Nagel Rice LLP is an accomplished personal injury law firm that has successfully handled many dog bite cases in New Jersey during the past 35 years. Our track record of winning damages and justice for clients throughout the state is outstanding and we pride ourselves on being compassionate as well as effective. Over our decades of experience, we have won millions of dollars for our clients by filing personal injury lawsuits. If you or a member of your family has suffered a dog bite, contacting us will put you on the path to winning the compensation you deserve.
Millions of Americans, half of them children, are victims of dog bites every year, some of them suffering serious injuries or even wrongful death. While the vast majority are affectionate and non-aggressive, a small percentage of dogs are vicious. There are also occasions when even normally gentle dogs will attack, such as if they feel endangered, or that their owner, property, or puppies are being threatened.
The reason disproportionate numbers of children are bitten is that children often don’t understand when it is unacceptable to reach out to a dog or which of their own actions (such as teasing or banging) may be perceived as a threat by the animal. Also, some children are unaware of the signals that dogs give to warn them off, such as growling, curling their tails down, or baring their teeth.
Dog Bite Laws in New Jersey
Like most states, New Jersey has a “strict liability” law. This law makes a dog’s owner liable in a civil lawsuit when the animal bites someone who is either  on public property or  legally on private property when the incident occurs. The liability is “strict” because it doesn’t require that the dog has shown any previous evidence of aggression. It is important to note that the owner may have to pay damages even if you were injured by being jumped on or chased rather than bitten.
To prove that you have a legal right to restitution, Nagel Rice’s experienced dog bite attorneys know exactly how to prove that:
- The owner had a duty to take reasonable care to control the dog’s behavior
- The owner breached that duty
- As a result of that breach, you were injured
- The injury caused you serious harm
Different Expectations for Different Dogs
Though the court may agree that damages must be paid by owners of dogs that haven’t been vicious in the past, a dog’s history of difficult behavior may alter the results of a negligence claim. For example, while most dog owners are required to keep their dog leashed in public locations, if the dog has shown aggressive tendencies the owner may have been warned to muzzle the dog or keep it confined, even on its own property.
Depending on the court’s assessment of the dog’s volatility, the owner may be required to get a special license, have warning signs on his or her property, restrict the dog to a locked enclosure, or walk the dog when it is muzzled and on a strong leash. If the owner of the dog that bit you has been required to adhere to any of these restrictions but failed to do so, she/he will have to pay a fine of up to $1,000 a day, in addition to paying you damages. If a dog has attacked without provocation and caused severe injury or death, the court may determine that the dog must be euthanized.
Comparative Negligence in Cases of Dog Bites
While New Jersey courts tend to be sympathetic to children who are trespassing while bitten since they may not yet understand the concept of “private property,” if a child deliberately teases or hits a dog, the child may be considered partially to blame for his/her own injury. The same may be true for an adult who is cruel or threatening to a dog, whether he/she is bitten on public or private property.
New Jersey courts have ruled that comparative negligence laws are applicable in cases of dog bites, meaning that if you are found to be over 50 percent at fault for the injury, you won’t receive any compensation. If, however, the court determines that you bear 50 percent or less responsibility for your injury, damages can be awarded, but will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In other words, if the court decides that your provocation makes you 20 percent to blame for the dog bite, and the court awards $100,000 in damages, you will receive $80,000 in compensation.
Damages Nagel Rice Dog Bite Attorneys Can Obtain for You
Serious dog bite injuries can cause prolonged impairment, disfiguring scars, nerve, bone, or organ damage, and severe emotional trauma. They are life-altering, often making it impossible for victims to continue working or even going about their normal household routine. At Nagel Rice, our sharp lawyers will fight vigorously to make sure you receive every dollar of economic and non-economic damages you’re entitled to for:
- Medical and rehabilitative costs
- Lost wages, present and future
- Nursing care for permanent disability
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral expenses and loss of support and guidance (in cases of wrongful death)
In rare cases in which the dog owner instigated the dog’s attack on you or intentionally bred the dog to be vicious, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well.
Cases Involving “Assumption-of-Risk”
You are probably aware that if you work as a veterinarian, dog groomer, dog walker, or assistant in an animal shelter, the law considers you to have “assumed risk” by engaging in such an occupation. Nevertheless, our dog bite attorneys may be able to win you damages if we can prove that the dog’s owner neglected to notify you or your place of employment of the dog’s history of vicious behavior.
Contact Nagel Rice Promptly To Ensure That Justice Is Done
You can trust our capable dog bite attorneys to do everything possible to prove you deserve substantial compensation for all that you have suffered. We will gather and closely examine medical data and police records of previous complaints. We will also interview witnesses of the incident as well as experts in dog behavior. As a team of skilled negotiators and powerful litigators, we will always put your interests first and do whatever it takes to win your case.