New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer
Injured by a Dog in NJ?
Most dogs are wonderful pets, but some owners fail to socialize their dogs, mistreat their dogs, or otherwise create a situation where a dog bite can occur. Even good dog owners can be caught off guard when their dog attacks someone. Essentially, the law in New Jersey does not differentiate between the type of dog or the prior viciousness of the particular dog when a dog bite occurs. In all instances, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any injuries caused if the dog attacks an individual when he or she comes lawfully into contact with that dog.
If a dog attacks you, our New Jersey Dog Bite Attorneys will seek to determine the extent of your injuries and thereafter fight to obtain the justice you deserve. Owners of dogs who cause injuries to others should be held responsible for the harm their dogs cause and New Jersey law specifically recognizes this. If you have been bitten by a dog in New Jersey, our lawyers will seek to hold the proper individual or individuals accountable for your dog bite injury. We will conduct a thorough investigation and determine who should be held responsible. After determining liability, we will aggressively pursue compensation for the medical bills, any lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as compensation if the bite left you with a permanent scar. Call us now at 732-810-0336 to discuss your potential dog bite claim and what we can do to help.
Strict Liability for Dog Bites in New Jersey
New Jersey Revised Statute § 4:19-16 governs dog bites in the state. That statute provides that a dog’s owner is liable for the consequences of any dog bite that occurs when the person who suffers the bite is in a public place, or lawfully on private property, regardless of any prior indication or the owner’s prior knowledge of whether the dog was vicious.
This is a broad, comprehensive statute. If a dog bites someone, the owner is most likely liable for the bite. This is true regardless of whether this was the first time the dog had ever bitten someone, or whether the owner had ever seen the dog act aggressively before. This type of statute is known as a “strict liability” statute. In basic terms, if a dog bites someone, the owner is responsible.
Winning a Dog Bite Case in NJ
Under the statute outlined above, to successfully win a dog bite lawsuit, you must only prove that the bite took place. You must also prove that the defendant was the owner of the dog and when you were bit, you were in a lawful place. If you are able to offer such proof, you have sufficient cause to win your dog bite case because N.J.S.A. 4:19-6 makes liability for a dog bite, under these circumstances, a strict liability case. You do not have to prove that the dog was a dangerous or vicious animal and you do not have to prove that the owner knew the dog was vicious or aggressive. If you establish that the owner is liable for the bite, you may be able to recover economic damages covering your medical bills and lost wages, and you may also be able to recover money damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
Trespassing is the only common defense that a dog’s owner can raise in a dog bite lawsuit where there is proof that the bite occurred. If you were trespassing on private property at the time of the bite, the owner can establish under N.J. Rev Stat § 4:19-16 that you were not “lawfully upon private property,” and thus you cannot recover damages under that statute.
On a related note, you can also prove that a dog’s owner was negligent, even if no dog bite occurs. If an unsupervised dog knocks over a toddler or otherwise causes injury without biting anyone, you may be able to prove a negligence case—as opposed to a strict liability case under the statute discussed above—against the dog’s owner. Dog owners are required to act with reasonable care in controlling their dog under the circumstances, and if the owner fails to take reasonable care and you are hurt as a result, you may be able to recover damages based on the owner’s negligence.
How Common are Dog Bites?
Dog bite statistics are relatively alarming. Over 4.5 million people each year suffer from a dog bite. Hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer serious injuries as a result of a dog bite, including injuries that require hospitalization. According to data on Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites,
2008 Each day about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for serious dog bite injuries. Annually, about 9,500 citizens are hospitalized due to dog bite injuries.1
Certain dogs are obviously more dangerous than others. According to statistics from the CDC, the most dangerous breeds of dogs include Pit Bulls, also known as the American Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Additionally, Rottweiler’s, German Shepherds and several other breeds are considered dangerous breeds of dogs. However, there is significant debate across the United States over “nature vs. nurture” when it comes to dog breeds. In other words, there is no true consensus on whether a dog’s life or their genetics contributes to violent behavior or lackthereof.
Regardless of which type of dog you are bitten by, you should contact our New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyers if you suffer a dog bite injury. Our lawyers represent individuals, in all New Jersey counties including dog bites in Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, and Mercer County.
What Happens to the Animal in a Dog Bite Case?
New Jersey Revised Statute §§ 4:19-22—4:19-32 provide procedures for dealing with dangerous dogs. After a bite, an animal control officer will typically evaluate whether the dog is a serious threat based on an unprovoked attack that causes injury. A court will evaluate the results of this investigation, and the court may order the owner to get a special license, keep the dog in a locked enclosure or on a muzzle, or put warnings signs up. If the attack was particularly vicious, unprovoked, and caused serious injury, the court may order that the dog be put down. The determination as to how to deal with a dangerous dog is based on the individual facts of the case and the results of the evaluation of that specific dog.
Need a Lawyer for NJ Dog Bite Claim
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a dog bite in New Jersey, contact our law firm today for help from an experienced dog bite attorney. Our lawyers are available to speak with you day or night and consultations are completely free of charge. Simply call our office in Monmouth County at 732-810-0336 or contact us online an attorney will be in touch with you as soon as possible.
Additional Information & Resources:
- Dog Bite Prevention, Centers for Disease Control (CDC)