Dogs are our furry companions who provide us with unconditional love. They are still animals, though, and we must understand that even seemingly friendly dogs may feel threatened at times and lash out. If you are attacked by an animal, it is good to know where New Jersey law stands on dog bites.
The facts on dog bites
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, disfigurement, infection and emotional trauma. Sadly, they are a common occurrence. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4.5 million people each year are bitten by a dog. Dogs may bite when they are sick or feel threatened, but they can also bite when they are playing roughly or are engaged in other everyday activities. You might be bitten by a strange dog, but even dogs who are familiar with you can strike when you least expect it.
When are pet owners responsible for dog bites?
New Jersey law states that if a dog bites someone on private property, or in a lawfully public place, and that bite causes injuries then the dog’s owner is responsible for the dog’s actions. This means that the owner is generally legally liable for the damages incurred from the dog bite. This “strict liability” applies even if the dog never acted viciously in the past. Strict liability might also apply even if the owner exercised reasonable care to restrain the animal, protect others from the animal or warn others. Basically, if you are bitten by a dog in New Jersey, you do not need to show that the dog’s owner acted carelessly or negligently. You just need to show that the dog bit you and that the bite led to compensable damages.
Your rights following a dog bite
If you are attacked by an animal, you may have the right to pursue damages against the owner. Strict liability may seem relatively straightforward, but proving it can be more challenging than you may think. For this reason, it is important to make sure you understand your rights in a dog bite case so you can pursue the compensation you deserve.