Dog bites injure thousands of Americans every year and can cause serious damage or even death. New Jersey is among the majority of American states that makes a dog owner legally liable for all of the damages inflicted upon a dog bite victim, even if the dog had never previously exhibited the propensity to bite humans. This liability results from New Jersey Statutes, section 4:19-16, which reads as follows:
4:19-16. Liability of owner regardless of viciousness of dog
The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
For the purpose of this section, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.
Dangers Associated with Dog Bites
If the dog has not received proper medical treatment or has a disease such as rabies, the dog attack victim may also be susceptible to these diseases. Some dog attacks can be severe enough to warrant reconstructive surgery or physical rehabilitation for its victims. In addition to medical treatment for injuries sustained, victims from dog bites can also suffer from emotional problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a lifelong fear of dogs.
Negligence-Based Dog Bite Claims in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a person bitten by a dog can sue under the state’s dog bite law for damages. If a person is injured by other types of dog behavior, however, the statute does not apply. Instead, the injured person must seek damages through a negligence claim.
In a negligence claim, the injured person must prove that:
- the owner had a duty to take reasonable care to control the dog’s behavior
- the owner failed to meet that duty, and
- as a result of that failure, the dog caused harm to the injured person
Criminal Liability for New Jersey Dog Bite Claims
An owner of a dangerous dog in New Jersey can face criminal penalties if he doesn’t observe the state’s laws for keeping a dangerous dog. The owner is responsible for notifying local authorities about the dog’s dangerous past, and taking steps to keep the dog restrained.
Criminal cases differ from civil dog bite lawsuits in two important ways. First, a criminal charge is brought by the state or local prosecutor’s office, while a civil lawsuit is filed by the injured person directly. Second, in a criminal case, penalties may include imprisonment, fines, or other requirements, while in a civil case, liability is addressed solely through money damages. The owner of a dangerous dog who violates the state’s dangerous dog rules, and whose dog injures someone as a result, may face both criminal and civil claims liability.
A Team of Personal Injury Lawyers on Your Side
If you are in the New York or New Jersey area and have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, you are entitled to a fair settlement for your damages. Call the Ellis Law Firm today at 888-355-4752, and we will get you in touch with one of our specialists who knows all about the New Jersey dog bite laws, and how much you’re entitled to for your injuries.