NJ Supreme Court Takes up Dog Attack Damages

The Supreme Court of New Jersey has agreed to hear a case that will determine whether a dog owner can sue for emotional distress after witnessing an attack by another dog that killed the owner’s pet.  The current law considers pets property for which only economic damages can be sought (i.e. veterinary costs, etc), but does not allow owners to sue for the pain and suffering involved when a pet is lost under such tragic circumstances.

Evidently, the case stems from the 2007 attack Morris Plains where a Poodle-Maltese mix was attacked and killed by a larger dog. Joyce McDougall watched her dog, “Angel,” mauled to death.  McDougall was awarded $5,000 for replacement of the dog. However, the judge held that as amatter of law she was not entitled to damages for emotional distress.  The ruling was appealed and the New Jersey Appellate Division agreed that McDougall was not entitled to pain and suffering damages.

McDougal then appealed to the State’s highest court, which has agreed to hear the case.  However, it seems unlikely that the Court will reverse the lower courts.  Although I completely agree that any pet owner that watched their dog get mauled to death by another dog should be able to pursue that dog’s owner for more than mere “economic” damages, it is the province of the legislature to enact such a law.   Anyone who is interested in seeing such a law be enacted should contact their local politicians and demand the law be changed.

If you or someone you know was attacked by an vicious dog or animal you need to take care of your physical health immediately and then consult New Jersey Dog Bite Attack Lawyer as soon as possible. New Jersey laws can limit the amount of time you have to take action, so you need to act quickly. There may be no such thing as a bad dog, but even the best dogs can cause excruciating and traumatic injuries.


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