man being bandaged by doctor after dog bite attack

Dog Bites: Protecting Your Rights

By Bruce Nagel

Dog bites happen more frequently than many people realize, and the wounds can cause severe impairment for the dog bite victim. Getting attacked by a dog or pack of dogs can cause fatal injuries. New Jersey’s dog bite statute holds dog owners strictly liable for the harm their dogs cause, even if the owner claims they did not know the dog was aggressive.

Because of the large dollar amounts at stake, you can expect the liability insurance company of the dog owner to mount a strong defense against your claim. You do not have to take on the billion-dollar insurance company by yourself. A New Jersey dog bites injury attorney can help you pursue a claim for compensation for your dog bites and protect your rights.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites

Usually, you have to prove that the person you sue for your losses in a personal injury case caused your injuries through negligence, but that is not the case with strict liability. In cases that involve strict liability, like dog bites in New Jersey, all that you have to prove is that the defendant owned the dog and that the dog harmed you.

New Jersey’s dog bite statute makes the owner responsible for the injuries their dog causes, not limited to dog bites. If a dog attacks you or harms you from an action like jumping on you or knocking you down, you can seek compensation under the law.

Defenses to Strict Liability Under New Jersey’s Dog Bite Law

New Jersey law does not let you seek monetary damages if you provoked the dog before it attacked or bit you. An animal has a right to defend itself. 

Also, people are allowed to own dogs to guard their property, whether it be their home or workplace. If a dog injured you when you were trespassing on someone else’s property, the dog owner is unlikely to be liable for your wounds.

Recoverable Damages in Dog Bite Cases

After establishing the dog owner’s liability, a person injured by a dog in New Jersey can seek to recover their losses from the incident. The types of monetary damages can include:

  • Medical bills. This category can include the ambulance, emergency room, doctors, hospital, skin grafts, plastic surgery to restore function and minimize disfigurement, blood transfusions, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and rehabilitation services.
  • Lost wages. If you could not work while recuperating from the dog attack and your medical treatment, and you did not receive your usual amount of income as a result, you can add the lost earnings to your dog bite injury claim against the owner.
  • Pain and suffering. Dog bite wounds can be intensely painful. The injuries can also cause the victim to experience emotional distress and inconvenience.
  • Intangible losses. Other types of intangible losses can include disfigurement, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These are but a few examples of the kinds of monetary damages you could pursue after an unprovoked dog attack. If your close relative died because of injuries inflicted by a dog, we could seek additional compensation for your family. You can contact our office today for a free initial consultation.

About the Author
Bruce H. Nagel is widely recognized as one of the premier trial attorneys in the country. His firm has been included in the National Law Journal’s list of America’s Top 50 Elite Trial Lawyers. He specializes in complex litigation including serious personal injury, class actions, medical malpractice, birth injuries, transportation accidents, and business disputes and has obtained over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for his clients. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact Bruce here.