What is my liability in a dog fight?

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What is my liability in a dog fight?

My dog escaped from my house and fought a leashed dog who was being walked by its owner. Both dogs were injured. I didn’t take mine to a vet, the other owner did – am I fully liable for vet bills incurred? I live in New Jersey.

Asked on June 24, 2009 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The New Jersey dog bite statute doesn't apply here, because no person was bitten.  So the case, if it went to court, would be about whether or not you were negligent.  Some of the factual questions would be whether or not your dog had any previous incidents of aggressive behavior or getting loose, and whether what you did (or didn't do) to keep the dog in the house was reasonable.  I think it's more likely than not, unless the dog's escape was really remarkable, that you'd be found negligent, and ordered to pay.

A dog that will attack another dog is probably capable of attacking a person.  If that happens, you will be absolutely liable for any and all injuries caused to any person your dog bites, under the statute.

L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no state wide leash law in New Jersey, so you would have to call your municipality or township to ask about the local leash law.  However, if your dog is found to be potentially dangerous, (and escaping to fight with another dog who is leashed may be enough to do so), you will likely be held liable for the other dog's vet bills.  My advice?  Pay them.  It's the right thing to do,


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