New Jersey is a "strict liability" state when it comes to dog bites. In other words, if someone's dog bites you, he or she is financially liable for the injuries that result. It doesn't matter if the dog owner knew or didn't know the animal was likely to bite you.
However, the notion of "strict liability" only applies to dog bites. Let's say you were going for a morning jog in Manalapan and a dog scratches you, jumps or makes you fall and hurt yourself. The notion of strict liability won't apply here because, technically, the dog didn't bite you.
In a non-biting situation -- and in a normal dog bite scenario -- if the owner should have known that the dog would attack you, the additional information will serve to bolster and strengthen your personal injury claims against the dog owner.
Proving the owner should have known the dog was dangerous
There are a few facts that personal injury plaintiffs can point out to prove that the dog owner knew -- or should have known -- that his or her dog was dangerous. Here they are:
- Size and breed of the dog: When the animal is bigger, or when it is a certain breed known to be aggressive, the owners need to take precaution to ensure the dog doesn't attack.
- The animal's purpose: If the dog is an attack dog and trained to attack people, owners need to be more responsible.
- Has a history of biting and snapping: By interviewing people who know the dog, personal injury plaintiffs can ascertain whether the dog has a history of attacking.
- Prior complaints: Perhaps others have complained about the dog in the past, so the owner should have known it was dangerous.
- A history of fighting with animals: Fighting with other animals can be proof of the dog's aggressiveness.
- When the animal is confined a lot: When the owner regularly chains, confines or cages the animal, it could be a sign that the owner knew it was dangerous.
- Other facts: Plaintiffs may be able to find a variety of other facts that logically show that the dog was obviously dangerous.
Get legal help following a serious dog attack
If you or your family member has suffered injuries from a dog attack, a viable claim for financial damages may exist. A New Jersey personal injury lawyer will know exactly what kinds of factual scenarios to look for, and what kinds of facts are sufficient, to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit related to an animal attack incident like this.