Dog ownership is a mutually rewarding experience for the devoted owner and the dog. However, with the unconditional love a dog provides comes the responsibility of the owner to control the dog at all times. In instances in which the owner fails to control his dog, New Jersey dog bite attorneys can help victims of dog bites.
New Jersey law does not require negligence by the owner or prior viciousness of the dog for the injured victim to seek compensation for dog bite injuries. New Jersey has a strict liability law that a dog owner, no matter how well intentioned, is responsible when his or her dog bites someone.
This standard applies as long as the injured person is on public property or lawfully on his own or another’s private property (including the dog owner’s) when the bite occurs.
What Can a New Jersey Dog Bite Attorney Do for the Victim?
The only exceptions to the strict liability standard are if the person bitten is on the property illegally. Additionally, the victim cannot have provoked the dog’s attack. Insurance companies will try to use one of these exceptions to limit their liability to the injured victim. This points to the need for a dog bite victim to get the services of experienced New Jersey dog bite attorneys.
Dog bites commonly cause serious trauma to a victim, including bone-crushing injuries, severe puncture wounds, disfigurement and emotional distress. These injuries can be particularly devastating to a child (who are the most frequent victims of dog bites). They often require surgical procedures or other medical treatment, frequently resulting in extensive medical bills.
When someone is attacked by a dog, without being bitten, that person may also be entitled to compensation from the attack by establishing that the incident resulted from the owner’s negligence. Such an attack may cause injuries just as serious as, or greater than, a dog bite.
What Are My Damages in a New Jersey Dog bite Case?
In a New Jersey dog bite case, there are several damage claims New Jersey personal injury law recognizes:
- Medical expenses-You may recover all of your medical expenses (even those which insurance paid);
- Lost wages- You may recover wages you were not paid if you had to miss work because of your injuries;
- Pain and suffering-This type of damage is subjective but is widely recognized in New Jersey personal injury law. You can tell the jury how badly your arm hurt after the dog bit you, how painful the arm was for a period after the bite and show the jury the scar you have. That is pain and suffering;
- Disability-If there are lingering symptoms from your injuries (and there often are) you can tell the jury about them. Perhaps the dog bit your hand. You received lacerations, puncture wounds and the dog crushed your hand. Now you have difficulty holding a book, writing or using a keyboard. You can tell the jury about that. The jury can take that into account during their deliberations and factor it into their damage award;
- Future medical treatment-If your child was bitten in the face, he may require several plastic surgeries. You (and your doctor) can tell the jury about that; and
- Punitive damages-Punitive damages are a distinct type of damage and are not usually available in a personal injury case. Punitive damages punish the defendant for bad conduct. Cases in which people are injured because of someone else’s negligent actions usually do not involve punitive damages. Punitive damages might be available against a dog owner who was found to have brutalized the dog, leading to an aggressive dog. There would have to be serious misconduct on the defendant’s part to justify an award for punitive damages. However, if we believe the defendant’s misconduct in your case was extreme, we will fight to get an award of punitive damages for you.
Experienced New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyers
If you or a family member have been the victim of a dog bite or attack, contact Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C., in their Scotch Plains office at 908-490-0444 or online for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey dog bite attorney. There is no attorneys’ fee charged to you unless we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf.