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What You Need to Know about New Jersey’s Dog Bite Law

about-new-jerseys-dog-bite-lawFor most people, most of the time, a dog is man’s best friend. Unfortunately, a dog can still be a dangerous animal, often because of the way it’s raised or treated. National statistics indicate that more than four million people seek treatment every year because of attacks by dogs, whether they’ve been bitten, mauled or otherwise injured. In New Jersey, the law governing liability for dog bites imposes what is known as “strict liability,” making the process easier for those who have been victims of an aggressive canine.

What Is Strict Liability?

In most personal injury claims, as we discussed in an earlier blog series, the injured party must prove that the defendant was negligent—i.e., that there was a duty to use reasonable care and that duty was breached. Under the principles of strict liability, there’s no requirement that you prove negligence. As applied to the New Jersey dog bite law, that means that you don’t have to show that the owner of the dog acted unreasonably or carelessly. Instead, if you can show that you were either on public property or on the dog owner’s property with permission, the only two things you will need to prove to recover for your losses are:

  • You were bitten by the dog
  • The defendant owned the dog

It won’t matter if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior. You can recover even if you are the first person the dog ever attacked.

It’s important to understand, though, that the concept of strict liability only applies to bites and maulings. If a dog chases you and you are hit by a bicyclist or hit by another car, you may still have to prove negligence.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

New Jersey’s Dog Bite Law


If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog in New Jersey, you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries that you suffered. There are, however, specific conditions that must be met before you can receive damages.

First, you must show that you were either on public property at the time of the attack, or that you were lawfully on private property when you were hurt. Trespassers generally do not have a right to sue for dog bite injuries. The dog bite law specifically applies only to bites, and not to other types of injuries. For example, if a dog knocked you down and caused broken bones or other types of injuries, those losses would not be covered by the dog bite statute. You can, however, file a general negligence action for such injuries.

Like many other states, New Jersey imposes “strict liability” for dog bites. This means that, if you are bitten by a dog, you don’t have to show that the dog owner was negligent or that any negligence on the part of the owner caused your injuries. Instead, you need only show that:

  • The dog was owned or controlled by the defendant
  • The dog bit you
  • You suffered some type of injury or loss because of the bite

Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim

New Jersey law allows a dog’s owner to raise two different defenses, if applicable. First, if the injured person was illegally on the dog owner’s property, the defense of trespass may be appropriate. In addition, because New Jersey recognizes “comparative negligence” in personal injury lawsuits, a dog owner may have a defense if the injured person engaged in actions that provoked the dog.

Contact Us Now

Don’t run the risk that evidence will be lost— contact us online or call our office today at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We are available evenings and weekends upon request. We’ll also travel to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

We handle all product liability claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

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