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The cost of dog bites is on the rise

There are many New Jersey residents who own dogs that can quickly turn aggressive. What they may not know is that if that dog bites someone, the owner can be held responsible. Even if the have insurance that covers animal bites, they may find that their insurance premiums could go up.

Across the nation, the number of dog bite claims has declined by approximately 9 percent over a 12-year period. However, the cost of dog attacks has only gone up. In fact, the cost associated with dog attacks has risen 94 percent over the same period to $571 million. This cost includes dog bites and other injuries that could result from dog attacks, including head injuries. Children under the age of 14 account for about 33 percent of all dog attacks while mail carriers are another major at-risk group.

When a dog does attack, the owner of the animal is responsible for any damages the injured person sustained, regardless of whether the owner was aware of the animal's dangerous propensity. This is because like many other states, New Jersey has a strict liability dog bite statute.

There are also situations where another party, such as a property owner, can be held financially responsible for a victim's dog bite injuries. If the owner of a home, for example, allows another dog that is known to be aggressive on his or her property and then the dog bites a guest, the owner could possibly be named as an additional defendant under the theory of premises liability. An attorney who has experience in these matters can provide further information in this regard to an injured victim.

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