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New Jersey Dog Bite Attorneys
Dog bite injuries can be serious and cause long-term physical and emotional damage. The New Jersey personal injury lawyers at The Reinartz Law Firm are dedicated to helping people who have suffered dog bite injuries. Our team of lawyers aggressively pursues compensation for all damages caused by dog bite injuries.
Four and a half million people are bitten by dogs every year. The injuries caused by these attacks are often serious. In New Jersey, a dog owner is responsible for their dog’s actions, even if the animal has never demonstrated vicious behavior before. This concept is referred to as “strict liability.” Additionally, if a dog bites you or your child while the animal is in the care of another party, such as a dog walker, the animal’s caretaker may be responsible for the dog’s actions.
Dog bite claims may be prohibited when the person who was bitten was trespassing at the time of the attack, attempting to commit a criminal act, or otherwise provoked the animal or assumed the risk of being bitten.
New Jersey has been ranked 10th in the country when it comes to dog bite claims. In one year alone, it was estimated the total number of dog bite claims in NJ was 3,500. In fact, in New Jersey, being bitten by a dog has become so prevalent that two out of every five people have suffered a dog bite at some point in their life.
Not all dog bites result in serious injury. However, in those cases where someone is seriously injured, it makes sense to contact an experienced New Jersey dog bite lawyer to learn your rights and options.
Dog Bite Statistics
The CDC reports roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S. and 800,000 of those bites require medical care. With just over 330 million people in the United States that translates to 1 dog bite in every 73 people.
Based on a study by Canine Journal there are an estimated 80 million dogs in the U.S. In 2016 alone there were over 4.5 million dog bites that occured and nearly 20% of those attacks resulted in injury causing nearly a billion dollars in insurance claims for dog bite related injuries.
When a Dog Owner is Liable For Damages
New Jersey has a “strict liability” law that states owners are liable when a dog bites someone on public property or on private property legally when the incident occurred regardless if the owner knew the dog may be aggressive. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 4:19-16).
When a victim is bitten, the dog owner may be forced to pay for all damages due to injury. This includes injuries other than a direct bite from an animal. (Gross v. Dunham, 221 A.2d 555 (N.J. App. 1966).
Injuries Due to Negligence
Injuries can also occur due to the negligence of dog owners such as knocking someone over or chasing a person or vehicle and causing an accident. In these cases, the strict liability laws may not apply. It is still possible to prove that the injuries occurred due to the dog owner’s negligence. In order to prove negligence, the injured party must prove that the dog owner failed to meet the duty of reasonable care to control the animal.
The history of a dog’s behavior may also play a role in determining fault. For example, if a dog has a history of chasing or attacking people, then simply leashing the animal in public places may not be a complete defense.
Dangerous Dog Laws in New Jersey
In New Jersey, there is a civil procedure for controlling a dangerous animal. (N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 4:19-22—4:19-32). Typically, this process begins when an animal control officer believes a dog poses a serious threat to persons or animals. If the dog is impounded, the animal control officer will notify the court and the owner. The court will then decide in a hearing whether the dog is potentially dangerous. If the dog is found to be dangerous, the dog owner may be forced to place warning signs on their property, require the dog to be muzzled in public or keep the dog in a locked enclosure. There may also be fines imposed on the owner.
If the dog is found to be vicious after a serious unprovoked injury, the court may order the animal to be destroyed.
Possible Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim
“Strict Liability” does not apply if the person injured was not legally on private property or if they were trespassing.
A dog owner may argue that the person injured is partially responsible for an injury. For example, if the dog was provoked prior to the attack, part of the blame could lie with the injured party. In New Jersey, a “comparative negligence” rule exists in which the fault of all parties involved in an accident is weighed by the jury. If a victim is found to be more at fault than the dog owner, the plaintiff may not be eligible for compensation. If there is shared blame, an award of compensation may be diminished by the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff.
The Reinartz Law Firm is a top rated New Jersey personal injury law firm. Don’t let an insurance company pressure you into accepting a quick and low settlement for your injuries. The insurance companies don’t always have your best interests in mind when resolving a claim. Our reputation for aggressive representation and the pursuit of maximum compensation for clients’ damages is well-deserved. When you have been wrongfully injured in a dog attack, we are on your side, fighting for a just and fair settlement or verdict. Our attorneys have the experience you need to go up against the insurance companies, and will vigorously advocate for you all the way through the litigation process.
Contact The Reinartz Law Firm
If you or someone you know has been attacked by a dog, you should immediately seek medical attention and contact the local authorities to document the incident. After you have taken care of your medical needs, contact our office to evaluate your claim. Use our contact form or call (201) 448-9838 to schedule a free consultation and learn how The Reinartz Law Firm can help.
A: Many states have leash laws requiring dog owners to leash their dogs unless the animal is inside or within a fenced yard. Failure to comply with local leash laws may significantly increase the liability of the dog owner.
A: Damages in a dog bite claim can vary widely. Plaintiffs can pursue compensation for damages including medical bills, wage loss, pain, suffering, disability, impairment and loss of enjoyment of life, among others.