WHO IS LIABLE WHEN A DOG BITE INJURY OCCURS?

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WHO IS LIABLE WHEN A DOG BITE INJURY OCCURS?

People in the Garden State love their dogs. There are 1.38 million dogs in New Jersey alone. If you live in New Jersey, you need to be aware of the dog bite laws that are in effect.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a dog bites someone in the United States, nearly 5 million times a year. That means a dog bites one out of every 69 people. Of those approximately 4.7 million dog bites that occur each year, 800,000 require medical care. New Jersey has specific dog bite laws. If you are attacked and bitten by a dog, you need to know what those laws are.

New Jersey Dog Bite Statutes

New Jersey has a “strict liability” law, making dog owners strictly liable in a civil lawsuit. This holds true if the dog bite occurred while the victim was on public property, or legally on private property. If the victim was bitten, the dog owner might have to pay damages for all injuries that occurred during the attack. It does not matter whether the owner knew or not, that the dog was ever vicious before.

According to NJ state law NJSA (4:19-16), when a person’s dog bites someone on public property, he or she is liable. The owner must pay for any damages or injuries that the person incurred. The victim can also be on private property, as long as he or she is there legally. This part of the law protects people who may come onto your property because you invited them. People can also come onto the property to perform a service. For example, pest control people or delivery people, are lawfully on your property to perform a specific service.

What Are Other Provisions of the Law?

In addition to the location where the bite occurred, the law has other provisions. First, authorities do not have to consider the dog vicious for the owner to be liable. A dog owner may have never seen or known of his or her dog biting or attacking anyone before. The dog may have bitten people without the owner’s knowledge. In the New Jersey courts, it doesn’t matter. Even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner is still liable for injuries from a dog bite.

Strict Liability

Like many states, New Jersey is a “strict liability” state regarding dog bites. This means the owner of the dog is at fault if his or her dog bites someone and causes injuries. It doesn’t matter how careful the dog owner was. If his or her dog bites someone, he or she is at fault.

Defenses to NJ Dog Bite Claims

The owner of a dog facing a civil lawsuit for a dog bite or other related injuries to a victim can have a couple of legal defenses such as:

Trespassing – If the person were trespassing on private property, New Jersey’s “strict liability” statute would not apply because the person was not on the property legally. This does not apply to someone carrying out a specific legal duty such as a mail carrier delivering the mail or someone who was invited to come onto the property.

Provocation – If the victim were to have provoked the dog the owner could prove that the victim caused the incident. For instance, if someone was pulling the dog’s tail, and the dog responded by biting that person, then provocation would be a viable defense.

What Should I Do?

If you or someone you know was recently a victim of a dog bite in New Jersey, then you need to act quickly. Get in touch with an NJ Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial Attorney today, and let us begin working on your case. We want to make sure you have the proper representation so you may receive appropriate compensation. Give our office a call at 973-539-5000 or fill out our online form. Our office is located in Parsippany, New Jersey

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