New Jersey Court: Pet Sitter Can Sue Dog’s Owners Over Bite

December 27, 2012

A New Jersey appellate court says a woman injured by a dog she was being paid to watch can sue the animal’s owners.

The Star-Ledger reports the Bergen County woman agreed to care for her neighbor’s golden retriever while they were on vacation. In exchange, she would get about $300.

While at the woman’s home, the dog bit and injured her when she tried to pick up a napkin. But a Superior Court judge ruled she wasn’t entitled to damages unless she showed the dog’s owners knew it was vicious or prone to attacks.

But the appellate court disagreed in a decision issued on Dec. 21.

The panel found the judge erred by classifying the woman as an independent contractor, because she earned extra income by working for a pet-sitting agency.

[Dog bite claims accounted for over one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars in 2011, according to The Hanover Insurance Group in Worcester, Mass. Rising medical expenses as well as the growing size of legal settlements are among the factors driving the significant increase in the cost of claims.]

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