Dog bites and an owner’s responsibility

Although dogs are often excellent companions that lend comfort and friendship to their owners in New Jersey, dog bites are a fairly common occurrence in the United States. reports that in the year 2015 alone, dog bites resulted in over $570 million of homeowners insurance claims and expensive medical bills. Every year, there are about 4.5 million people bitten, and some are fatal. Many of those who survive these attacks develop infections or require reconstructive surgery. Statistics show that a majority of fatal attacks are inflicted by certain breeds, particularly Rottweilers and pit bulls.

All dog owners in the state must understand their responsibility to the victim in the event of a bite. According to the New Jersey courts, the owners are liable for an attack inflicted by their dogs on anyone who is legally within private property, or anyone who is in a public place. This liability applies even if the owner has no knowledge of previous attacks, or the dog has shown no signs of aggression in the past. If the victim adequately proves who the owner of the dog is and that the attack took place in one of the places mentioned above, the courts may then award compensation to the person who was attacked and injured.

If the person who was bitten had mistreated or acted aggressively toward the dog, the owner may not be responsible for the damages caused by an attack. Likewise, a person who approaches a dog that is known to be aggressive may be held responsible, rather than the owner, especially if the person was aware of the issue.