As a crime victim, you might feel upset and vulnerable. As lawyers who value justice, our hearts go out to you.
Filing a formal complaint could help you restore your peace of mind. Criminal charges do not undo the pain of a wrongful act. Yet, there is satisfaction in making wrongdoers face the consequences of their actions.
If someone’s dog caused you harm, you might wonder if the law is on your side. We hope the following information helps ease your mind, and we invite you to contact Judd Shaw Injury Law for a personalized review of your case.
For our diligent staff, justice never sleeps. Call (866) 909-6894 any hour of day or night to schedule your free legal consultation.
When Pets Bite People
New Jersey’s strict liability laws protect you when a dog attacks you. The dog owner must shoulder the responsibility for his or her pet, even if it is the first time the animal has bitten anyone. These rules apply as long as you were legally on public or private property.
In many cases, dog bite victims pursue civil lawsuits to recover damages for their injuries. However, what if the animal was a trained attack dog? What if the owner intentionally let the dog loose, knowing it would chase you?
If the attack was no accident, the dog owner could face charges like:
- Fourth-degree assault: The dog intimidates or threatens someone
- Third-degree assault: The dog injures a civilian
- Second-degree assault: The dog injures a law enforcement officer
In a few instances, a non-owner might hold responsibility for a dog. For example, you could have grounds for a case if business owners or landlords ignored reports of a vicious stray on their property. By failing to remove the threat, they risk assuming liability for any resulting injuries since the danger was foreseeable.
Do not hesitate to make a police report if you were the victim of a malicious attack. These reports can further back up your case and may be required by law in your area.
When Dogs Threaten Other Animals
Sometimes dogs attack other animals. Owners of the attacking dogs become liable for the cash value of wounded or killed domestic animals, such as sheep, cattle, and poultry. A civil action is the typical means of recovering damages for losses.
An animal owner could face criminal charges if found guilty of:
- Owning or selling dogs (or a venue) for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting
- Promoting or permitting fights for entertainment or financial gain
- Paying admission for or watching fighting matches
- Gambling on the outcome of a fight
- Possessing or selling dog fight paraphernalia
If convicted of this third-degree offense, perpetrators can face the seizure of property and restrictions against ever owning a dog again. They might also have to reimburse money used to foster, place, or rehabilitate seized animals.
When Animals Destroy Property
If a neighborhood dog digs up your landscaping or destroys your fence, annoyance is only natural. Your dismay might multiply if the repairs are costly. Yet, is this a crime?
In general, no. Homeowner’s insurance policies sometimes cover these types of damages. Minimum coverage policies often include at least $100,000 in liability for property damage, and pet owners can set higher limits based on their assets.
You might be able to recover the expenses of fixing your property and living costs if you have to stay elsewhere while the work is being done at your home.
Even if the dog owner admits fault, getting insurers to pay up can be challenging. Our attorneys can help you understand if the homeowner’s policy (yours or the dog owner’s) covers the damage. Then we can fight until you get the money you are due.
If the Dog Owner Makes False Claims
In the United States, roughly 500,000 service dogs serve as guides and companions for people with various disabilities. It is illegal to misrepresent a pet as a licensed service dog in New Jersey. An offender might face fines of up to $500.
According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” They are working animals, not pets.
Service animals, like pet dogs, must be under the handler’s control. They should wear a leash while off the owner’s property. If the individual’s disability makes it difficult to hold a leash, the owner must control the dog with vocal commands or other control methods.
The ADA specifies that dogs “whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals.” So, while federal law allows service animals to accompany their owners in most public places, a non-service dog could be legally prohibited from the same locations.
Both an out-of-control or fake service animal could be a danger to others. If the dog shows aggressive behavior or barks excessively, the owner could be liable for the disruption and any resulting injuries.
When People Hurt Animals
Sometimes dogs need protection from their owners. Animal cruelty includes offenses such as:
- Failing to provide necessary care like food, water, and shelter
- Leaving an animal in a harmful situation (e.g. in a hot car)
- Abandoning a dog
- Torturing or needlessly killing a pet
State officials can seize endangered animals as a measure of protection. Those mistreating animals could face fines and criminal charges similar to misdemeanors and felonies. They can even end up in jail. In addition, violators might need to pay up to $5000 plus costs in civil lawsuits.
As Time Passes
Suppose you had a negative encounter with a dog, but months or even years have passed since the event. You might be wondering whether you can still take criminal or civil action.
Here are the details regarding each:
- Criminal charges: The State of New Jersey, for example, restricts how long the government has to prosecute alleged criminals. The deadlines vary based on the type of crime committed and the victim’s age. Some crimes, like murder, do not have a time limit.
- Civil actions: The time allowed for a personal injury lawsuit depends on the type of accident, the date the injury occurred or was discovered, and if the victim was a minor at the time of the event.
At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we offer free consultations to victims of crime and personal injury accidents. Contacting us soon after an incident can help us gather fresh evidence and promptly build a strong case.
Yet, even if it has been a while, you still might be entitled to receive significant compensation. Why not reach out to us at your earliest convenience?
Judd Shaw Injury Law Is Ready to Rescue You
As a New Jersey resident or visitor, you have the right to report the owners of mistreated dogs to animal welfare. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crime involving an animal, you can depend on our lawyers to help you figure out the next step to take.
In a criminal lawsuit, state or federal prosecutors decide whether or not to press charges. Your testimony will be vital to determining whether there is grounds to impose criminal charges. In many cases, though, you can file civil charges in addition to or instead of pursuing criminal charges. This means filing a personal injury claim with the help of a trustworthy firm like Judd Shaw Injury Law.
Would you like to understand your rights and options? Our lawyers are eager and capable of fighting for justice; getting in touch depends on you. Speak to a team member about your options at no cost by calling (866) 909-6894 or clicking the chat icon below.