Dog bite case on school grounds brings added complications

Another interesting story regarding the laws that apply to dog bites has occurred, but again it happened outside of Illinois. So even though the circumstances are interesting, the rulings contained within this story don’t apply here. If you’ll recall, we wrote about Maryland’s push to hold dog owner’s more accountable for their dog’s actions should it buy an “innocent victim.” We used that story to illustrate the importance of getting the dog owner’s information as quickly as possible.

Now comes a story out of New Jersey about premises liability when a dog bite occurs, specifically in relation to schools and their liability when it is after school hours.

A woman in New Jersey was bit by someone’s dog — a dog that was known to be a nuisance in the neighborhood — when she was on a school’s property. She was on school grounds because she was trying to get to a local diner, and she figured she would take a shortcut through the school grounds.

She sued the dog’s owner and the principal of the school. The former claims were dismissed. The latter claims went to trial, but the principal and the school were cleared of wrongdoing, even though they did not call the police or animal control when they were alerted about the dangerous dog previously.

The woman’s claim was taken to higher courts, the first of which reversed the original decision and said the principal should have called the authorities previously and, thus, was indirectly responsible for the woman’s injuries. But that ruling was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, and it, too, was overturned.

This serves as a reminder that dog bite cases, though they may seem simple, are often anything but. There are complex rules and regulations at play, and anyone who is bitten by a dog needs to consult an attorney so that they can be properly advised on how to proceed following the bite.

Source:, “Principal not liable for dog attack,” Daniel J. Kov, March 26, 2014

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