Under New Jersey Statutory Law if someone is bitten by a dog, strict liability applies, provided the person bitten was lawfully on the premises, i.e. was not trespassing. The only issue to be decided by the Court is the amount of damages one should receive for his/her injuries. In other words, the victim does not share responsibility; rather the responsibility for the injuries sustained from the bite rests solely with the owner of the dog.
A dog bite can result in significant personal injury. With a bite being able to exert 200 PSI (pounds per square inch) it can cause serious damage; resulting in lost wages, permanent disfigurement and pain and suffering. It can turn one’s life upside down. Around three to six million animal bites occur on a yearly basis, and estimates state that 80-90 percent of them are from a dog. More than 800,000 dog bite victims seek medical treatment for resulting injuries. In many cases, people are burdened with medical bills and have trouble paying their own living expenses due to their inability to work because of the dog bite injuries.
Many times, dog bites are inflicted by dogs that are owned by friends and neighbors. In addition, dog bites routinely involve disfiguring and disabling injuries to children. A question that I am routinely asked is “If I sue my friend or neighbor will they be hurt financially?” My simple response to this question is “no,” provided there is insurance coverage. If the owner of the dog has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance which does not exclude dog bite coverage, then the insurance company would be responsible to cover the claim with no financial impact on the owner of the dog.
The insurance company is paid a premium to provide this coverage. If you have a claim and there is applicable coverage, the failure to make a claim simply means that the insurance company gets to keep that money rather than give it to you; the injured party. Moreover, if a claim is made and there is insurance coverage, there is absolutely no financial harm that will result to the owner of the dog assuming the claim is resolved within the applicable policy limit provided for under the insurance policy.
As in all areas of personal injury law, dog bites can become complicated matters requiring a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will facilitate the process to enable you to receive appropriate compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Edward C. Lutz for a free consultation.