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Understanding Dog Bite Victims' Rights

If you were bitten or attacked by a dog, you may have the right to compensation. New Jersey law makes a dog owner liable for all of the injuries caused by the dog, even if the dog has no previous attack history. In short, if you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of the attack, you may have a dog bite claim. Specifically, New Jersey Statute, Section 4:19-16 states that:

“[t]he 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 example, if you were invited to a neighbor’s home and were attacked by your neighbor’s dog, you may have a valid dog bite claim. Likewise, if you were in a public park and were attacked by a dog, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit for your dog bite.

Please note that your own behavior may prevent you from recovering compensation if you were bitten by a dog. New Jersey law will consider if you were legally on the land at the time of the dog bite. If you were considered a trespasser, or on the land without permission, you may have a difficult time recovering money. Likewise, New Jersey law considers if you aggravated the dog and/or enticed the dog to attack.

Many people are concerned that the dog owner will be personally responsible to pay the money awarded in a lawsuit. The homeowner’s insurance of the dog owner, however, will usually cover the money paid.

Typically, under New Jersey law, you have (2) two years from the time of the dog bite to bring a lawsuit. If you were a minor at the time of the attack, you have (2) two years from your eighteenth birthday.


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