Dog bite liability laws

New Jersey residents who have suffered a dog bite might be interested to know if they can hold the owner accountable for their injuries. Depending on state statutes regarding animal bites, a pet owner could be held liable for a victim's damages under strict liability laws or negligence laws if the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

New Jersey law provides that dog owners are held to a strict liability standard. In other words, when a dog or other pet bites another person, the owner will be liable for the other person's injuries in most cases, regardless of whether he or she knew the animal had a propensity for being vicious.

This strict liability will apply when the dog bites a person who is legally on the owner's property, which includes both guests and others who are there in order to perform their jobs, such as letter carriers or meter readers. Owners will also face liability if their dogs bite people in public places. Potential damages that a dog bite victim may be able to recover include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and property damage. If the owner's actions were particularly egregious, victims may also be awarded punitive damages in a dog bite case.

Animal owners have a responsibility to keep their animals safely away from other people who the animals may bite or face liability. People who have been bitten by a dog or other animal and who have suffered injuries may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney who has experience in dog bite cases. The attorney can review the individual facts and circumstances of a case, draft appropriate pleadings and pursue the recovery of appropriate damages.