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The New Jersey Dog Bite Statute Familiarize Yourself With The New Jersey Dog Bite Statute

March 2, 2015

If a dog has bitten you or someone you know, it is important to familiarize yourself with the law in New Jersey on dog bite liability. Keep reading to find out more!

New Jersey law states that if a dog bites you, the owner of that dog is liable.[1] This liability (known as “strict liability”) means that the victim does not have to prove that the owner knew the dog had propensities to bite or that the dog had bitten anyone in the past. Furthermore, a jury will not even consider the victim’s own actions that may have contributed to the incidentunless there was deliberative provocation of the dog.

In short, strict liability applies if the plaintiff (the person injured) can establish:

  1. that the defendant is the owner of the dog;
  2. the dog bit the plaintiff;
  3. and the incident occurred while the plaintiff was on public property or lawfully in a private place.

Please note: this strict liability only applies to incidents in which the dog bites a person. If you are injured in any other way, then you may have a negligence claim. For example, if you are chased by a dog, fall down, and consequently are injured, the strict liability discussed here will not apply since your injury resulted from the fall and not a dog bite.

Coverage for Homeowners or Rental Insurance

Homeowners or rental insurance covers dog bite claims. The dog owner will not have to pay the costs out of his/her own pocket. Insurance will cover the costs of the medical expenses arising out of the injury, costs relating to permanent problems (such as scarring), and costs relating to any potential emotional claims (such as psychological counseling). Not only will insurance cover the costs arising out of a dog bite claim but also the defendant’s homeowners insurance rate willnot go up as a result of a person making a dog bite claim against them.

Therefore, you should know that making a claim against a neighbor, friend or family member, will not mean that they will have to pay for your medical bills out of pocket or their homeowners insurance rate will increase prevent you from filing your rightful claim. It is simply a claim against their insurance policy for which they have already paid their premium.

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