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Are dog owners responsible for bite injuries in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2020 | Animal Bites & Attacks

Each state has its own laws about dog bite liability. In New Jersey, the dog owner is responsible for the financial costs of an attack injury except in specific circumstances. 

Learn more about the state dog bite statutes and steps to take if you or a family member suffers this type of injury. 

New Jersey liability rules 

The statute states that if you are in public or legally at a private residence when a dog bite happens, the dog’s owner has legal responsibility. Unlike states where a one-bite rule applies, New Jersey maintains owner liability even when the dog has never bitten a person or acted aggressively before. The law considers a person to be lawfully at a private home because of an invitation, employment, mail delivery, or state or federal duty. The dog owner’s spouse or domestic partner is also legally liable. 

Proof of liability 

The plaintiff in a dog bite lawsuit must prove that he or she suffered a dog bite by an animal owned by the defendant and that the bite occurred in public or lawfully in private. The attack does not have to result in broken skin for legal liability to exist. However, the state dog bite laws do not apply to injuries that occur when a dog knocks someone over or causes a fall. 

New Jersey has a comparative negligence law for personal injury cases. This means that if the court finds you partially responsible for the attack, the judge will reduce your financial settlement by the fault percentage. The court cannot find children ages 7 and younger to be at fault for a dog bite. 

Exceptions to dog owner liability 

New Jersey is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. The dog owner may only avoid financial liability for the bite when the plaintiff was trespassing with criminal intent. 

After a dog attack, seek medical attention right away. Wounds can become infected and lead to health complications without prompt treatment.