New Jersey Dog Bites Lawyer
Dedicated Dog Bite Injury Attorney Fights for Clients’ Right to Compensation in Middlesex County, Mercer County, Union County, Ocean County, and Burlington County, NJ
If you or a loved one have been attacked by a dog in New Jersey, and you are dealing with the unfortunate consequences of it, contact an experienced dog bite lawyer. We can discuss your options for seeking compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, physical and emotional pain, and more. We won’t charge anything for an initial consultation. So, you risk nothing by talking to us about your case today.
Americans love their pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, more than 35 percent of all American households have a dog. However, while people may love their pets, it is important to remember that dogs are still animals. They can be unpredictable and aggressive, and they can bite or attack without warning.
How Often Do Dog Bites Occur in New Jersey?
Dogs bite nearly 4.5 million people each year in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many victims are small children as they may move quickly and may appear threatening to dogs – even when they are just playing and not even interacting with the animals. According to insurance data, victims and their families filed more than 686 dog bite claims in New Jersey in 2017 alone. The state ranked No. 9 in the nation for the most dog bite claims.
What Are Common Dog Bite Injuries?
Some dog bites are minor. However, they can also be severe and even life-threatening. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Torn and exposed skin – When a dog bite breaks the skin, it can cause various types of open wounds, ranging from cuts and scrapes to deep lacerations.
- Infections – Once skin is torn, and bacteria can enter the wound, a victim is exposed to a host of potential infections.
- Diseases – Dogs may also carry a wide range of diseases. Rabies is one of the most commonly known diseases spread by dog bites, but there are many others such as capnocytophaga, pasteurella, MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and tetanus.
- Falls, fractures and other injuries – Not all injuries are directly due to bites. Sometimes, larger dogs pummel victims and cause them to suffer serious falls, hip and arm fractures, head traumas and many other injuries.
If you have been injured by a dog attack, contact our office to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer today. A New Jersey dog bite lawyer will determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and protect you from unfair and aggressive insurance tactics that are designed to deprive you of your rights.
What Legal Options Do New Jersey Dog Bite Victims Have?
If you are bitten by a dog, you should call 911 and report the matter to the police immediately. The police will likely contact animal control and have the dog taken into custody to be tested for certain diseases such as rabies. This does not necessarily mean the dog will be euthanized. It simply means that there will be an investigation and a public record of the attack.
New Jersey law protects victims by holding dog owners liable for injuries caused by their pets. Under N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, New Jersey’s dog bite statute, dog owners can be held responsible even if the dog has never attacked before. This is different from many other states where the owner is relieved of responsibility if there was no warning or prior knowledge of the animal’s dangerous propensity.
It is called a “strict liability” statute. This is because you do not need to prove the owner did something wrong or acted negligently. Rather, you simply must prove the following in order to establish your right to compensation:
- The dog bit or otherwise attacked you.
- It happened in a location where you were legally permitted to be.
- You did not provoke the dog to bite.
In most dog bite cases, little debate surrounds whether the dog bit the victim. It can be established by matching teeth marks or simply through the statements of eyewitnesses. Instead, the two elements that typically generate argument are:
- Lawful presence on the property – If you are shopping in a business, enjoying a public park or visiting the home of a friend or neighbor, you are lawfully on the property. So, you should be entitled to compensation for a dog bite under the statute. Even if you are a trespasser, you may be covered by New Jersey’s dog bite statute as long as you are not on the property with criminal intent. So, if a child is playing in a neighbor’s yard when a bite occurs, the statute typically will protect the child.
- Provocation – Insurance companies often argue that victims provoked the dog. Aggressive shaking, pulling on a tail or hitting a dog may be provocation. However, merely petting or playing near the dog typically would not be viewed as provoking the animal.
Keep in mind: New Jersey’s dog bite statute is not the only way to pursue compensation after a dog bite or attack. You can also pursue compensation based on a negligence theory. In those cases, negligence often is established by showing that the dog’s owner or keeper allowed the dog to roam free in violation of a local leash law that was enacted to prevent such attacks.
What Damages Can You Recover in a New Jersey Dog Bite Lawsuit?
If a dog bites a victim, the victim may be eligible to recover full and fair compensation, including;
Economic damages – The law permits you to claim any expenses or monetary losses you incurred as a result of the dog bite such as:
- Past medical expenses
- Future anticipated medical expenses
- Lost wages from work
- Adaptive equipment (typically in amputation cases)
- Reimbursement for prescriptions
- Any other related out-of-pocket costs.
Non-economic damages – Some losses you cannot measure with receipts. These damages include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of a normal life.
