New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog Bite Attorneys in New Jersey

The last thing you expect to happen when you are out taking a walk, riding your bike, or going about your personal business is to be bitten by a dog. A dog bite injury can not only result in an emergency room visit but also follow-up examinations and medications, and potentially rehabilitation, surgery, or even disability depending upon the severity of your injury. 

Understanding whether you have a case and what damages you are entitled to can be difficult to learn without the help of a dog bite attorney. The personal injury attorneys from Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C. have worked on a number of dog bite injury cases, can determine when you have a case, and know how to get the fullest possible coverage for your related damages and costs. One of the experienced Jersey dog bite attorneys from Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C. is standing by to answer any questions you might have.

Common Causes of Dog Bites 

Agressive dog attacking a young caucasian woman. Black and white border collie biting a person.

A seemingly mild-tempered dog can quickly become vicious under the right circumstances. Dog bite victims always leave the attack wondering, “Why would a dog bite me?” you may be familiar with the dog and have interacted with them before adding to the confusion. Most dog bites happen with dogs that know the person they are attacking. While familiar with the dog, always ask permission and be weary because these are unpredictable animals. The main reasons dogs attack humans are: 

  • Territorialism: dogs protect their territory at all costs, even if it doesn’t make sense to humans. They will bark, growl, and become aggressive instantly or bite without warning.
  • Canine instincts: at their core, they are animals, and they have different instincts that help them in the wild, even if they have never left the safety of home. Prey, herding, maternal, and dominant instincts can lead to attacks. 
  • Abuse or Neglect: when there is a history of abuse or neglect, the dog can be triggered by body language, people, and more.  
  • Excitement: dogs can be overly excited to see people and can jump or nip, not realizing they are causing harm. 
  • Overly aggressive play: some dogs can take rough play to another level resulting in an actual bite or attack.  
  • Food aggression: dogs will become possessive and bite you when food is nearby. 

Injuries from dog bites 

When you hear the term dog bite, you often think of a minor nip from a household dog who was startled or scared. Sadly, when we refer to dog bite cases, they are much more severe than a little nip. The injuries that victims sustained in these attacks have lifelong consequences, physically and emotionally. You need a lawyer familiar with the legal ramifications and an understanding of the medical issues plaguing dog bite victims. Some injuries you can sustain from a dog bite include:

  • Lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Concussions
  • Neck and back injuries 
  • Rabies and infections 
  • Broken bones
  • Disfigurement 

Many other injuries are not listed here, but these show you how dangerous a dog attack is. People think all dogs are friendly because of the age-old saying “dogs are man’s best friend”; while they can be someone’s friend, they are not everyone’s friend. 

The long-term effects of dog attacks

Dog attacks have many long-term effects, and you can suffer secondary injuries. There are unseen damages of dog attacks that will linger for years. These effects are so detrimental they can impact your way of life. The initial site of the dog bite is where you will focus, but you must also consider how the dog’s weight affects your neck and ligaments and more. There is also psychological trauma that comes with a dog attack. Before the incident, you did not live in fear of dogs or other animals. After a dog bite, you do not want to be near a dog.

Focus dog bite wound and blood on hand. Infection and Rabies concept.

Additionally, there is the financial burden of dog bites. You cannot work while you get medical treatment, which can hinder your ability to pay your bills. Medical treatment also comes with costs; you must account for your daily expenses and new mounting medical bills. Depending on the extent of your injury, you will also require years of treatment, equalling more bills. Hiring a New Jersey dog bite lawyer is the only way to circumvent these financial burdens. For a more in-depth analysis of the expenses, you will incur, read further. 

Three Parts of The New Jersey Dog Bite Law

The following elements need to be proven to prove that the dog may have been responsible for the injury: 

  • The defendant is the dog’s owner. 

  • You were in a public place or on private property with permission when the dog attack happened. 

  • The dog bit you while you were located in the place. 

What If It Was The Dog’s First Bite?

The dog bites law in this state makes you liable whether it was the dog’s first bite or aggressive act or not. Even if the dog’s owner had no knowledge the dog could bite, the owner would be held liable in many cases where the dog bites. 

