LEGAL CONCERNS WITH ANIMAL BITES

A cat or dog bite can be more serious than you think. Therefore New Jersey has a very strict procedure in place for animal bites and even minor scratches.

What to do first if you are bitten?  Get medical treatment. Infection is a serious risk, with thousands of cases of cat scratch fever occurring around the United States every year. Your physician can competently clean your wound and advise you of what symptoms to look out for that may indicate a more serious problem. Doctors will also report the bite to the local health department, as required by New Jersey law. Once the case is reported, the animal will be taken to a shelter for a quarantine period. During this time, the shelter will look for signs of rabies or other illnesses that may require further testing.

If the animal is showing signs of illness or rabies, a sample will be taken and sent to a laboratory. When a person is bitten by an infected animal, she needs to start taking the rabies vaccine within three days of the bite. For this reason, many physicians and animal shelters will recommend the vaccine be started even before test results are received.

Animal owners should also always ensure that their pet’s vaccines are up to date. In addition to rabies infections, dog and cat bites can cause serious injuries. Many victims suffer from scarring and disfigurement, especially if they have been bitten several times, particularly on the face. An experienced attorney will obtain the opinion of a board certified plastic surgeon as to whether the scar is permanent, or susceptible to a surgical revision.

New Jersey is a strict liability state, which means that animal owners are held responsible any time their animals bite, scratch, or injure another person. The animal’s history of aggressiveness (or lack thereof) is not taken into consideration. New Jersey pet owners do not get one free bite.

Animal bites are serious.  You need an equally serious attorney.  Call us today.

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Charles D. Whelan III has been committed to excellence for over 30 years. With offices located centrally in New Jersey, he is able to provide businesses and individuals with excellent legal services.

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