Although many neighborhoods seem to have as many dogs as people, dog ownership comes with risks and responsibility. Sadly, some dog owners do not behave responsibly and innocent people, particularly children, might be harmed.
Dog bites can cause severe injury and even death. If you or a member of your family has been bitten by a dog, you could be entitled to damages. Seek out a Milltown dog bite lawyer to assist you in getting appropriate compensation for your injuries.
In some states, a dog owner must be aware of a dog’s vicious tendencies in order to be liable if it bites. New Jersey takes a different approach. New Jersey Statute 4:19-16 makes a dog owner liable for any bite injuries their dog inflicts, regardless of whether the animal has a history of aggression.
A dog owner is strictly liable when their dog bites someone on public property or legally on private property. However, an owner will not be strictly liable if the bite took place when the injured person was trespassing on private property or if the injured person provoked the attack.
Someone who suffers a dog bite should note the address where the attack occurred, get the owner’s contact information if possible, take a photograph of the dog if that can be accomplished in safety, and seek immediate medical attention. In order to hold an owner liable under the statute, the injured person must prove a particular dog inflicted the injuries and identify the owner of that specific dog. A plaintiff’s attorney could use proof of the identity of both the dog and the owner, as well as medical records confirming an injury, to support an injured person’s claim for damages.
The strict liability statute covers only injuries resulting from dog bites. If someone suffered an injury because a dog knocked them down or scratched them, this statute would not apply. In such cases, an injured person’s attorney could bring a negligence action.
Proving negligence requires a demonstration that the dog owner failed to control their animal and as a result, someone suffered a verifiable injury that caused a provable loss. Just like in a strict liability action for a dog bite, a negligence action for a dog attack is less likely to be successful if the injured person was trespassing at the time or if they behaved in a manner that induced the attack.
New Jersey law offers people who sue for damages resulting from personal injuries two years to file a lawsuit against any potentially responsible parties. However, it is advantageous for the victim of a dog attack to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident.
Many homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover injuries inflicted by a family pet. When insurance coverage is available a victim might receive a settlement sooner than if they have to pursue damages from a dog owner’s personal assets. An advocate experienced in dog attack cases could immediately investigate whether insurance coverage might be available and make the appropriate notices promptly.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury in an animal attack, you might be tempted to handle it on your own, especially if the dog’s owner is a friend, neighbor, or relative. However, that would be unwise. It is best to put these cases in the hands of an experienced professional.
A Milltown dog bite lawyer could investigate the attack and determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances. To preserve all your legal options, schedule an appointment for a case review as soon as possible after the incident.