You are eligible for compensation for the dog bite incident if you were in a public place or allowed on private property when the incident occurred. 

New Jersey Dog Bite Laws

There is a strict liability statute in New Jersey for dog bites. Jersey’s dog bite statute means that the dog owners of a biting dog are liable for the serious injuries caused by the dog attacks, even if he or she used reasonable care to restrain the dog or to warn others about the dog. The only proof that needs to be produced in New Jersey for the dog owners to be liable for the damages of the dog bite claims is that a bite occurred. From there, medical diagnoses and the opinion of an occupational expert, which your dog bite attorney can help line up for you, will help you and your civil trial attorney determine the full extent of the damages available to you. 

Dog bite liability 

When a dog bites, victims often wonder who is liable, especially if it was an accident or if they are on someone else’s property. Most dog bites or attacks are with a familiar dog, such as one from a family member or friend. One common situation is that a friend’s dog bites a person, and they know the friend cannot afford to pay for the medical expenses that are sure to come. These victims believe they have no options, but you do. Your friend or relative does not have to have the money in the bank to pay for your expenses because you will file an insurance claim with their renters or homeowners insurance. 

The dog owner is the primary party liable for your losses, but other parties can also share responsibility. If the dog is under the care of another person, like a walker or handler, when the attack occurs, the owner is not the only one responsible. Depending on your circumstances, these parties can also be liable for your dog bite:

  • Dog breeders
  • Dog handlers
  • Landlords
  • Homeowner
  • Business entities allowing dogs on the premises
  • State government 
  • Municipal governments 

Suppose you suffer a dog bite while at the grocery store. You assume the dog owner is responsible, but since it happened on someone’s property, victims are left wondering if they can file a claim against the property owner. Do not let the confusion of where to start deter you from filing an insurance claim and recovering the money you deserve for your injuries. 

Dog bite insurance policies 

While a New Jersey dog bite lawyer will help you through the entire process, you must know your options. Depending on who is liable, you can tap into benefits from these insurance policies:

  • Homeowners Insurance 
  • Renters Insurance
  • Canine liability insurance 
  • Animal liability insurance 
  • Umbrella insurance policies 

If you are unsure of the liable party’s insurance policy, schedule a free consultation with our NJ-certified attorney. These insurance policies are bought with the intention they will cover events for the policyholder. If there is insurance for a dog bite, it can eliminate a few issues. You will not worry about getting money for your expenses, and you are not taking money from another person. When there is no insurance policy, you will need to pursue compensation from the dog owner, who may not have the funds to pay you. 

dog bite in new jersey

Insurance companies are not your friends

While an insurance policy is meant to pay for damages, the insurance company is a for-profit business and is unwilling to pay for covered events. Do not breathe a sigh of relief when you find your friend has an active insurance policy because you will still need the help of a New Jersey dog bite attorney to recover money. The insurer will not just hand you what you deserve; they will fight you at every turn. They will minimize the value of your bite, delay paying you, or even deny the claim. Paying out claims takes away from their bottom line, and they will do anything to avoid that. 

Your Damages Should Include Your Medical Costs and Lost Earnings 

The purpose of pursuing compensation for your injuries caused by vicious dog attacks is to put you in as close a position as possible as though you had not been injured at all, to be made whole basically. When you have serious injuries that are not minor and won’t be quickly recovered from, it might not be possible to be made whole without additional damages. For example, if you have a minor bite from an animal attack, the wound that you simply need to treat with first aid and you don’t miss any work, your damages would be minimal according to the dog bite claim in New Jersey. 

If, however, the dog attack causes serious injury to your hand and surgery is necessary, your damages will be significantly more extensive. New Jersey pet owners are responsible for keeping their dogs secure and under control, and if you have been injured by dog bites due to an irresponsible pet owner, they may be liable to you for damages. In New Jersey, you don’t even have to prove they were responsible for dog bite liability, which helps our New Jersey dog bite attorneys negotiate the best possible settlement for your injury. 

