Although dogs are wonderful pets, an untrained or out-of-control dog that is attacking another person seems as far from a sweet pet. New Jersey, like many states, holds dog owners legally responsible for their pet’s bite, regardless of whether the dog showed a propensity to bite.

If you or your child has been the victim of an unprovoked dog bite, contact a Cumberland County dog bite lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer can work diligently to build your case.

Liability

In New Jersey, if a dog, without provocation, bites a person that is lawfully on or in a public place, including the property of the dog’s owner, the owner is liable for damages that the victim suffers. Under these circumstances, dog bite cases are handled under the strict liability legal theory.

Strict liability is a theory in personal injury law that removes the negligence element and the corresponding requirement that the victim and their Cumberland dog bite lawyer establish that the pet owner was negligent. In a dog bite case, the victim would not have to establish that the dog’s owner failed to keep the dog contained or restrained, or that the pet’s owner was or should have been aware of the animal’s propensity for biting or violence and acted accordingly.

Strict liability only requires the victim to establish that they were bitten by a specific dog, who was owned by the defendant in the case. Under this theory, the owner taking precautions to prevent the dog from biting the victim would not limit their liability. Moreover, New Jersey does not follow the one bite rule, so the owner can be responsible for the victim’s injuries, even if it is the first time that the dog bit anyone.

Provocation

While the law does not presume that all dogs attack with provocation, provocation is a defense in a dog bite case. Additionally, one of the key requirements for a dog owner being strictly liable for a dog bite is that the attack occurred without provocation. This is designed to prohibit a dog owner from being held to an unfair standard when the victim’s actions may have been the cause for the dog bite.

There is not, however, a uniform standard for what constitutes provocation between states or jurisdictions, so what may meet the threshold for provocation in one jurisdiction may be insufficient in another.

The general theory is that the kind of acts that would justify assault under the principle of self-defense could give rise to a dog being justified in biting another person. Hitting or kicking a dog, stepping on a dog, and/or throwing something at a dog could all constitute provocation for a dog bite.

Value of a Cumberland County Dog Bite Attorney

Cases in New Jersey must be filed within the applicable statute of limitations.  This is important because if a person does not file their case within the applicable Statute of Limitations, they will be ineligible for compensation.

A Cumberland dog bite lawyer can help analyze the statute of limitations that applies to your case and ensure your rights are protected. For more information on what to do if you have been the victim of a dog bite in Cumberland County,  contact an experienced dog bite lawyer today.