New Jersey law holds the owner of a dog responsible for its behavior. If spouses or partners share ownership of the dog, they may both be liable. Typically, homeowners’ insurance or commercial property insurance will pay the claim rather than the individual.
How Can a New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer Help You?
Here are a few of the ways that attorney Anthony J. Vecchio and our legal team can help you after a dog bite:
- Consultation – When you first meet with attorney Anthony J. Vecchio, you will have the opportunity to get immediate answers to your legal questions. You can ask about New Jersey dog bite law, how it applies to your situation and whether you may be eligible to recover compensation. Some dog bite victims fear that they won’t be able to obtain quality medical care, especially if their health insurance is unwilling to pay for treatment. An experienced dog bite injury attorney can help you to find medical providers who will treat you for your injuries.
- Investigation – Once you hire our law firm, we will quickly begin gathering key information about your case, including witness statements, animal control records, medical records and other crucial evidence.
- Negotiation – A skilled attorney will negotiate with the insurance company in order to resolve your claim. This is one less thing that you and your family will have to worry about during the post-bite recovery period.
- Litigation – If the insurance company will not be reasonable, you may need to sue the dog owner in order to pursue a just resolution. You can count on the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio to tirelessly seek justice, even if this means taking your case to trial. Ultimately, our goal is always to make the process go as straightforward as possible while helping you to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries.
Suffered A Dog Bite? Here’s How To Win Your Case
In very simple terms, if you have been bitten by a dog your dog bite lawyer will need to prove three elements in order to win your case.
- First, you’ll need to prove that the other party in your matter is the legitimate owner of the dog.
- Second, you will need to prove that the dog bite incident occurred either in a public place, or if in a private place, that you were legally entitled to be at that place.
- Finally, you will need to prove that the dog in question bit you.
If you are able to prove all three elements, you are very likely to win your New Jersey dog bite case. However, if you have a problem proving even one of these elements, the entire case could fall over. This will become particularly difficult if the other party to your matter has hired a legal representative. This is why it’s so important to get legal advice and not try to navigate the claim on your own.
Exceptions To The Law
The dog bite laws in New Jersey do contain some limited exceptions, as follows:
- If the dog causes injury other than from a dog bite – for example, by knocking someone over – a lower standard is applied. In that case, the victim must show that the dog’s owner failed to take reasonable care when restraining their dog.
- If a victim is bitten in a private location where they were not lawfully allowed to be, the strict liability standards won’t apply. For example, this would include when a person is trespassing on private property.
- In some instances, it could be held that the blame for the dog bite should be shared between the dog owner and the victim. For example, if it can be shown that the victim provoked the dog to bite, the strict standards won’t apply.
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in New Jersey?
New Jersey law gives dog bite survivors only two years from the date of the injury to bring a lawsuit against the dog owner or other responsible party. If you fail to file a lawsuit on time, then you may forever lose your right to be compensated. Speak with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting can put you at a huge disadvantage.
If your loved one died due to injuries caused by a dog, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim and seek compensation for final expenses, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and even the value of their loss of support and companionship. Under New Jersey law, you would need to bring the claim within two years of the person’s death.
Your Responsibilities As A Dog Owner
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility. Not only are you responsible for the health and well-being of your pet, but you’re also responsible for your pet’s actions. This is especially the case in New Jersey more so than some other American states, as you’ll soon learn.
Unfortunately, dog bite incidents are far from a rare occurrence in New Jersey. Figures from 2016 show that State Farm paid out over $5.1 million as a result of 70 insurance claims relating to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2016 alone. Competing insurer Allstate paid out another 50 claims that year in the “injury by animal” category, which is largely made up of dog bite incidents.
Of course, these figures are only for successful insurance claims in a year. They do not include claims that were not successful, or dog bite incidents that didn’t result in an insurance claim and which may have been settled in Court instead. To get a better idea of the magnitude of the problem, a public affairs representative from State Farm noted that, in the same year, more than 6700 dog-related injuries were reported by postal workers across the nation.
What’s even scarier than the sheer number of dog bite incidents across the United States and in New Jersey specifically is that a disproportionate number of dog bite victims tend to be children. As a response to the problem, legislators have made it very clear that New Jersey dog owners are completely responsible for the actions of their pets, subject to some very limited exceptions.
Get Help from a New Jersey Dog Bite Attorney Today
Don’t wait too long to seek legal representation after a dog bite in New Jersey. Speak with a dog bite lawyer today. As a lawyer who has litigated thousands of cases, he will have the skills in and out of the courtroom to pursue all compensation that you are entitled to receive. We won’t charge you for your initial consultation, and we won’t even charge you a fee unless we succeed in recovering the damages that you deserve.