Understanding Dog Bite Laws in New Jersey

Like other states, NJ has specific rules governing dog bite claims. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, or if you own a dog accused of biting or injuring someone, it’s important to know the key elements of New Jersey’s dog bite laws.

New Jersey: A Strict Liability Dog Bite State

New Jersey is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. Under the strict liability rule, a dog’s owner is responsible when the dog bites someone, regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten anyone or acted aggressively before.

New Jersey’s strict liability law, however, applies only to dog bites. If a dog injures a person in another way, the injured person must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in failing to prevent the injury. For instance, if a dog jumps on a person and knocks them down, causing injury, that person must show that the owner failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog.

Negligence in NJ Dog Bite Claims

In a negligence claim, the dog’s previous behavior matters because it affects what would “count” as reasonable care. For instance, if a dog is generally calm and friendly, letting a child walk the dog on a leash might count as reasonable care. If a dog is known to chase and jump on people, however, allowing a child to hold the leash might not rise to the level of reasonable care, especially if the child is too small to restrain the dog once it’s excited.

What happens when a dog injures someone both by biting and in another way, like scratching or knocking the person down? In this situation, the owner may have to pay damages under the state’s strict liability statute for all the injuries. The New Jersey Court of Appeals, in Gross v. Dunham, found that as long as a bite occurred, the owner could be held liable under the statute, regardless of whether every injury addressed by the case resulted directly from the bite.

Free Consultation with Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys

At The Law Offices of Richard A. Stoloff, our experienced personal injury lawyers focus on defending your rights and maximizing your compensation in dog bite claims. To learn more, contact us today by calling our Linwood, New Jersey office at 609.957.6810 or our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office at 215.988.9800.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.