Dog bites can result in severe physical injuries and emotional trauma, often leading to significant medical expenses and long-term consequences for the victim. In such situations, understanding the legal avenues available for pursuing compensation is essential to ensure that victims receive the support they need to recover from their injuries.

This article will discuss what you need to know if you are contemplating filing a dog bite injury lawsuit. However, the best way to know your rights to possible compensation is to consult an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer.

How New Jersey Dog Bite Law May Affect Your Lawsuit

New Jersey, like other states, has specific laws in place governing dog bite incidents. If you are filing a dog bite injury lawsuit, these laws will impact your case.

Strict liability

New Jersey follows a “strict liability” statute when it comes to dog bites. This means that dog owners are usually held liable for harm their animals cause regardless of whether or not (1) the dog in question has a history of aggression or (2) the owner was aware of its propensity towards aggression.

This law differs from other states that follow the “one-bite” rule. Under this statute, dog owners are typically only held liable if they were previously aware of their dog’s tendency towards aggression.

Generally, it is easier to succeed in a dog bite lawsuit in states that follow a strict liability law.

Comparative negligence

The shared fault laws in your state could also impact the outcome of your dog bite lawsuit. Shared fault allows for situations in which the victim is partially to blame for his or her injuries.

New Jersey is governed by a comparative negligence system. This means the court will take into consideration both the actions of the victim and the dog owner when determining fault and liability.

Comparative negligence laws in New Jersey may come into play in the following situations:

  • The dog bite victim “knew” the dog had a history of vicious behavior or a tendency to be aggressive
  • The dog bite victim was deliberately trying to provoke the dog
  • The dog bite victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property

If you are found partially responsible for a dog bite attack, your awarded compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Statute of limitations

Dog bite victims in New Jersey need to adhere to the state’s statute of limitations when filing a dog bite injury lawsuit. Generally, you have 2 years from the date of the attack to initiate legal action.

Failure to file within the allowed time frame can result in your dog bite case being dismissed and you missing out on your right to compensation.

Mistakes to Avoid in New Jersey Dog Bite Injury Lawsuits

When pursuing compensation for your dog bite injuries, be aware that some common mistakes could derail your personal injury case.

Try to avoid the following pitfalls when filing a dog bite lawsuit:

  • Failing to get immediate medical attention: Delaying or neglecting medical treatment following a dog bite can be detrimental to both your health and personal injury claim. However, documenting injuries with medical records helps establish a link between the dog bite and your damages.
  • Neglecting to gather evidence: Failing to collect important evidence, such as the dog owner’s contact information, photos of your injuries, or witness statements, can weaken your legal case. Neglecting to gather evidence promptly can make it difficult to establish liability when you file your lawsuit.
  • Failing to report the incident: In many jurisdictions, animal attacks should be reported to local law enforcement or animal control agencies. Failing to report your dog bite to the appropriate authorities can make it seem like the incident wasn’t that serious. When you report the dog attack, though, it creates an official record and helps establish liability.
  • Talking to the insurance company: Don’t speak to the dog owner’s insurance company without your personal injury lawyer being present. The insurance adjuster may try to trick you into saying something that could devalue your claim or pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer.
  • Neglecting to hire a dog bite injury lawyer: Another common mistake dog bite victims make is to try to handle their cases on their own. This is risky. Dog bite lawsuits can be complex, requiring strong evidence and extensive knowledge of personal injury laws; a dog bite attorney can offer guidance, protect your legal rights, and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.

How Much Is a New Jersey Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit Worth?

If you are considering filing a dog bite lawsuit, you are likely wondering how much your claim is worth. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average cost to homeowner’s insurers for dog-related injuries was $58,545 in 2023. The value of a dog bite injury lawsuit varies on a case-by-case basis.

Consider some factors that could determine how much your lawsuit is worth:

  • The extent of your injuries: This is the main factor that will determine the value of your claim. Factors such as the depth of the wounds, nerve damage, scarring, disfigurement, and the need for rehabilitation will be taken into consideration.
  • Long-term effects: Dog bites can have long-term effects on victims’ lives. This could include scarring, disfigurement, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other psychological effects. The victim’s diminished quality of life can warrant higher compensation to address these ongoing challenges.
  • Medical expenses: The costs associated with medical treatment for your dog bite injuries can directly impact the value of your dog bite lawsuit. The compensation you are awarded should fully cover your past, current, and future medical needs.
  • Insurance coverage: The availability and limits of the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy can significantly impact the worth of a lawsuit. If the dog owner is uninsured or underinsured, you may need to pursue compensation through other legal means, affecting the value of the case.
  • Pain and suffering: An attack from a vicious dog can be a traumatic experience, especially if the victim is a child. Dog bite victims can be compensated for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish they are suffering as a result of the attack.
  • Lost income: Dog bite injuries may prevent an individual from working temporarily or permanently. Lost wages for time taken off work for medical treatments, doctor’s visits, recovery, or disability can contribute to the damages awarded in a dog bite lawsuit.
  • Legal representation: The experience and negotiation skills of the dog bite lawyer you hire can greatly influence the financial outcome of your case. Dog bite victims should hire lawyers who have a history of successfully handling these types of cases.

Get Help With Your New Jersey Dog Bite Lawsuit Today

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a dog, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we have years of experience in successfully handling dog bite claims. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side increases your chances of obtaining fair compensation.

Our New Jersey dog bite attorneys can review the circumstances of your attack and determine the best route of compensation for you. If you are interested in learning more about how our legal team can help you file a dog bite injury lawsuit, contact us today. There is no risk or obligation when you consult us.

At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we offer all potential clients a free case evaluation. Call us 24/7 at 866-909-6894 or complete the contact form to schedule an appointment.