Beyond the obvious needs a dog owner must attend to, dog owners are also responsible for their dog’s actions. When a dog is involved in a violent attack, the owner may be held accountable. Dog bite laws in some states take into account an animal’s past behavior and even breed. New Jersey, however, has a “strict liability statute.” What this means is the owner will be held liable irrespective of the animal’s past record. It doesn’t matter if the pet has a perfectly clean record. If the dog bites someone, the owner will be found liable for that attack. There are very few exceptions.
New Jersey Statues, section 4:19-16 covers the liability of the owner regardless of the prior viciousness of dog. In other words, all a plaintiff has to do is prove who owns the dog, that the dog bit the plaintiff and that the plaintiff was either in a public place or legally present on privately owned property.
Despite the strict liability statute, the dog owner may not always be held 100 percent responsible. For example, if the plaintiff is found 50 percent at fault for the attack because of negligence, he or she may only receive 50 percent of the compensation they seek. Having proper legal representation is imperative to the success of your New Jersey dog bite claim primarily because of the complexity of these laws.
Another example of a situation where a dog owner may not be found at fault is trespassing. If the victim is illegally trespassing with the intent to commit criminal activity, then the dog owner will not be found liable for the attack. In cases involving professional dog walkers, a percentage of the liability may fall on the dog walker and on the owner.
If you or a loved one is involved in a New Jersey dog attack, please remember that a personal injury claim must be filed before the statute of limitations runs out. The Princeton dog attack injury lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein have a long history of protecting the rights of dog bite victims. Call us at (609) 240-0040 today for a free consultation of your dog bite claim.