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Have You or a Loved One Been Injured by a Dog Bite?
2023 Handbook to Getting a Just and Fair Settlement

How to Hire a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in NJ

All your dog bite accident attorney questions answered.

Updated: June 2023

Dogs are a popular pet in New Jersey, and it can be surprising when someone's furry friend bites you. A dog bite incident can cause severe physical and emotional pain, long-term and even permanent damage, a painful recovery, and steep medical costs. You may be entitled to compensation for damages resulting from a dog bite. Hiring a dog bite attorney to pursue compensation for damages can seem overwhelming, so we have provided the answers to some of the most common questions asked by dog bite victims:

Common Injuries Caused by Dog Attacks

Are Dog Bites Common?

A 2019 study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) determined that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, affecting 1 out of every 73 people.

Is a “rescue” more likely to bite someone?

While certain dog breeds are more likely to be involved in dog bite incidents, some rescue animals may have behavioral issues that may manifest as fear response as a result of past experiences. Some rescue organizations are good at dealing with behavioral issues, while others are frankly not equipped to deal with the situation or animal adequately.

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What Are Common Dog Bite Injuries?

Dog bites can leave you with devastating injuries, including:

  • Broken skin or puncture wounds
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Scarring
  • Face injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Tissue damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Infections
  • Rabies
  • Emotional trauma

What Are the Levels of Dog Bites?

Veterinarian, canine behaviorist, and trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar created the Dunbar Bite Scale, a system widely used to classify the severity of dog bite injuries. The scale comprises six dog bite categories identified by the number and depth of skin punctures and categorizes them from mild bites to bite fatalities.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Attack

What Happens After a Dog Bite is Reported?

State law requires that when a dog bites a person in New Jersey, animal control officials hold it in quarantine for 10 days at the animal owner's expense. After 10 days, the local animal control or health officer will evaluate the dog to see if it is healthy. If so, they will return the dog to its owner. There is no requirement that the dog be put down; see more below.

What Happens When You Go to the Hospital for a Dog Bite?

Medical providers in N.J. must report your dog bite incident to local authorities. A doctor can assess your wounds to determine the type of care you need and take steps to help minimize permanent damage and prevent infection. Your medical provider will also update your medical records to document the dog bite injury, which will be helpful to support your case should you decide to sue the dog's owner for financial compensation.

What Constitutes Provoking a Dog?

Under New Jersey's comparative negligence laws, a victim who contributed to their injuries can be held partially responsible. Whether intentional or unintentional, a provocation that leads to a dog bite can be ruled partly the plaintiff's responsibility. The court will likely see contributory negligence in actions that cause a dog to become suddenly aggressive, such as startling it, trapping it in a small space, hitting it, stepping on its tail, pulling its ears, fur, tail or limbs, or physically threatening its owner. In the case of contributory negligence, the court will assign a percentage to the victim's role in the incident, which will reduce the final settlement.

Can a Dog Be Put Down for Biting a Person?

You may be wondering, "Does a dog get put down if it bites?" Whenever a dog bites a person in New Jersey, an animal control officer investigates the claim, verifies that the dog's vaccinations are up-to-date, and quarantines the animal for 10 days to ensure it is healthy. If everything is in order and the dog does not have a history of unprovoked attacks, no further action is taken. When a dog has repeatedly bitten people, has caused severe injury, and poses a significant threat to others, the dog owner is usually required to take additional safety measures. A dog that has bitten humans in N.J. will only be euthanized if these preventative measures have failed.

What is the One-Bite Rule for Dogs? Does NJ Have a One-Bite Rule?

In certain states, like New York, a negligent dog owner can only be held liable for a dog bite if the bite victim can prove, based on previous attacks, that the dog is vicious. This is known as the "one-bite rule" because the pet owner is not held liable the first time the dog attacks. New Jersey does not have a one-bite rule but instead operates under the doctrine of strict liability.

What Is Strict Liability?

In New Jersey, the strict liability statute provides that a dog owner is liable when their dog bites someone, even if the victim cannot prove that the dog owner was negligent. This means that even if the pet owner has no reason to suspect that their dog will bite, they are liable the first time their dog bites someone. Even if a dog is in the care of another person (such as a dog walker) during the dog bite incident, the liability typically falls on the owner.

What is the New Jersey Dog Bite Law?

Is the owner liable if the dog bites someone? According to New Jersey's dog bite statute (N.J.S.A.4:19-16), an owner whose dog bites someone is responsible for damages.

Compensation After a Dog Bite

Can You Sue for a Dog Bite in NJ?

Yes. New Jersey Statute 4:19-16 states that a person who a dog has bitten can sue the dog owner for damages.

Can You Sue Someone if Their Dog Bites You?

In New Jersey, a dog owner is liable when their dog bites someone while they are in a private place or lawfully in a public place, regardless of whether the dog has previously displayed indications of viciousness. The victim does not need to prove that the pet owner was negligent, only that the bite occurred.

Can I Get Compensation for a Dog Bite?

Victims of dog attacks often ask, "Can I get compensation for being bitten by a dog?" If a dog has bitten you, you may be eligible to recover full and fair compensation for your damages, including past and future anticipated medical expenses.

How Much Can You Sue for a Dog Bite?

Bite injury victims often wonder, "Is it worth suing for a dog bite? What is the average settlement for a dog attack?" Settlement values for dog bite cases vary depending on the circumstances of the incident and the resulting physical injuries, financial damages, and emotional trauma. Victims typically receive injury settlements that reimburse their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Severe dog bites can result in compensation for pain and suffering depending on the extent to which the incident has disrupted the victim's quality of life.

Establishing Liability in a Dog Bite Case

Do I Need a Dog bite Attorney? Can a NJ Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Help Me Recover for My Injuries?

After a dog has bitten you, you might wonder why you need a dog bite lawyer. Although the laws in N.J. that protect dog bite victims are clear-cut, it is crucial to hire an experienced dog bite attorney who can develop the most effective dog bite lawsuit to get you the compensation you deserve.

How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Case?

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in New Jersey's civil court system for a dog bite case is two years from the date of the dog bite injury. It will likely be dismissed if you file your case after this deadline.

Why Should You Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer?

If you or a loved one are the victim of a dog bite and want to find out if you are entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills and suffering, obtaining the representation of a New Jersey attorney certified in civil trial law is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

Bergen Law who has the expertise to make effective strategic decisions about your case while thoroughly protecting your legal rights. When you want a top-rated dog bite attorney, depend on Certified Civil Trial Attorney Douglas Standriff and his associate Marissa Messinger, Esq.

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