Short and Long-Term Cover From Dog Bite Injuries

When a dog bite victim suffers damages from dog bite injuries, the severe injuries are meant to cover the costs that are linked to your injury in both the short- and long-term. Short-term medical bills include the emergency room visit after the initial injury and any lost wages that you might have experienced immediately after your dog bite injury. Long-term damages include the cost of follow-up medical care, medications, treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation, as well as the impact on your earnings. If you cannot return to work or can only return to a position that pays less than before, you are entitled to compensation for your lost earnings potential from the time of your injury through your working life. 

Calculating what you are entitled to require knowledge, dog bite expert opinions, and experience settling other dog bite cases, all of which your Jersey dog bite lawyers have to offer. 

Defenses To A Dog Bite Claim in New Jersey

The New Jersey dog owner may try to argue that the dog attacked you when you were trespassing on the dog owner’s property. For the dog bite statute to apply, you must have been in a public area or legally on private property. Mailmen, for example, are thought to be legally on private property, so the law would be enforced. 

A Beware of Dog Sign on a fence near a bungalow house.

But you were there illegally if you were trespassing on the property and were injured. So, the dog owner may not be held responsible for your injuries. 

However, if the defendant tries to argue that you were negligent, which led to the bite, they have the burden of proof. They would need to show that you willingly put yourself at risk. This could mean that you knew the dog could bite, but you put yourself in that position. If there are no witnesses who saw you provoking the dog, however, this can be a challenging defense to win. 

Comparative Negligence in a New Jersey Dog Bite Case

Keep in mind that New Jersey has comparative negligence liability laws. This means if you contributed to your dog bite injury, you could be held partially liable. This means that you could receive less compensation for your injuries. With dog bites, this law may come into play if you tease or provoke the animal. 

If the New Jersey court decides you were partially at fault, they give you a percentage of responsibility. You will need to be less than 50% liable for the dog bite to win money in a settlement. This means that your settlement could be reduced by thousands of dollars. 

The contributory negligence standard means having a skilled New Jersey dog bite lawyer with you. They may argue that you were less responsible than the insurance company or other defendant claims. This could help you get more compensation. 

Damages Can Include Tangible Costs and Pain and Suffering

When you file a personal injury lawsuit in a dog bite case, the lawsuit intends to obtain justice with financial compensation. The settlement is based on your injuries and losses from the dog bite case. 

Many of your damages will be medical costs, lost earnings, and the expenses of getting people to help you at home during your recovery. You may also need money for gas and co-pays for your doctor and rehab appointments. 

Are some breeds more dangerous than others?

Any dog breed can be dangerous and attack people; larger dogs are prone to causing more damage than smaller dogs. Suppose you have a Chihuahua and a Boxer. Chances are the Chihuahua will bite someone faster than the Boxer because of their temperament. Smaller dogs do not do as much damage, so the media and victims do not pay much attention to these incidents. Larger breeds are more prone to being bred for dog fighting. While it is not an attack on the breed itself, New Jersey municipalities have identified several larger breeds as public safety threats. These laws affect owners because they must now have additional insurance coverage and be ready to pay a bond for an attack. 

Angry Pitbull American Bully

When large dogs attack, it is challenging to stop them. The injuries they inflict are catastrophic, and once they latch on, they will not stop until the person is dead or incapacitated. The dangerous breeds that New Jersey recognizes include:

  • Pit bulls
  • German shepherds
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Chows
  • Rottweilers
  • Akitas 

Huskies and Mastiffs may be added to the list soon as there is increased research regarding these dogs attacking. Small dogs will often cause serious injury to children, but they can also harm adults. The breed of dog does not impact your ability to recover damages from injuries. Whether you suffer a dog bite from a Rottweiler or a Yorkie, you must speak with a New Jersey dog bite lawyer to discuss recovery options. 

Size matters 

Dog attacks involve bites, but large dogs can cause significant injury without biting. Their size is sufficient to cause a personal injury, even without trying. When a Corgi jumps on a person, it is unlikely they will suffer injury, but when a St. Bernard jumps on someone, it can cause a back injury or worse. Small dogs are just as vicious as large dogs, but they do not have the additional danger of size. When a large dog jumps, it can lead to injuries like:

  • Broken bones 
  • Back hernias
  • Head trauma from hitting the pavement
  • Shoulder and knee injuries 
  • Dislocations 

Size does matter when it comes to dog attacks. A small dog jumping on a child can lead to the same results as a large dog jumping on a grown adult. When a large dog attacks, it will jump on a person and push them to the ground, placing the dog and person face to face. The dog has more access to causing facial injuries like eye trauma. 

