Under New Jersey’s dog bite law, a dog owner is “strictly liable” for injuries and damages caused by his or her dog in a dog attack. “Strictly liable” means that legal liability is imposed by New Jersey law/statute on the owner regardless of whether the dog previously bit or attacked another person. New Jersey Statute Annotated Section 4:19-16 provides:
The 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 the purpose this statute, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.
Therefore, if a dog bites or attacks another person, the owner can be found liable pursuant to the NJ dog law.
New Jersey has one of the more favorable laws for injured victims in dog attack and dog bite cases. Because of the “strict liability” statute, injured dog attack victims do not have to prove that the dog had a vicious propensity or attacked another person before. However, if the plaintiff was trespassing on the owner’s property, the law of strict liability would not apply.
Dog owners can be liable for the following damages:
In light of a New Jersey Appellate Court decision in December 2012, the New Jersey dog law is now even more favorable to dog bite victims. Dog sitters can now bring a suit against dog owners if they are attacked by the dogs while watching or walking them.
Click here to see part 2 of this article series which provides a detailed discussion of this recent New Jersey court case.