New Jersey’s law pertaining to dog attacks and bites is very favorable to injured dog bite victims. As part 1 discussed, owners are “strictly liable” for injuries caused by their dogs to other people. This means an injured victim does not have to prove that the dog attacked or bit another person before or that the owner knew of the dog’s vicious propensities.
In order for dog attack victims to bring suit against dog owners pursuant to NJ’s “strict liability” statute, injured victims must prove 3 things:
Part 2 of this article will discuss the recent NJ court decision that favors dog bite victims even more below.
In a NJ Appellate Division case, Aiges v. Fuccillo, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-1273-11T1 (December 21, 2012), the plaintiff was a pet sitter who was paid to take care of the defendants’ dog, a Golden Retriever, in her home while the defendants were on vacation. When the plaintiff bent over to pick up a napkin in her own living room, the defendants’ dog attacked and bit her on her body. Plaintiff then sued the defendants for her injuries. Defendants countered by saying that she was paid to care for the dog; therefore, she was an independent contractor and that strict liability statute did not apply to her.
The Appellate Court did not agree with defendants’ argument and stated:
Although we recognize that the plaintiff was paid a fee for caring for defendant's dog, her receipt of that fee alone is not dispositive of the independent contractor analysis.... Indeed, teenagers and neighbors commonly earn modest sums as dog-walkers and dog-sitters, and we discern no intent of the Legislature to exclude such persons from the protection of the statute.
Therefore, a dog sitter can bring a lawsuit against the owner if they are attacked by a dog. It is very common for neighbors to ask kids in the neighborhood to walk their dogs, and this case provides even more protection for them because they are exposed to the risk of dog attacks.
If you or a loved one was attacked by a dog in New Jersey, compensation may be available. To discuss your legal options, call Dan O’Brien, an experienced NJ dog bite injury lawyer who has helped many injured dog attack victims @ 877.944.8396. Mr. O’Brien offers a free, no obligation initial consultation.