Animal attacks are grounds for legal action, especially if there was negligence on the owner or victim. The owner can protect themselves from any financial consequences or the victim can recover damages from an injury incurred. As an owner, it is always important to know your responsibilities and what laws apply to you. Most animal injuries are caused by dogs and most states have laws in place specifically for dog attacks.

According to New Jersey State law:

“4:19-16. Liability of owner regardless of viciousness of dog. 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.

For the purpose of this section, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.”

What this means:

In New Jersey, the owner is “strictly” liable for any attack, provoked or unprovoked.

For a victim to receive any type of compensation, they must prove the following: the ownership of the dog, the dog did commit an attack, and that the attack occurred in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s property. The victim cannot receive compensation if it can be proven they were attacked while trespassing with criminal intent. The dog law allows defense based on trespass with criminal intent.

In certain cases, the dog owner’s liability is not truly “strict,” but “almost strict,” in that the victim cannot be compensated for the accident because the responsibility of whoever else may be held responsible, such as the victim. A jury could, for example, attribute 50% of the fault to the victim, in which event the victim would receive 50% of his losses. Another example would involve the dog walker: if the jury believed that the victim was not negligent, the jury might attribute 50% of the loss to the dog walker and 50% to the dog owner.

It is important to note anyone under the age of seven who is a victim, is presumed to have not been negligent and at four years or younger it is almost unarguable in court.

What should victims of animal attacks do?

  • Identify the animal. Almost all municipalities require rabies tests on the animal after an attack. If the animal is not identified, the victim must undergo tests at their expense.
  • Identify the owner of the animal (if possible)and get their contact information (name, address, and telephone numbers).
  • Identify any witnesses (if possible) and get their contact information (name, address, and telephone numbers).
  • Seek immediate medical attention and keep track of your medical bills and treatments
    Immeidately photograph the injury.
  • Do not sign any type of legal paperwork before speaking to a lawyer.

What type of compensation can a victim seek after an attack?

Victims of dog bites or other animal attacks may be able to recover for:

  • Medical treatments and medications
  • Future medical treatment
  • Psychological counseling
  • Loss of work earnings
  • Punitive damages

Should you have questions, or desire a consultation, feel free to contact us toll free at 1-877-580-2200. We offer a free initial consultation, and evening appointments are available. Home & Hospital visits are available.