Bitten by a Dog: Laws and Prevention

In 2010, a man from New Jersey walked out of the building where he was working to find a Rottweiler and pit bull growling at him from afar. As he tried to escape the situation, the dogs proceeded to pounce on him and attack him for nearly an hour, biting him many times before the police were called. The attack was so vicious that he was left in a coma-like state and left in his hospital bed for ten days. Over the entire expanse of his body, he had been bitten nearly everywhere and suffered extensive muscle damage as well as permanent scarring from the attack.

The man proceeded to sue the owner of the dogs as well as the building’s landlord due to their easy escape. An arbitrator was able to get him about $563,000 in damages, which has been deemed one of the largest settlements relating to a dog bite here in our state of New Jersey. In New Jersey, many of the liability laws that revolve around dog bites are becoming more favorable toward the victims. In only years before this, you had to prove that a dog bit somebody previously and that the owner knew the dog was dangerous. Now, dogs are deemed as “completely unpredictable” and anything is up for grabs. In this case, justice was served as the dog’s owner was found to be liable for 85% of damages and the building’s landlord, 15%.

New Jersey Statutes

Under New Jersey Statutes Section 4:19-16, you will find everything you need to know about dog bites. Under this statute, specific wording makes a dog owner liable for dog bite injuries under certain situations. The wording states, “The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” This is the law no matter if the person was bitten in a private or lawfully public place, and regardless of prior viciousness of the animal mentioned.

If you have been injured by a dog bite under these circumstances, in New Jersey you are permitted to bring a claim. You have no responsibility to prove that the dog’s owner was carless or negligent, just that the bite occurred in the first place. You have a statute of limitations to follow to receive compensation for your injuries, which is up to two years from the date of the incident. This gives you time to think about these deadlines and work on making your case with an experienced attorney.

Preventing Dog Bites

Of course, there are many precautions to take to assure that you are not bit by somebody else’s dog. In the case of the New Jersey man who was bit when he exited his work building, this was an unforeseeable event. This does not mean that you can’t look for the warning signs. Here are some of those signs:

  • Be aware of a dog’s warning signs. An aggressive dog may try to make themselves look bigger by standing stuff, and an anxious dog may try to lower her head or crouch to appear “smaller.”
  • Do not approach. If a dog is sleeping, eating, or chewing on a bone you should never approach as they are likely to bite due to startling.
  • Always ask for permission first. You should always ask for permission to pet a dog from its owner. This goes for adults and children alike.
  • Be aware of fences. If a dog is behind a fence, be aware of this and do not approach the dog because it could be protective of its home.
  • Do not try to outrun a dog. If a dog is attacking you, do not try to outrun them. Instead, you must attempt to give them something to grab that can be placed between you and the dog.

Have you been bitten by a dog and received extensive injuries as a result? Do you feel like the owner or another party was liable for your injuries and you wish to receive compensation? Call us today to speak to an attorney who can help you with your case. At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we care about your case and will answer all of your important questions.

2017-11-13T17:43:15+00:00