Dog Bites Can Result in Serious and Long-Lasting Harm

Most of us see dogs as lovable, friendly companions who would never hurt anyone without provocation. But that perception doesn’t always hold true. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., with nearly 1 million of the victims requiring medical care. New Jersey has the ninth highest number of dog bite incidents in the country, according to State Farm Insurance.

Dog bites can leave victims with permanent scarring, nerve damage, disfigurement and physical disabilities. They can also cause serious mental and emotional trauma, with victims sometimes suffering from PTSD, panic attacks and other psychological harm. As a result, the victim (or the parents of a child victim) often need to pursue financial compensation to pay for medical bills and various treatments.

In New Jersey, we have a victim-friendly dog bite law. A dog owner is held to strict liability, which means they must pay for the harm their dog causes, even if the dog had never exhibited biting behavior in the past and even if they were unaware of the dog’s potential viciousness. Some other states follow the “one bite rule,” which does not impose liability on dog owners if this was the first time the dog bit someone. But in New Jersey, a victim is entitled to seek compensation for injuries sustained in the dog’s only biting incident.

There are a few exceptions to New Jersey’s rule. An owner will not be held strictly liable for the dog bite in any of the following circumstances:

  • The victim was trespassing.
  • The injury wasn’t caused directly by the dog bite; for example, if the victim was running away from a dog and fell while escaping.
  • The victim was attacked while the dog was in the care of a dog walker, trainer, veterinarian or other third-party.

If these exceptions apply, a victim may still be able to file recover damages based on the owner’s negligence in not keeping the dog properly restrained. In a negligence case, the amount of compensation that can be recovered would be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault.

If you or a family member have suffered injuries in a dog bite incident in New Jersey, the experienced lawyers at Seigel Law in Ridgewood can provide valuable assistance with your claim for financial compensation. Call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.

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