Can a Dog Bite Fatality Lead to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
We love our dogs and many consider them a part of their family. But we tend to forget that dogs are animals and can strike out. So what could happen if a family member is not only attacked by a dog but is fatally wounded? Do you have a wrongful death lawsuit on your hands?
Dog Bite Fatality Statistics
Dog bite fatalities happen more often than you may imagine. According to DogsBite.org, there were 31 dog bite-related fatalities throughout the United States in 2016. The two most lethal breeds were pit bulls and rottweilers — they accounted for 77 percent of the total recorded deaths in 2016. In the past 12 years, pit bulls had killed 254 people in the United States. That adds up to approximately one person every 17 days.
Who is the most likely to be bitten? The data states that 42 percent of dog bite fatality victims were either visiting or living temporarily with the dog’s owner when the attack occurred. Yet, despite the deadly attacks, only 6 percent of these fatalities led to criminal charges being filed.
Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?
So let’s create a scenario: Let’s say your brother was visiting a friend of his who owned a bulldog. Although the dog is normally a friendly animal to people it knows, it can get aggressive around strangers. Since it only met your brother once, it considered him a stranger and attacked him, biting his throat. Your brother was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately did not survive the attack. Can you sue the friend for wrongful death?
According to New Jersey law, if you are bitten by a dog on public property, you can hold the owner liable. And yes, you can sue for wrongful death. In New Jersey, the estate of the deseased can bring legal action against another person whose negligence caused the death. In the scenario above, since the owner of the dog did nothing to prevent the attack (such as warn your brother, prevent the dog from meeting your brother, etc.), then the owner can be held liable.
Not only do you have a wrongful death suit, but you may also file criminal charges if the dog is considered a “dangerous dog.” According to the New Jersey Vicious and Dangerous Dog Act, any dog that has a history of aggressive behavior can be considered a dangerous dog. The owner is required to take extra care to protect the public. This may mean getting a muzzle, a cage, or a stronger fence around his/her property. If the dog bites twice, then it will be put to death.
If you were a victim of a dog attack or someone you lived has died as a result of a dog bite, we want to help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.