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The Surprising Link Between Dog Bites and Premises Liability: What You Need to Know

By Greg Kohn

A landowner can get sued if someone gets hurt on their property due to the property owner’s negligence, but many people do not realize that this legal principle applies to dog bites as well as obvious hazards like conditions that can cause a slip-and-fall accident

In this piece, our New Jersey premises liability attorneys talk about the link between dog bites and premises liability so you might be better informed of your rights when injured by a dog attack.

New Jersey’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Statute

New Jersey does not have a one-bite rule, so a dog owner could be liable under the state law that holds them strictly liable for the harm their pets cause, even without having to prove the owner’s negligence. The strict liability statute, NJ Rev Stat § 4:19-16, says that the dog owner is liable for the damages the dog causes, “regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

The bite must take place in a public place or on the owner’s property, as long as the injured person was present on the property lawfully. Trespassers are not protected by the strict liability dog bite statute.

Two Legal Theories for Dog Bite Lawsuits

People might not know that there is more than one legal theory that could serve as grounds for a lawsuit. In addition to filing a personal injury claim under strict liability, a person injured by someone else’s dog could take action against the landowner for premises liability if the dog bite happened on the dog owner’s property. 

Premises liability usually requires establishing the negligence of the landowner as the cause of the injury. If the property owner did not take reasonable measures to protect the public from getting injured by their dog, the injured person could seek monetary damages for premises liability.

Damages for Dog Bite Injury Claims

Under either legal theory, the injured person could seek compensation from the dog owner for these categories of damages:

  • Medical expenses. The reasonable cost of the medical treatment you needed for your injuries is usually recoverable. These bills can include the ambulance, emergency room, doctors, surgery, prescription drugs, and other healthcare services and goods. Your expenses could also include treatment of complications, like infections. Dog bites are prone to infections.
  • Lost wages. If you missed paychecks while recuperating from your dog bite wounds, you can include this financial loss in your injury claim.
  • Pain and suffering. Dog attacks can be extraordinarily painful. The category of pain and suffering damages addresses the physical discomfort and emotional distress of the dog attack and injury.
  • Other intangible losses. People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a terrifying event like a dog attack. Also, dog bites can cause extensive scars in highly visible locations, like the face, hands, and arms, which can cause disfigurement.

The damages you could pursue in your dog bite injury case will depend on the specific facts of your situation. You can work with a New Jersey personal injury attorney on your case for money damages for a dog attack. We are happy to offer a free consultation. Reach out to our office today.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.