Although many states allow a dog “one free bite,” New Jersey holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries due to dog bites in most circumstances. So, if your neighbor’s dog bites you, you are entitled to recover compensation for your losses, which can include:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and/or disability
- Emotional distress
A vicious attack from a large dog can inflict serious physical harm and emotional trauma that can haunt a victim for life. Fortunately, many dog owners, especially homeowners, have liability insurance to help pay damages. The victim of a dog attack can generally collect damages if the attack happened on public property or the victim had a legal right to be on the private property.
New Jersey’s dog bite statute only covers bites, not other injuries a dog might cause. If a large dog jumps up on you and knocks you down, inflicting an injury, you must sue for negligence. In that case, you must prove:
- The owner had a duty to control the dog.
- The owner was careless in controlling the dog.
- As a result of the carelessness, the dog injured you.
Generally, a dog owner has a duty to protect the public when the dog is on public property and anyone else’s private property, and when visitors are lawfully present on the dog owner’s property. The owner does not have a duty to protect trespassers. Carelessness in controlling the dog would include failing to observe leash laws or keeping the dog behind a fence the dog could easily jump without a proper restraint. However, it’s vitally important the owner’s carelessness caused the attack, and that the victim did nothing to provoke or antagonize the dog.
Dog bites, like other injury cases, are subject to New Jersey’s comparative negligence law, so a victim who behaves carelessly around the dog or provokes the dog could see his recovery reduced or eliminated entirely.
Dog bite cases are not always as straightforward as they seem, so it’s important to have experienced legal representation. Seigel Law is ready to assist dog attack victims in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free case evaluation.