Can I Get Compensated for a Dog Bite Injury in NJ?
5 Common Questions About Dog Bite Injuries in NJ
While often considered man’s best friend, dogs can and do attack individuals causing them serious injuries. If you’ve been bitten by a dog in New Jersey and suffered an injury, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. When owners refuse to accept responsibility for injuries their dog causes another, a lawsuit may be necessary to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.
If you have been injured in a dog attack, it is important to consult with experienced attorneys such as those at FSKS to help you navigate the aftermath and put yourself in the best position to receive any compensation to which you are entitled.
1. How Common Are Dog Bite Injuries?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people within the United States are bitten by a dog every year. Approximately 20% of those individuals will require medical attention for their injuries.
2. Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
In New Jersey, according to a law that is sometimes referred to as the “Dog Bite Statute,” a dog’s owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog biting another individual. This means, in most circumstances, that even if the owner was acting responsibly and reasonably at the time of the attack, and even if the dog has no known history of biting, the owner is still liable for any personal injuries caused by their dog.
In addition to the Dog Bite Statute, New Jersey courts also recognize ordinary and gross negligence claims against dog owners for injuries caused by dog bites. However, unlike strict liability under the Dog Bite Statute, claims based on negligence require a showing that either (a) the owner knew that the dog was aggressive, or (b) the dog displayed warning signs that it would attack, and the owner failed to restrain the dog or take other appropriate action.
3. If Dog Owners are Strictly Liable, are there any Defenses?
If the dog attack victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the attack, then the owner is not held responsible for the injuries because the Dog Bite Statute only holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries that occur on private property when the injured person was lawfully on that private property. Additionally, if the injured party’s own negligence contributed to the dog attack, that can reduce or even eliminate the amount a dog owner might be obligated to pay for the injuries caused by the dog bite. For instance, if an injured party’s unreasonable conduct incited an otherwise calm dog to bite them, a jury could find the injured party is entitled to less or no compensation for their injuries.
4. When Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
As for most civil claims in New Jersey, the time within which a lawsuit has to be filed for personal injuries caused by a dog bite is governed by a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations governs the time in which legal proceedings must be initiated. For personal injuries resulting from a dog bite, injured parties have only two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is not filed within those two years, it may be impossible for the dog bite victim to receive any compensation.
5. To What Kind of Compensation am I entitled?
New Jersey courts routinely award both economic and non-economic damages associated with dog bite injuries. When people think of economic damages, they often think about items like medical bills, lost wages, and costs associated with rehabilitative therapy. However, economic damages may also include expenses for cosmetic surgery to repair the disfigurement that results from some dog bites.
Non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, damage to a spousal relationship (referred to as “loss of consortium”), and other damages that the average person commonly understands but cannot be calculated as simply as looking at a receipt or an invoice.
FSKS is on Your Side
If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite injury in NJ, you should immediately contact FSKS at 973-538-4700. Our Personal Injury & Litigation Practice attorneys have experience handling dog attack cases in NJ and are readily available to help you navigate the process and get the compensation you deserve.