Dog Bite on Face Leaves Man with Scarring and Emotional Damage. Sues under Dog Bite Law
During the summer of 2005, Plaintiff was bitten on the face, neck and head by the 75-pound dog of his brother and sister-in-law while visiting them at their home in Stone Harbor.
Plaintiff suffered an approximately 5-inch wound to his right cheek, including his upper and lower lip on the side of his mouth. Emergency surgery was performed to close the wound. Thereafter, the plaintiff treated with his family physician and then underwent physical therapy to treat the scar for seven weeks.
In addition to his physical injuries, Plaintiff claimed that the dog bite caused him depression and anxiety. He complained of nightmares and flashbacks, and he sought treatment with a psychologist 18 months after the accident. The psychologist reported that the plaintiff’s mental suffering was attributable to the deterioration of his relationship with his brother that resulted from the lawsuit.
Plaintiff sued his brother and sister-in-law under theories of strict liability and negligence. The plaintiff sought damages for pain and suffering, medical bills and wage loss. The defendants denied liability and alleged that any injuries the plaintiff sustained were the result of his own negligence.
The plaintiff’s plastic surgery expert, and the defendant’s orthopedic and plastic surgery expert, agreed that Plaintiff had sustained tissue loss but that the wound had healed completely with minimal to no neural damage. Both experts also agreed that although there was no functional deficit, there was some permanent scarring. One expert recommended that fillers be injected to improve the patient’s appearance.
In a non-binding arbitration, Plaintiff was awarded damages in the amount of $124,336. Neither the plaintiff nor the defendants appealed the award, so the court entered it as a final judgment.
Severe Leg Injury for Grandmother Protecting Granddaughter from Dog Attack
Plaintiff was at the home of her cousins for a barbecue when their dog, half German Shepherd and half pit bull, attacked her. She was holding her granddaughter in her lap when the dog approached her without warning. Plaintiff turned her body to shield the baby from the dog, and it jumped onto her right hip with its front paws. The baby’s leg was scratched, but she was otherwise unharmed.
Plaintiff held her granddaughter above her head as high as possible as the dog locked its jaws into her right leg between the calf and ankle. She eventually handed the baby to a relative. The dog would not release its grip until finally someone hit the animal with a shovel.
Plaintiff was taken to University Hospital by Newark police. She was in shock following the attack and had significant exposed muscle, nerve and bone from large lacerations of the right leg. The dog had even shattered the plaintiff’s tibial shaft with its teeth. On Sept. 9, 2005, Plaintiff underwent surgery to repair 9 wounds that circled her lower leg. A split-thickness graft was taken from her upper right thigh to cover areas where muscle tissue had been removed.
Plaintiff has residual nerve damage, swelling, and visible scarring that is depressed and hyper pigmented. The plaintiff sometimes requires the use of a cane. According to her attorney, she will require additional plastic surgery.
Plaintiff subsequently sued the homeowners insurance carrier, Contributorship Insurance Co. of Philadelphia, for premises liability. Although she was unemployed at the time of the accident, Plaintiff had substantial experience as a social worker. She estimated her lost wages to be between $60,000 and $80,000. She claimed that she is unable to return to work.
Additionally, Plaintiff claimed that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after the attack. She underwent psychotherapy for stress and depression, and because she fears future attacks, Plaintiff carries spray repellant for dogs and takes precautions to avoid encounters with dogs.
Prior to jury selection in the Essex County Superior Court, the defendants’ insurance carrier settled the suit with Plaintiff for $490,000. The defendants’ policy had a $500,000 cap. The insurance carrier had made an initial payment to the plaintiff of $5,000 for immediate medical expenses, bringing the total settlement amount to $495,000.
Child Loses Part of Finger, Sustains Other Serious Injuries and Scarring in Dog Bite Attack
In November of 2004, Plaintiff, 9, was bitten in the face, hand and arm by a Boxer/Doberman mix owned by a friend of plaintiff’s sister. The plaintiff’s school was closed for the day in observance of Veterans Day. Plaintiff was visiting the defendants’ home with her older sister, who was working on a school project with the defendants’ daughter. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that plaintiff told the older girls she was going into the backyard to play. She was attacked in the yard by the defendants’ dog.
The plaintiff was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center following the attack. She sustained an avulsion of the middle finger of her left, non-dominant, hand. The tip was bitten off and was never located. The dog also bit her face and her right arm. She had numerous stitches at all injury sites, and she has severe scarring. Following the accident, plaintiff claimed to have emotional distress and that she had difficulty sleeping.
Plaintiff’s mother sued the defendants as plaintiff’s guardian ad litem under New Jersey’s strict liability Dog Bite Statute. The Dog Bite Statute requires proof that there was a bite, that the defendant owned the dog and that the plaintiff was not trespassing at the time of injury. The defendants claimed that plaintiff had not asked for permission to go into the backyard, and that plaintiff exceeded the scope of her invitation when she entered the yard and further, that she may have provoked the dog.
Prior to a trial on damages, the plaintiff settled with the defendants insurance provider, Travelers, for $250,000.
Dog Bite on Face of Band Member Affects Career; Mediator Awards Large Settlement
In May of 2006, plaintiff, the lead guitarist in a heavy metal rock band, was visiting his girlfrend at her Bergenfield home when her 40-pound, mixed-breed dog jumped into his lap, licked his face and bit his nose. The next day, Plaintiff treated in an emergency room for a gash on his nose and two punctures in his upper lip. The nose scar could not be repaired with plastic surgery and plaintiff suffered nerve damage to the upper lip, which affected his speech, his song voice, and inhibited his ability to voluntarily raise his upper lip. After the incident, Plaintiff started applying makeup to the scars when he performed with his band.
Plaintiff sued his girlfriend, claiming $5,000 in medical bills plus pain and suffering. A few weeks earlier, the dog underwent leg surgery and was sensitive in that area. Defendant also failed to inform her boyfriend that the dog had previously bitten another dog.
In New Jersey, a dog bite is strict liability. The defense did not contest liability or argue for comparative negligence, nor did they contest the nose injury or the extent of the scarring. Instead, the defendants retained an expert cosmetic surgeon to say that further surgery could reduce the scarring.
The parties mediated the case and eventually settled the dispute for $375,000.
Landscaper Attacked by German Shepherds Sues under Strict Liability Dog Bite Law
In 2007 Plaintiff was working for a temporary landscaping agency at the home of defendant in Princeton Township when he was bitten by the defendants’ five German shepherds.
Plaintiff suffered bite marks from his lower legs to the top of his head, including a deep wound to his right thigh, which had to remain open to allow dog saliva to drain out. In addition, he had numerous stitches on his head and legs. He was hospitalized for 2 days. Plaintiff missed 4 weeks of work. Plaintiff has scarring on his thigh. Plastic surgery will cost approximately $15,000 according to plaintiff’s counsel. Plaintiff incurred medical bills of around $26,000.
Plaintiff sued the defendants on a dog bite theory. Plaintiff’s attorney claimed that the defendants allowed their dogs to roam free in their backyard. Plaintiff had permission from the defendants to be on the property at the time.
The matter was settled pre-suit with defendants’ insurer, Chubb, for $250,000. The defendants also agreed to pay off plaintiff’s worker’s compensation lien.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact our New Jersey personal injury lawyers to discuss your case.