New Jersey Dog Bite Attorney
An estimated 4.5 million dog bites happen in the United States every year. Although many of those incidents result in minor injuries, a serious dog bite can cause permanent damage or death. If a dog bite seriously injures you or a loved one in New Jersey, you may be eligible to file a claim. Contact a reliable New Jersey dog bite attorney at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP for help.
How Much Money Can You Get for a Dog Bite?
The value of your dog bite claim in New Jersey will depend on the extent of your damages, as well as the circumstances surrounding the attack. In general, the more serious your injuries, the more money your case will be worth. Permanent scarring, long-term disabilities, disfigurement, extensive medical care, and/or lasting psychological damage from the incident may all qualify for greater compensation amounts. Each dog bite case is unique, but all have the possibility of securing the following types of recovery:
- All accident-related medical costs. A dog bite injury can cost a victim thousands of dollars in medical care. Physical recovery may require stitches, antibiotics, rabies shots, surgeries, skin grafts, and follow-up appointments. A victim can seek recompense for all past and future medical expenses.
- Lost income or future wages. Dog attack victims often must request time off work (paid or unpaid) for doctor visits, treatments, or recuperation. If this is the case, New Jersey law entitles them to lost income reimbursement. The victim can also recover lost earning capacity if the injuries permanently impact the ability to work.
- Property damage expenses. Dogs don’t only attack people – they can also damage property. If someone’s pet damages or destroys another person’s property (including domestic animals and livestock), the victim has the right to request compensation in an amount that pays for repairs or replacement.
- Pain and suffering. Dog bites are notoriously traumatic, painful injuries. Victims can file claims for physical pain, emotional suffering, psychological distress, and mental anguish damages in connection to the incident. Nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, and emotionally coping with permanent disfigurement may all qualify for compensation.
- Wrongful death damages. In 2017, dogs in the U.S. took 39 human lives. If you need to file a wrongful death dog bite claim in New Jersey, you could be eligible for additional damages, such as funeral/burial costs, loss of consortium, lost household services, lost love/companionship, and the family’s mental anguish over the loss.
A judge may award additional damages if he or she believes compensatory damages aren’t enough according to the circumstances. You could receive punitive damages on top of other restitution to further make up for life-altering injuries or to punish the defendant for gross negligence. Only a legal consultation can help you estimate the value of your particular claim, but reviewing our past results can give you an idea of our previous successes.
Maximize Compensation with Help from Our Dog Bite Attorneys
Calculating the value of your dog bite injury claim in New Jersey takes adding up all your economic damages, comparing your case to similar ones like it, and estimating non-economic damages based on the severity of your injuries. Again, more catastrophic dog bite injuries will be worth more during a civil lawsuit. Although much of a claim’s value centers on the extent of the victim’s damages, the skill of the plaintiff’s attorney can also play a role.
Hiring a New Jersey dog bite attorney who has years of experience, plenty of legal knowledge, connections to courts in your area, and personalized client services can help you maximize compensation awards. Instead of facing off with a pet owner, his/her attorney, and an insurance company on your own, protect your rights by retaining a personal lawyer. Heading into a court case with legal representation can greatly improve your odds of securing a top settlement or verdict.
The New Jersey dog bite lawyers at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP, have the power to get the best possible results for your claim. We’ve secured millions of dollars for personal injury clients in the past. Your dog bite claim could be worth thousands of dollars or more. Let us evaluate your claim in-depth during a free legal consultation in New Jersey.
NJ Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
As the victim of a dog bite attack in New Jersey, you have a limited amount of time before your window of opportunity for personal injury compensation closes forever. You must adhere to your deadline or else, in most cases, forfeit the right to seek damage recovery altogether. The NJ courts will generally refuse to hear a claim if the plaintiff missed his or her filing deadline. Even if the courts accept the case, it will likely receive dismissal when the defendant uses a breached statute of limitations as a defense.
In New Jersey, dog bite victims have two years from the date of attack to file personal injury claims. The clock starts ticking the day of the incident in most cases unless the victim does not discover his or her injuries later. If a dog jumped up and knocked a victim over, for example, and that person doesn’t notice a cracked tailbone until the following week, the victim may have two years from the date of injury discovery to file. You have six years from the date of the incident if you’re filing a property-damage only claim.
