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Legal Actions for Dog Bites

The law with respect to Dog bites is an exception to normal “negligence law.” To prove a negligence case it is necessary to show that a defendant breached a “standard of care” or “duty”- that is, a defendant failed to stop for a red light or failed to maintain property which caused an injury etc.

However with respect to dog bites, New Jersey law imposes strict liability upon an owner whose dog bites another, without proof of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities. The “dog bite” statute states:

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.

Experienced Dog Bite Attorney
Experienced dog bite attorney

Thus, “the three elements plaintiff must prove under New Jersey Law are that: (1) defendant is the owner of the dog; (2) the dog bit plaintiff; and (3) the bite occurred while the plaintiff was either in a public place or lawfully in a private place.”

In other words, the necessity of proving that the Owner breached some duty or “standard of care” in either knowing a dog’s vicious tendencies or allowing the dog to be near others is unnecessary. The mere fact that the dog bite occurred is enough to satisfy the “Strict Liability” requirements of New Jersey Law. The law in other states is not quite so liberal as New Jersey Law and still requires proof of the vicious tendencies of an offending canine. My recent clients include delivery people, friends of an owner paying a social visit and postal carriers. While medical bills are often paid through worker’s compensation for those being bitten while working there is often a pain and suffering element and a permanent scarring issue which warrants a lawsuit or claim against the owner. Often these cases are settled via homeowner’s coverage since the law is so specific about the strict liability of the dog owner. For further inquiry please call the Law Offices of Mitchell H. Portnoi, 908-228-8800 in Mountainside, New Jersey.

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