals, even if the animals don't belong to the property owner.

Landlords: Landlords who permit dangerous animals to reside on their properties -- for example, if one of their tenants keeps the animal in an apartment -- could be liable for injuries and attacks committed by those animals.

Animal keepers and their employers: Some people might be temporarily responsible to care for an animal. This might be an animal sitter, a dog walker, a kennel keeper or an employee of the pound. These individuals -- and their employing organizations -- must prevent the animals under their control from attacking others.

Parents of children in control of dogs: Children must control their animals to prevent them from attacking others. If a child in control of a dog, for example, fails to keep the dog from hurting someone, the child's parents might be liable for resulting injuries.

Holding at-fault parties responsible for dog bite injuries

In the state of New Jersey, the victims of dog attacks may have the ability to pursue financial compensation by holding those responsible for their injuries liable for damages. By studying the law, their injuries and the circumstances of the dog attack, victims can establish a clear picture of liability as well as their legal rights and options.

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