New Jersey’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Statute

In the state of New Jersey, as in most states, when a person is injured in an attack by a dog or other domestic animal, the concept of “strict liability” applies, rather than the traditional personal injury theory of negligence. In a lawsuit based on negligence, an injured party must show that the defendant had a duty to act in a certain way, failed to meet that standard, and caused injury as a result. Under New Jersey’s strict liability dog bite law, there is no need to show that the defendant failed to meet any specific standard.

Under the New Jersey statute, if you have been bitten, mauled or attacked by someone else’s dog, you can recover damages by showing:

  • Who the owner was
  • That you did not provoke the dog in any way
  • That you were in a public place at the time of the accident, or that you were legally on the dog owner’s property (not a trespasser)
  • Many states have adopted what is known as the “one bite” rule, which essentially allows dog owners to escape liability if they had no knowledge that the dog had bitten anyone or had aggressive tendencies. New Jersey has rejected this approach, finding that a dog owner will be legally responsible regardless of whether the dog has previously bitten someone or has displayed any violent behavior. In fact, a dog owner may be liable even to a trespasser, if the owner knows or has reason to know of prior vicious acts. Additionally, liability may extend beyond owners to others who had control of a dog, including dog sitters, landlord and business owners.

    Contact the Law Offices of Gregg A. Wisotsky

    I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online or call me at 973-241-7468. I will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.

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