If a dog has been bitten you or a family member, you know what a terrifying and traumatizing experience it can be. Although dogs can be wonderful guardians and companions, they are dangerous animals when they attack.
New Jersey law makes dog owners responsible if their dog bites, even if there was no prior indication that the dog might be aggressive. You could seek damages from the dog’s owner if you were bitten or attacked by a dog.
A knowledgeable injury attorney could explain the state’s dog bite law and assess your claim’s chances of success. Do not delay seeking the advice of a New Brunswick dog bite lawyer before getting started with your case.
Many states do not hold a dog owner liable for an attack unless the dog has a history of biting or there were other signs that the dog might be vicious. New Jersey does not follow this rule. New Jersey General and Permanent Statutes §4:19-16 holds dog owners liable for their dog’s bite regardless of whether the owner knew about the dog’s propensity to bite, and even if the owner restrained the animal and warned others away.
This is called strict liability, and it makes it easier for someone who was bitten to recover damages from the dog owner. The plaintiff’s attorney does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent in order for the plaintiff to receive damages.
The law makes owners liable for dog bites that occur on public land and private land, as long as the plaintiff was legally on the private land. So, if a bite occurs when someone in a park, on the beach, or on a city sidewalk, the owner is liable. Similarly, if it occurs in a vet’s office, the elevator of an apartment building, a restaurant, or a friend’s back yard, the owner is liable as long as the plaintiff was there legally.
If the plaintiff was trespassing when the bite occurred, the owner may not be liable. Insurance companies might try to defend their insured by asserting that the plaintiff was a trespasser. An injury attorney in New Brunswick could counter that assertion by presenting evidence that the plaintiff had permission to be on the property.
A plaintiff whose behavior could have agitated the dog might collect a smaller damage award. New Jersey follows the comparative negligence doctrine, which holds a plaintiff responsible for actions that might have contributed to their injuries. An attorney could advise whether comparative negligence might be a factor in a specific situation.
At trial, a jury determines how much blame each party holds for the incident. In a dog bite case, if the owner presents evidence that the plaintiff incited the attack, a jury might decide the plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries. A plaintiff could collect reduced damages as long as the jury sets their portion of the blame at 50 percent or less.
If someone’s dog has bitten you or a family member, you deserve compensation. The law allows you to recoup medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering—even therapy, if you need help dealing with the trauma.
Call on an experienced New Brunswick dog bite attorney to help you pursue your case. Time is of the essence, so do not delay.