Many Americans do not consider their families complete without the inclusion of a family pet.  While cats are a popular choice, many American families go with “man’s best friend” – a dog – as their animal companion. While a dog certainly interacts better with the family than a goldfish or canary, they also present some risks regarding injuring others who may enter your property. Let’s look at the potential dangers presented by family pets and discuss who is liable for dog bite injuries.  

Dog Bite Injuries

Dogs have been around for almost as long as man himself and have probably been biting us for just as long. Dog bite injuries are no laughing matter and can be severe. While many animal bites are minor, serious injuries can result. In addition to the wounds and pain associated with them, dog bites present the added risk of infection or exposure to rabies, which could be deadly to the victim if left untreated. Even a minor dog bite can leave the victim with residual scarring. So, if your dog bites someone, who is liable for dog bite injuries? Well, the short answer, if you live in New Jersey, is “you.”

Dog Bite Injury Claims

Laws regarding dog bite injury claims vary from state to state. Many states used to follow the “one bite rule”. Those laws stated that the dog owner was not responsible for the dog’s actions until the dog was shown to be a risk of biting someone. It was allowed one free bite before it was classified as a biting risk. Very few states still follow that rule today. 

The State of New Jersey follows what is known as “strict liability” when it comes to animal bites. Current New Jersey law, as stated in New Jersey Statute 4:19-16 reads:  

“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.” 

Dog Bite Injury Treatment

When bitten by a dog or any other animal, the victim should immediately seek medical treatment. The faster the wound is tended to by a medical professional, the lower the risk of infection. Early wound care will also lessen the chance of long-term scarring. In addition, dog bite injury treatment can include a professional assessment of the victim’s risk of contracting rabies and allow for rabies testing and treatment if needed. 

Dog Bite Injury Settlements in New Jersey

The laws regarding dog bites are complex. While the owner of the dog is considered liable for the dog bite, a person provoking an animal or trespassing in a “beware of dog” area may mitigate the owner’s liability. If you have suffered injuries due to an animal bite, get the assistance you need to get the maximum value from your claim. The New Jersey personal injury law experts at the Law Offices of James C. DeZao are experts in dog bite litigation. We can answer your questions and assist you through the entire legal process. Our goal is to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation at (973) 358-6134.