New Jersey Dog Bite Laws
N.J.S.A. 4:19-16 makes a dog owner liable if his or her dog bites another individual who is on public property or lawfully on private property, regardless of whether the animal had prior vicious tendences, the owner’s knowledge thereof, or the precautions the owner took to prevent such an incident. The owner may have to pay damages such as past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and economic losses including lost wages. Ideally, a dog owner has a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy that provides coverage for liability arising from dog bites.
Cases become more complicated when an individual is injured by a dog but NOT as a result of a bite, for example, in a knock-down case. Under such circumstances, strict liability does not apply and the injured party must demonstrate that the owner was negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care.
What Should I Do If I Was Bit by a Dog?
If you were bit by a dog, you should seek medical help immediately. Puncture wounds from dog bites can be difficult to treat and can cause serious infections.
You or a trusted friend or family member should obtain as much information as possible about the incident, including the names and contact information for the dog’s owner and any potential witnesses. You should also take photographs of your injuries. You should also contact the local police department so they can report the incident to your municipality’s animal control board.
Dog Bite Defenses
An owner whose dog bit someone may have viable legal defenses, such as:
- If the victim trespassed, the NJ strict liability statute will not apply. This does not apply to a mail carrier or a lawful invitee.
- If the victim provoked the dog, compensation may be reduced or eliminated altogether under New Jersey’s comparative negligence rule.
Speak With a Lawyer Today
If you have been the victim of a dog bite or other dog-related injury, or you are the owner of a dog that injured someone, please contact our New Brunswick, NJ office today. Craig Rothenberg is an experienced personal injury and litigation attorney who will pursue a just result on your behalf.