When New Jersey families decide to spend some time out of town, they often worry about the welfare of their pets. Pet owners may be troubled by who is going to take care of their beloved dogs while they are on vacation. When this situation happens, pet sitters can be hired to care for the pets in their own homes. However, because pet sitters can be considered as strangers to the pet, the caretakers are sometimes victims of animal attacks or dog bites.

In New Jersey, a woman who is a pet sitter was hired to take care of a golden retriever while the owners were gone for a long vacation. In exchange for the services, the pet’s caretaker would receive $300 as payment. Unfortunately, the dog bit her. According to the report, the caretaker was about to pick up a napkin from the floor when the golden retriever bit her hand. Due to this, the pet sitter suffered injuries that necessitated treatment at a hospital.

Consequently, the pet sitter filed a lawsuit to obtain damages from the dog’s owners. Yet, the court ruled that the sitter was not eligible for damages unless she could prove that the dog owners knew the potential danger of their pet biting the pet sitter. The case was taken to the appellate court, which stated that the pet sitter can sue the dog owners for liability because her relationship with the owners was informal and did not arise from her job as a pet sitter. The lawsuit has been sent back to the lower court for further trial.

Being bitten by an animal can typically result in serious injuries that may require long-term medication. Due to the fact that dog attacks can cause scars, this incident may harm the victim’s self esteem and perception towards other animals.

In cases like these, dog owners can be held responsible if their pets injure an individual. Some states may require the plaintiff to prove that the pet owners knew their pet’s tendencies to attack but failed to warn about it. Other states do not require such proof. Dog attack victims may be compensated for their medical expenses, emotional suffering and lost wages until full recovery is achieved.

Source: NJ.com, “Appeals court rules Bergen County petsitter may sue owners of dog that bit her,” Dan Ivers, Dec. 22, 2012