Newark Dog Bites: The Basics
You and your best friend Buster are at the South Mountain Dog Park. Everything is going great. Dogs are running, sniffing, and jumping everywhere. But then, trouble walks in the gate -- Spike, the tyrannical Chihuahua with a studded collar and bad reputation for taking down even the strongest of Bernese Mountain Dogs. You don't even get a moment to react. Spike senses fear. He bites your leg. Hard. His death grip can't be unclenched. You try everything to shake him off. It's too much. You faint and lose consciousness.
All joking aside, dog attacks can be extremely dangerous, especially to young children or the elderly. Newark dog owners are responsible for keeping their animals under control. In most cases, if a dog attacks another person, the owner is legally responsible for that attack. Here's some information on Newark dog bites.
What Should I Do if a Dog Bites me?
First of all, don't do what Spike's owner in the above scenario did. Never yank or pull yourself away from the dog. We know it's going to be your first instinct, but it may actually cause the dog to grip you tighter. Once the dog has let go, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water. Next, get prompt medical treatment. Don't wait. Animal bites are very serious and can result in lacerations, disfigurement, tissue damage and lasting psychological trauma.
Report the Attack
Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including the owner's name and the address, if you know it. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw it, whether you've seen the animal before, and in which direction the dog went.
If you are considering a lawsuit, you may want to consider talking to an experienced attorney. Some things to gather before speaking to an attorney are all the records regarding your attack, including animal control records, medical records, police reports, and any other records/reports regarding what happened. Also, take pictures of any injuries. It is easier to show a picture of an injury than to describe it verbally.
What is the law in New Jersey regarding dog bites?
New Jersey's dog bite laws place strict liability on dog owners for injuries caused by their animals -- even if the dog does not have a history of violent behavior. New Jersey is among the majority of U.S. states that makes a dog owner legally liable for all of the damages inflicted upon a dog bite victim, even if the dog had never previously exhibited the propensity (tendency) to bite humans. In roughly one third of U.S. states, the owner of the dog will only be held accountable for a dog-bite if it has previously bitten. This is known as the "one bite" rule. Fortunately for victims, however, New Jersey is not one of those states.
Can I Also Sue the Landlord for a New Jersey Dog Bite?
In short, it depends. To hold a landlord liable a jury must determine:
- That the dog had a vicious or dangerous trait or propensity;
- That the defendant, landlord, or property owner, knew, or in the process of reasonable care, should have known of the particular vicious or dangerous trait or propensity in the dog which caused the plaintiff's injuries.
How can I prove "viciousness?"
- Animal control records;
- Police report records;
- Veterinarian records;
- Neighbors' statements;
- Admissions of the dog owner;
- Prior victim statements;
- Other visitors to the property;
- Hire a private investigator.
How to Recover Damages
Dog bite victims can recover for damages, but will have to prove:
- The defendant owned the dog;
- That dog bit the victim;
- When the bite occurred, the victim was in a public place (such as a sidewalk or park) or legally on private property (such as the owner's home).
Note that the dog's owner may not be liable for a dog bite that occurs on trespassers with criminal intent. Also, victims whose own actions contributed to the attack may be found liable or partially liable (think teasing a dog, pulling its tail, etc.).
If you have suffered a dog bite in New Jersey, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, emotional distress, lost wages and hospital and medical costs. You may want to speak to an attorney early in the process.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.