Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite?
Although many states have “one bite” laws allowing a dog owner to escape liability for a first-time bite, New Jersey holds dog owners liable for all dog bites inflicted by their dog. The applicable statute is N.J.S.A. § 4:19-16.
Unlike other states, victims suffering injury from a dog bite need not prove that the owner of the dog was negligent. However, the victim must prove that the defendant is the owner of the dog that caused the injury, show evidence that the bite actually occurred, and show that he or she was in a “public place” or lawfully on the dog owner’s property.
Trespassing may be one defense for a dog owner whose dog has injured someone. If a dog bite victim was not an invited guest in a public space, or otherwise legally allowed on the land, the owner may not be liable for injuries inflicted by the dog.
Some examples of those who have legal rights to be on another’s land are:
- Mail carriers
- Service people
- Utility workers
- Meter readers
- Delivery services
- Social guests
In addition to trespassing, dog owners may not be responsible if the victim provoked the dog or knew that the dog would be more inclined to bite in a given situation. In New Jersey, if the victim is found more than 50 percent to blame for the incident, he or she will not be able to collect compensation for their injuries. For victims who are found to be less than 50 percent at fault, damages will be reduced by that specific percentage. For example, if a plaintiff (victim) was found to be 30 percent responsible for their own injuries, they could only collect 70 percent of the total damages from the defendant (dog owner).
Preventing Dog Bites
Dog bites and attacks can occur almost anywhere, and it is a fallacy to believe that only vicious dogs can cause harm. Even large, friendly dogs can accidently knock people down or jump up, causing serious injuries.
Statistics show that most dog bites occur from dogs that we know and love. Children are often victims of these type of attacks.
Taking precautions before purchasing, during training, and around unfamiliar dogs can help protect family members from both unintentional bites and vicious dog attacks:
- Train and socialize dogs properly
- Do not encourage the dog to play aggressively
- Do not allow young children to play with the dog unsupervised
- Spay or neuter to reduce aggressive tendencies
- Ask before petting someone else’s dog
- Remain motionless when approached by an unknown dog
Cherry Hill Dog Bite Lawyers at Williams Cedar Provide Qualified Representation for Dog Bite Claims
If you or a loved one suffered injuries from another’s dog, a Cherry Hill dog bite lawyer at Williams Cedar is ready to answer your questions and offer you the guidance necessary for your next steps. For a free consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at our Philadelphia location at 215-557-0099 or our Haddonfield, New Jersey location at 856-470-9777. We represent clients in Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, South Jersey, and nationwide.