Dog Bite Attorneys in New Jersey
Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Represent NJ Dog Bite Victims
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 4 million dog bites occur in the Unites States annually. Unfortunately, a majority of bite victims are children, who often suffer painful injuries to the face. New Jersey is one of a handful of states that take dog attacks very seriously. New Jersey does not allow dogs “one free bite” and thus holds dog owners strictly liable for the bites of their animal, unless the animal was provoked.
New Jersey Dog Bite Law
Because dogs do not get “one free bite” in New Jersey, a dog’s prior behavior is irrelevant in determining whether the dog’s owner was negligent in handling the animal and protecting the public from it. With few exceptions, if a dog bites a person in New Jersey, the dog’s owner can be held liable for damages resulting from the bite.
Additionally, New Jersey’s “vicious dog” law provides that a court shall determine whether a dog that has attacked a person is vicious. If a dog is deemed to be vicious, it will be euthanized.
Defenses and Comparative Negligence in NJ Dog Bite Cases
A few situations exist where the dog owner will not usually be obligated to pay damages to the bite victim. These situations include when:
- The victim is a trespasser on the dog owner’s property
- The victim’s injuries are not caused by a bite
- The person who the victim is suing is not the dog’s owner
There is a possibility that a victim not covered under the New Jersey strict liability statute can recover under a claim for negligence.
Special treatment is given to situations in which the victim bears some blame for the bite. In these cases, the victim can only recover damages from the owner if his fault was less than the fault of the owner. Damages will then be assigned based on the percentage of fault belonging to both the victim and the dog owner. This type of situation will be evaluated upon the totality of the circumstances surrounding the bite.
Liability of Children and Parents in New Jersey Dog Bite Cases
Parents of children can be held liable for their children’s negligent behavior that contributed to the bite in some circumstances. Usually parents will only be held liable for the behavior of small children if the parents’ failure to supervise their child was extreme or if they instructed the child to perform the behavior that lead to the bite. It is generally very difficult to hold a child under the age of seven liable for his own negligence, though older children may be held liable for their behavior.
Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Dog Bite in New Jersey
New Jersey has some of the most stringent dog bite laws in the nation. However, victims must protect their rights in order to recover damages under those laws. If evidence is not properly documented or if a complaint against the dog’s owner is not filed in a timely manner, victims can lose their ability to obtain a judgment in their favor. Victims should consider the need to do the following in order to protect their rights following a dog bite:
- Identify the dog and its owner
- Obtain the contact information of any potential witnesses as well as the contact and insurance information of the dog owner
- Seek necessary medical care and insist that wounds and bruises be properly documented
- Seek legal counsel as soon as possible in order to file a timely claim and obtain necessary evidence
- Do not sign any documents provided by the dog owner, landowner of property upon which the attack took place or an insurance agent without the advice of legal counsel
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer for Further Reference About NJ Dog Bite Laws
It can be challenging to advocate on your own behalf when recovering from a bite injury. If you or someone you care about has been bitten by a dog, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The dog bite lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC can help you explore your legal options. 908-322-7000.