Dog Bite Laws in New Jersey

For millions of Americans, the loyalty and companionship that comes from owning a dog simply cannot be rivaled. While owning dogs is one of life’s true pleasures for pet lovers, with this privilege comes the responsibility of ensuring that the animal instinct in them is curtailed to a safe enough degree. When dog bites occur that result in personal injury, the joys of dog ownership can suddenly be replaced by fears of litigation.

As any seasoned personal injury attorney can attest, cases involving dog bites in New Jersey are centrally focused on the liability of the owner. As with many things in life, many residents do not concern themselves with knowledge of their state’s dog bite laws until they are faced with the need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.

While consultation with a licensed legal professional is always the preferred course of action in dog bite cases, there is some general information regarding the law that all residents of New Jersey should know. The following is a primer on dog bite laws for New Jersey residents.

Understanding Strict Liability

When it comes to liability determination in New Jersey, the state rules and regulations function similarly to many other states. Liability determination in New Jersey dog bite cases follows a framework known as “strict liability” wherein the dog’s owner is liable for civil litigation as long as the dog bite victim was either on public property or legally on private property when the bite happened.

Some states structure their tiers of penalties for dog owners based on whether or not the dog was ever labeled as “vicious” in the eyes of the law. However, in New Jersey it does not matter whether or not the owner of the dog knew the dog had ever acted in a vicious manner prior to the incident.

Accidents vs. Negligence

New Jersey’s laws surrounding dog bites allows the court to consider the difference between accidents and negligence. There are certainly situations in which the dog owner cannot be reasonably held liable, such as a dog that accidentally knocks someone over or pulls a leash out of the owner’s hands. In these cases, the strict liability framework is not likely to apply.

However, in situations where the owner clearly acted in a negligent manner, victims are likely able to pursue compensation for personal injury and damages in civil court. Past history of aggressive behavior or failing to keep the dog on a leash on public property are examples of negligent behavior on the part of the dog owner.

When to Contact an Attorney

When individuals are bitten by a dog and they believe the incident was due to the owner’s negligence, they are likely going to want to pursue legal action. For decades, the attorneys at Ferrara & Gable have been helping victims of dog bites in New Jersey fight for their rights to fair compensation for damages. Contact Ferrara & Gable today for expert insight into your unique case.