Dog Bite Victim’s Negligence and How It Affects Your Case

training of a police dogThis week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  There are more than 83 million dogs owned in the U.S., with at least one dog in one out of every three households.  Therefore, it is important that both dog owners and non-dog owners are aware of the laws put in place to protect individuals from dog attacks.

Villani & DeLuca partner Carmine R. Villani is one of the leading dog bite attorneys in the state.  He has taught a webinar titled “Handling the Dog Bite Case in New Jersey” to other New Jersey attorneys on multiple occasions.  If you have suffered a dog bite injury, it’s important that you call an experienced lawyer to find out how to proceed.

New Jersey’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws

New Jersey’s strict liability stance on dog bites normally holds dog owners fully liable if their dog bites someone.  This includes dog bites that occur in public, or on the owner’s property, as long as the victim was there with the owner’s consent.  Unlike “one-bite rule” states, strict liability states hold owners fully responsible, even if their dog has never bitten anybody before.  However, the state also recognizes that in certain cases a bite may have been caused by the dog bite victim’s negligence or their own actions may have contributed to the incident.  In such cases, a court can rule that the dog owner is only partially liable, or completely free from any liability.

Dog Bite Victim’s Negligence: Trespassing or Abuse by the Dog Bite Victim

In order to hold the victim partly or fully responsible for a dog bite, the dog’s owner must prove that the dog bite victim’s negligence or own actions justified an attack by the dog.  A common example is if the dog bite victim was bit while trespassing on the defendant’s property.  Since New Jersey’s dog bite statute, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, clearly states the victim had to have been “lawfully on or in… the property of the owner of the dog”, a victim who was in the act of trespassing may not be able to hold the owner liable.  New Jersey courts recognize that in such a situation, it is reasonable for a dog to attack an intruder in order to protect its owner.  The courts also recognize that a dog has the right to defend itself from cruelty and abuse.  Thus, if it is proven that the bite occurred as a result of the victim physically or mentally abusing the dog, the court may also rule that the dog’s owner is not liable for the victim’s injuries.

Victim’s Knowledge of a Dog’s Propensity to Bite

Another example of a dog bite victim’s negligence that may free the dog owner from liability is if it can be proven that the victim was fully aware of the dog’s vicious propensities.  For instance, if the dog is on a property on which there are clearly visible “Beware of Dog” signs, and the victim still voluntarily approached the dog, it may be determined that the victim was ultimately responsible for the dog bite.  Victim liability can also be a factor in cases where the dog’s owner verbally warned the victim of the dog’s propensity to bite, and the victim continued to approach the dog anyway.

Injured by a Dog in NJ? Call a Dog Bite Lawyer Today!

If you have been the victim of a dog bite in New Jersey, it is important that you speak to an experienced dog bite lawyer right away.  Ultimately, dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their dogs do not injure anyone.  If you have suffered injuries due to another person’s dog, speak to a Villani & DeLuca dog bite lawyer to find out if you have a valid claim that may entitle you to compensation.  Determining liability in a dog bite case is complicated, and putting together an effective case requires legal assistance.

Our experienced dog bite attorneys offer a free initial consultation and collect no fees unless you are awarded with compensation for your injuries.  Call Villani & DeLuca at (732) 965-3350 without delay in order to get the help you need!