Vicious Dogs Can Be Punished In Several Ways

If a dog is shown to be dangerous, the owner may need to take several steps to remedy the situation. If the dog attack is fatal or involves severe injury, the dog may have to be put to sleep. The court may tell the owner to take the pet to obedience classes if the attack was minor. 

Dog Bite Statute Of Limitations

It’s important to remember you have two years from the date of the dog bite to file a lawsuit. The judge may say your case cannot move forward if you wait beyond two years. 

Are You Inside of the Time Frame to File a Lawsuit in NJ?

The statute of limitations for your personal injury case is 2 years. Exceeding it can severely limit or completely invalidate your legal options for seeking compensation. Act swiftly to ensure your rights are preserved and explore your legal recourse before time runs out, otherwise, the likelihood of pursuing your case successfully may diminish considerably. However, if your claim is against a public entity, your timeframe can be significantly shorter.

What Happens To The Dog That Bites You? 

In this state, a dog that hurts someone is put in a ten-day quarantine. This is paid for by the dog owner. At the end of the ten days, the health officer or local animal control agency will check the animal to decide if it is safe to go back with the owner. 

Law enforcement may mandate that the owner put warning signs on their property to warn people that the dog is biting. Or, the owner may have to have the dog muzzled or locked up. If the officer says the animal is carrying diseases or is still dangerous, the dog may be put down by the local animal control facility.

What Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Do for Me? 

When you have been injured, and someone else was at fault, you will most likely be recovering your damages from their insurance company and/or their attorney. Knowing what damages you are entitled to can be difficult to determine if you haven’t worked on such cases before, and even if you know what you are entitled to, calculating it into present value and presenting your demand to the insurance company requires that certain factors be met. 

To collect all of your damages, you’ll have to file a complete, accurate, and comprehensive claim backed by sufficient evidence to support the damages you are seeking. If you think your injury will keep you from returning to the same job and will negatively impact your earning ability, you’ll need evidence and expert medical opinions to support this. Your dog bite lawyer can help you line up the evidence and expert opinions you need to make the most of your case. 

Can’t I Just Contact the Insurance Company of the Dog Owner Myself? 

The insurance company makes a profit by minimizing costs and maximizing revenues, and for the insurance company, the costs are paying out claims and settlements to injured persons like yourself. Negotiating on your own will put you at a disadvantage, as the insurance company has full-time teams of claim analysts and attorneys working to deny whichever claims they can and to get you to settle for as little as possible on your claim if it can’t be denied. 

If a New Jersey dog bite victim attorney takes your case, they will likely do so on contingency, which means they only get paid if they win on your case. So reaching out to a personal injury attorney to discuss your case in a risk-free consultation will cost you nothing, and if they take your case, you only pay what you agree ahead of time out of what they win for you, so there are no out-of-pocket costs. 

Connect with a New Jersey Dog Bite Lawyer Today

The sooner you have an attorney handling your injury, the sooner you can focus on recovering and getting on with your life while your attorney focuses on making sure you collect the full compensation you are entitled to for your injuries. 

You could be entitled to top compensation for all of your losses. You might have thousands in unpaid medical bills, lost earnings for weeks, and perhaps you missed school. Most importantly, you may have suffered pain and suffering as you recover from your injuries. It can be difficult to put a number on pain and suffering, but your Jersey dog bite lawyers will do so. 

Your attorney will also find witnesses to the alleged attack and figure out every possible source of insurance money to pay for your expenses and losses. There are situations where several insurance policies could be in force that could pay you for your damages. 

This can happen at a commercial property where a private person’s dog attacks you, for instance. There could be a commercial and private insurance policy that could cover your damages. 

Reach out to one of the experienced New Jersey dog bite lawyers from Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C. to schedule a consultation to discuss your case now.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partners, Jeffrey W. Varcadipane & Dawn M. Pinnisi, with more than 40 years of combined legal experience as personal injury attorneys.

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