File a Strong Dog Bite Claim in New Jersey With Reputable Lawyers
It is often said that a dog is a man’s best friend. We generally do not give much thought to keeping dogs as pets. Dog bites happen frequently, however, affecting millions of people every year across the United States. In addition to physical injuries, dog bites can be traumatic events for victims, causing severe emotional suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the United States, over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Greater than 800,000 dog bite victims receive medical attention and at least half of those bitten are children. Dog bites are a serious health risk. Pet owners have a duty to protect others from dangerous pets. If you have been bitten by a dog or other household pet, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or other damages related to the incident.
The following are options available if a dog bites you in New Jersey. You may obtain legal help from a New Jersey dog bite lawyer to pursue a legal action against the dog’s owner and receive compensation for injuries.
Dog Bite Laws in New Jersey
Every state has different laws related to pet ownership. Title 4 of New Jersey statutes, §§ 19 – 16 governs Agriculture and Domestic Animals. To paraphrase, New Jersey law states that if a dog bites:
- While the victim was in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s property
- The owner will be liable for damages suffered by the person bitten
- Liability applies to the owner regardless of whether the dog ever displayed viciousness or the owner knew of any history of viciousness.
A person is lawfully on private property of the owner when expressly or implicitly invited by the owner, or to perform some lawful duty, such as delivering the mail.
A shorthand term to describe the New Jersey statute is to say that it follows a rule of “strict liability.” Strict liability means that the plaintiff (typically the victim) does not need to prove that the defendant (typically the dog owner) was negligent or intended to cause harm. Experienced New Jersey Injury attorneys have in-depth knowledge about tort law and show to prove strict liability in a New Jersey dog bite case.
Many dog bite victims also suffer long term health conditions related to undiagnosed or mistreated infections, nerve damage, and other issues when healthcare professionals fail to provide a requisite standard of care for their injuries. Such medical malpractice cases can also be taken to court. If this has happened to you, you may seek compensation for damages related to malpractice apart from the dog bite case itself.
New Jersey Has a “Strict Liability” Law
Strict liability means that a dog owner is responsible for the injuries the dog has caused to another. An owner may be liable for the incident regardless of whether they tried to protect and warn others. In other words, the victim does not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent or responsible for the injuries.
All they have to prove is that the dog belonged to the owner and that the incident caused injury and other damages. It does not matter whether the owner was aware of a history of vicious behavior by the dog. Therefore, you may still have a viable claim even if you share responsibility or fault for the incident. An attorney can provide a better assessment of your options after reviewing the facts of your case.
Dog bite injuries can be devastating, causing soft tissue damage, musculoskeletal damage, nerve damage, scarring, and other significant issues depending on where the bite injuries occurred.
When Dog Owners Are Careless
There are certain situations where an individual may be entitled to damages even if the dog does not bite. For instance, when a dog chases an individual and some kind of injury or accident occurs as a result of the individual trying to escape. Strict liability may not apply in these situations because there may be intervening circumstances that remove or reduce the dog owner’s liability. Strict liability typically applies only when the injuries were caused by the animal’s bite.
A victim like the one described above may, however, successfully obtain compensation if they can prove that the injuries occurred because of the dog owner’s negligence. The victim may need to prove the following to succeed on a theory of negligence:
- The owner had the responsibility to take care and control of the dog’s behavior
- The dog owner did not take care and failed to meet their responsibility
- The dog owner’s irresponsible behavior and failure to take care of the dog resulted in the injuries
The dog’s past behavior and history of aggressive activities will play a crucial role in helping you get compensation based on a theory of negligence. The dog’s history will inform what duty the owner had or should have been aware of. Therefore, you should also consider factors of negligence when seeking compensation for a personal injury claim like a dog bite.
Deadlines for Filing Lawsuits in New Jersey
Every state has a deadline, called the Statute of Limitations. The New Jersey statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury. Therefore, you must file the lawsuit within two years or risk it being denied.
Consider consulting an experienced New Jersey dog bite lawyer to proceed with the claim as soon as possible. Having legal assistance can eliminate the hassle and reduce the chances of error.
New Jersey Laws for Dangerous Dogs
The state has different rules and regulations for controlling dangerous dogs. Dog Bite Statistics show that, every year many people face fatal and life altering injuries due to dog bites. In an unprovoked attack, an animal control officer will evaluate whether the dog is dangerous or not. If they determine the dog is dangerous, they may hold it until a hearing can be held to determine the dog’s fate.
After the hearing, a final decision will be made regarding what to do with the dog. If the dog is found to be dangerous, the officer may require the owner to meet certain conditions, such as:
- Obtain a special license.
- Place warning signs on the property to notify the public
- Keep the dog locked in an enclosure, safe from the public
When a dog owner fails to comply or follow the rules, they may be forced to pay penalties. The animal control officer and the court can even direct the animal to be destroyed. Euthanasia may be ordered if the dog has caused severe injuries to another individual or animal and is likely to do so again.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims
A dog owner may have the following legal defenses:
- Shared blame – There are situations where a victim may share some fault for the accident. For example, if the victim provoked the dog, they may share liability.
- Trespass – If the victim was not lawfully on the owner’s property, the owner may not be liable to the victim because the victim should not have been there in the first place.
In accordance with New Jersey’s comparative negligence law, a victim’s fault for a dog bite cannot be greater than the owner’s or else recovery of compensation will be barred. Therefore, recovery of damages may be permitted if each person is determined to be fifty percent at fault, but not if the victim is more at fault than the owner.
Claims and Compensation
Dog bites can lead to painful and expensive injuries. Whether minor scrapes and soft tissue injury or serious nerve damage and permanent scarring, a victim can recover several types of compensation related to a dog bite.
Even if there is only a small bite or minor injury, you should seek immediate medical attention. Small bites could lead to severe complications and infections. Seeking immediate treatment after you have sustained injuries not only prevents further health complications, but establishes a record of the injury. You may want to speak with the dog’s owner to ask about the dog’s vaccination record.
Consult an Experienced Legal Professional With Expertise in Dog Bite Cases!
Consult a dog bite attorney New Jersey residents turn to for all their personal injury needs and to learn more about your legal options. Our team will stand by your side throughout the legal process. You can recover compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
The lawyers at The Law Offices of Samuel Fishman will assist you at each step and help you to collect relevant evidence. Contact (215) 464-4600 for a FREE consultation.