New Jersey Animal Attacks Lawyers discuss Dog Bites Negligence of Dog Owners and Handlers
Protecting Your Rights after a Dog Bites You-The Law in New Jersey
In New Jersey, owners and handlers of dogs are not given the latitude they are in many other states. Most jurisdictions abide by the “one free bite” rule, allowing owners and handlers to escape the harshest provisions of the law unless the dog shows a propensity to bite others. New Jersey does not have the “one free bite” rule. As a dog owner, you are strictly liable for any attack by your dog. In essence, this means that the victim does not need to show that you were negligent, or that you knew or should have known your dog might bite. The victim typically need only show that you owned the dog, and that the dog was not provoked.
There are a few others situations where a dog owner or handler may not be obligated to pay compensation to someone who was bit by their dog:
- There is no duty to compensate anyone who was trespassing at the time they were attacked.
- You will not be required to compensate someone if you were merely handling the dog, but did not own it. Note, though, that even if you cannot seek damages under a strict liability claim against a non-owner handling the dog, you may still be able to seek compensation on a legal theory of negligence.
New Jersey invokes the principal of comparative negligence when the victim of a dog bite injury contributed in any way to the attack. In these situations, the jury will be asked to determine the percentage of fault belonging to both parties (dog owner and bite victim).
Unfortunately, many of the injuries suffered in dog attacks are by children. In most instances, the acts of the child that instigated or contributed to the attack will only mitigate a potential recovery where it can be shown that the parents were grossly negligent in failing to monitor the acts of the child, or that they specifically instructed the child to do something that led directly to the attack.
Contact Our Office
At the office of Harold J. Gerr, Attorney at Law, we have fought for the rights of personal injury victims in central New Jersey for more than four decades. We carefully choose the cases we handle, so that we can provide the highest levels of service and personal attention to each client. We are also happy to take over your case, if your first lawyer does not seem to have your best interests in mind.