This dog bite attack was thwarted by a heroic cat, and captured on video, much to the delight of many viewers online. However, the sad fact is that many children and adults are injured by dog bites each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of 2013 it was estimated that 4.5 million dog bites occur each year, and nearly 885,000 dog bites require medical attention. Almost all fatal dog bites involve male dogs that have not been neutered. Most people who are bitten, are bitten by dogs that they know, and that live near their homes. Also, most bites are to the arms, legs, hands, and/or feet.
The New Jersey Dog Bite Liability Law provides the following:
The owner of a dog that bites or attacks a person may strictly liable under NJ law. The statute, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, reads, in relevant part:
The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
Basically, three elements must be proven for liability to attach. First, the defendant must be the owner of the dog. Second, the dog must have bitten the injured party. Finally, the bite must occur while the plaintiff was in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s property. If the elements are satisfied, then the owner is strictly liable – that means that the victim does not have to prove that the owner did anything wrong.
It is important to note that under New Jersey’s law, the owner of the dog will be liable regardless of whether or not the owner knew that the dog may be vicious. It is also important to note that only an owner is liable under the statute. A person who is merely watching the dog will not be strictly liable for a dog bite. However, a dog walker, dog-sitter, or even a landlord may be liable if they were negligent in caring for the dog.