Don’t wait until the end of your timeframe to speak to a New Jersey dog bite attorney or file your claim. A missed deadline is almost always a reason for the courts to refuse a case. Don’t risk your recovery by waiting until the last minute to file. The sooner you take legal action against the dog’s owner and/or other parties, the sooner you can receive payment for your damages.
Claims Against the Government
The government enjoys “sovereign immunity” from many personal injury lawsuits and liabilities. Thanks to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, however, injured accident victims may retain the right to bring claims against government employees, agencies, and entities in certain situations. If the government caused or contributed to your dog bite injury through some act or form of negligence, you have the right to file an injury claim despite sovereign immunity. However, rules and deadlines are different.
You might have a claim against the government in New Jersey if your incident occurred while on state or municipal property. For example, if you were at a public park that did not have sufficient animal control guidelines, areas, signage, warnings, or supervisors, the government that owns the park could be liable. Note that most K9 units or other law enforcement animals are exempt from the state’s dog bite laws if they were acting within the boundaries of their official duties.
Dog bite victims have just 90 days from their accidents to file personal injury notices with a local or state New Jersey government. A notice is different from a claim. A notice tells the public entity that the victim intends to file a lawsuit. The official claim will need to include the name and address of the dog bite victim, a description of the circumstances of the accident, and a description of injuries involved. It will also need to include the amount the victim is claiming. Submit your claim to the Tort and Contract Unit of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
Don’t Miss Your Statute of Limitations
One of the most common mistakes accident victims make is to miss important filing deadlines. It is important to know your statute of limitations in advance. That way, you can plan your legal strategy without risking a missed deadline. Working with a New Jersey dog bite lawyer at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP, can help you stay within the rules of a personal injury or property damage claim. We can make sure you file your claim on time, with the correct county courts, and with all the necessary information, the first time around.
Liability for Dog Bites in New Jersey
Determining the liability in a dog bite claim can be quite complicated. Most states, including New Jersey, have a “strict liability” law for dog owners. This strict liability law states that the dog owner is responsible if the attack happens on public property or on private property that the victim was invited to or was legally occupying. Even if the dog owner had no previous knowledge of his or her dog being violent or aggressive in the past, the strict liability law makes the owner liable for the injury.
There is one more necessary aspect that the victim needs for the strict liability law to apply to his or her case. He or her New Jersey personal injury attorney needs to prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way. Dogs can be very difficult to control, so it is possible for there to be a situation where the owner cannot control the dog. The dog does not need to bite someone for the owner to be liable; an owner is responsible for any damage the dog does to another’s property as well.
Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
In many circumstances, however, the dog owner may have been neglecting his or her job as an owner. To prove that someone was acting negligently, New Jersey law requires you to prove three things: The owner had a duty to control his or her dog in a way that would keep people reasonably safe; the owner failed to uphold that duty; and the owner’s failure caused your injury.
Using reasonable care to control a dog depends on the dog’s history. If the dog had no history of violence or aggressiveness, the standard is lower for the owner, because he or she could have believed that his or her dog was trained well enough to not need as much control. If the dog was violent or aggressive in the past, the owner’s duty to keep people reasonably safe intensifies, and he or she must keep a closer eye on the dog. The court may take the dog’s past into account when deciding whether the owner was acting negligently. For more assistance in determining if negligence was present in your particular case, speak with a New Jersey dog bite attorney.
New Jersey Dangerous Dog Laws
New Jersey has a procedure that officers use when they are dealing with a dog they believe is dangerous. The process begins when an officer thinks a dog is dangerous and he or she impound the dog. After impounding the dog, he or she will alert the owner and the court of the situation. The court will hold a hearing. If it determines that the dog is potentially dangerous, the owner will need to meet certain requirements to be able to keep the dog instead of having it put down. He or she must:
- Get a special license
- Put clear warning signs on his or her property
- Keep the dog in a locked enclosure or on a strong leash with a muzzle
The punishment for not adhering to the conditions is a $1,000 fine for every day that the owner does not comply with the court’s requirements. If the dog attacks someone without provocation, causes a serious injury, or is involved in organized dog fighting, the court will have the dog euthanized.
Contact a New Jersey Dog Bite Attorney If You Were Bitten
If a dog has attacked and seriously injured you or a loved one, you may be eligible to file a claim and receive compensation for your injury. Contact Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP, for experienced representation.