Dogs bite more than 4 million people every year in the United States. Between 6,000 and 13,000 people are hospitalized because they are attacked by dogs. In worst case scenarios, a dog bite leads to death. Dogs are not the only pets that harm people. Exotic pets, such as snakes and tarantulas, have injured 336 people and killed 45 Americans.
It seems as if every home has a pet. In New Jersey, we love our animals. For some people, their cat or dog is essentially a member of their family. It is important to keep in mind that they are still animals. An animal’s actions are not always predictable.
Dog Attacks in New Jersey
Two-thirds of people who are attacked by a dog know the canine before the bite. Sometimes the dog is your own, while at other times it is the dog of a friend or family member. Legally, if someone else’s dog clamps down on you with its teeth, you have the legal right to sue.
New Jersey is known as a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means that you are allowed to make a legal claim even if the owner did not know the dog might bite or took reasonable precautions to restrain the dog. The owner is always legally responsible for a dog bite. If someone is bitten, they have a right to sue to recover damages. The exact amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injury. Strict liability only applies to dog bites.
Citizens of New Jersey can sue for damages due to negligence. When a dog harms someone without using their teeth, someone who wants to sue must prove that the owner was liable. A large dog could jump on someone on the sidewalk, and knock them over. This fall might sprain someone’s wrist. Because this was an injury that did not involve a bite, the injured person has to prove that the owner failed to reasonably control their dog’s behavior and that the dog hurt them. This requires the court to determine what is reasonable when restraining the dog.
There are defenses that can be made in court when considering dog bites. The first is comparative negligence. If the person who was injured was partially responsible for the dog bite, they may receive reduced compensation or no compensation at all. For example, if someone has provoked a dog by throwing sticks at it, they may not receive any monetary reward in a lawsuit.
Additionally, someone who was trespassing is barred from suing. New Jersey stipulates that a person who was bitten must be on public property or be on private property legally if they want to sue for a dog bite. When someone is executing a legal duty, such as repairing an air conditioning unit, they are allowed to sue. They are not considered to be trespassing.
Other Animal Attacks
When an exotic pet, such as a snake, large lizard, or spider, attacks in any capacity, the owner is responsible. Like dog bites, they are subject to strict liability. The person filing the suit does not have to prove negligence.
New Jersey also has premises liability. If there are dogs roaming around a property, the owner has to warn visitors of their existence. The same applies to other animals. Should a cow, a horse, or a goat injure someone, there are certain conditions in which the owner of the property may be held legally liable.