If a dog bites you in New Jersey, state law entitles you to pursue compensation against the offending dog’s owner. Though you may be unable to fathom filing a dog bite claim against a person because of his or her pet’s behavior, the fact of the matter is that dog bites can be serious. If not treated right away, or if the attacking dog was sick, a dog bite can lead to infection and eventually death. Dog bites can damage soft tissue, cause nerve damage, result in broken bones, lead to scarring, and more. Aside from the injuries themselves, dog bites can result in extensive medical bills, lost wages and emotional damages. The bottom line is that dog bites have the potential to upend your life. If an attack has had several adverse consequences on your life, consult with a New Jersey dog bite attorney to gain a better understanding of your rights under the law. A personal injury lawyer can also help you explore your options for recovery and inform you of what you need to do to secure the maximum amount of compensation.
Dog Bite Statistics
Dog bites are much more common than most people think. According to the data, 4.5 million Americans are the victims of dog attacks each year. Approximately half of dog bite victims are children. Nearly 6,000 victims are postal workers, with three New York City locations — two neighborhoods and one borough — being among the top hot spots for attacks on postal workers and delivery people. Each year, approximately 4,000 dogs attack in New York City alone.
Given these statistics, it is not improbable to think that you will become a dog bite victim at one point or another during your residency in New York. When a dog does bite, it will be helpful to understand New York’s dog bite laws and your options for recovery.
Dog Bite Laws
Following a dog attack, state laws inform your ability to recover compensation and what type of damages you may receive. For instance, in states that abide by a “strict liability” rule, you would be able to recover compensation for a dog bite incident regardless of whether the owner was negligent of the dog’s “dangerous animal” status. In states with one-bite laws, however, you would only be able to recover compensation if the offending dog has a history of aggression and a known history of acting on dangerous or vicious propensities. New York is unique in that it takes a mixed stance.
Strict Liability vs. Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
In New York, the courts hold dog owners strictly liable for any medical expenses that result from dog bite wounds. What this means is that, in New York, you do not have to demonstrate that the offending dog’s owner was somehow negligent to be able to recover compensation for your medical bills. Rather, you simply need to prove that the dog bit you.
However, if you want to recover additional types of damages — such as lost wages, emotional duress, pain and suffering, etc. — then you would need to prove that the owner was negligent. To prove negligence in the case of an animal attack, you generally need to show that the dog is “dangerous.” A dangerous dog is one that:
- Has a history of attacking or killing other pets, farm animals or persons without justification or provocation, or
- Behaves in a manner that any reasonable person would believe that the dog creates an “unjustified and severe” risk of serious injury or death
If you can establish that the dog is dangerous by legal standards and that the owner knew or should have reasonably known about the dog’s dangerous status, the law entitles you to damages beyond medical expenses. The key here is to prove that the owner knew, or should have known, about the dog’s vicious tendencies. You can do this by presenting evidence of one or more of the following:
- Documentation or personal accounts that establish the dog’s history of engaging in altercations with other animals or dogs
- Accounts of the dog growling or baring its teeth without justification in the past
- Evidence of the owner having to muzzle the dog in the past
- Previous complaints about the dog
You may also be able to establish negligence by proving that the dog owner failed to restrain his or her dog or that he or she did not have proper control of the dog, and that lack of restraint or control caused the vicious dog attack to happen. For instance, though New York state does not have leash laws, New York City does. If a person violates leash laws and a bite occurs as a result, you can establish both negligence and strict liability (as the owner broke the law).
Does Have a One-Bite Rule?
New York does not have a “true” one-bite rule. However, it does have a rule regarding dangerous dogs. If you can establish that the owner knew or should have reasonably known about a dog’s dangerous tendencies, then you may be able to collect damages beyond medical expenses for your dog bite injuries.
Who Is Liable for Your Dog Bite Injuries?
The most obvious responsible party in a dog-bite case is the dog’s owner. However, there are some situations in which you may be able to pursue compensation from two or even three parties. For example, if a dog bites while under the care of a pet sitter, the courts may hold both the owner and the pet sitter liable. If the bite took place on a rental property, the courts may hold the landlord liable as well, for allowing a dangerous dog to reside on the premises.
An experienced New Jersey dog bite lawyer can help you identify all possible at-fault parties in your case. The more parties you can identify, the greater chances you have of recovering a sizeable settlement.
Damages Available in a Dog Bite Case
If, prior to your attack, the dog was not labeled a “dangerous dog” — and if you cannot prove that the owner’s negligence contributed to the attack — you have a strict liability case. In this case, the owner is strictly liable for your medical expenses and nothing more. However, if you can establish negligence or a history of violence or aggression, you may be able to pursue compensation for additional damages:
- Lost income and wages
- Emotional duress
- Reduced earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Corrective or plastic surgery for scarring
- Disfigurement and scarring
Many times, dogs do not attack without any prior indications of their aggressive or vicious tendencies. With the right help and guidance from our New Jersey dog bite lawyers, you can build a case that supports your need and entitlement to additional damages.
Contact a Judd Shaw Injury Law™ New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer
A dog bite can have several adverse implications on your health, life and future happiness. For this reason, state laws entitle victims to monetary recovery. What types of damages you may receive, however, depend largely on the circumstances surrounding and leading up to your dog attack.
Regardless of where your dog bite injury occurred, we’re here to help you maximize your chances of getting the money you deserve. Our law firm is also dedicated to providing client service and care that dog bite victims like you expect after suffering serious injuries.
That means you’ll get the No Fee Guarantee®—a promise that you won’t owe us any money unless we get money for you. In addition, you can expect to be treated according to our five core principles—we call them the Judd Shaw Way, and together they guide every step that our New Jersey dog bite attorneys take on our clients’ behalf. Don’t wait to get the money you deserve. Call 1-866-909-6894 or contact us online today.