NJ Dog Bite Lawyers
At Villani & DeLuca, P.C., our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of dog bites in New Jersey. Our firm has a strong track record of assisting New Jersey residents in obtaining compensation for personal injuries suffered due to dog bite incidents. Our team, led by founding partner, Carmine R. Villani, has extensive knowledge in handling dog bite and personal injury cases, and he has even taught "Handling The Dog Bite Case In New Jersey" to fellow lawyers at the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. In this article, we will provide you with essential information about New Jersey dog bite laws and how our team at Villani & DeLuca can help you navigate the legal process to seek the compensation you deserve.
Understanding New Jersey Dog Bite Laws
New Jersey follows a strict liability statute when it comes to dog bite cases, meaning that a dog owner can be held liable for a dog bite injury regardless of the dog's previous behavior or the owner's knowledge of any viciousness. In order to establish a dog bite claim in New Jersey, three key elements must be proven:
- The defendant is the owner of the dog.
- The dog bit the victim.
- The victim was in a public place or lawfully on private property when the bite occurred.
It is important to note that the New Jersey dog bite strict liability statute only covers bites, and does not cover other injuries caused by dogs, such as scratches or injuries sustained during a fall due to a dog attack. In those cases, a victim may still be able to seek compensation under a negligence claim which carries a different standard of proof.
How to Choose the Right Dog Bite Lawyer
Choosing the right dog bite lawyer is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. When selecting a lawyer, there are several factors to consider:
- Experience: Look for an attorney who has extensive experience handling dog bite cases and personal injury law, including dog bites. Choosing a lawyer who has successfully handled cases like yours is important.
- Reputation: Research the attorney's reputation in the legal community. Check online reviews, testimonials, and ask for referrals from friends and family who have had experience with dog bite cases.
- Success rate: Consider the lawyer's track record in obtaining favorable outcomes for their clients. An attorney with a high success rate can increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
Local knowledge: Hiring a lawyer with knowledge of New Jersey laws and courts is vital, as they will be familiar with the specific dog bite statutes and legal procedures.
This can give you an advantage in your case and ensure that your lawyer is well-equipped to navigate the legal system on your behalf.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Incident in New Jersey
In New Jersey, if a dog has bitten you, there are several important steps to take to ensure your rights are preserved and the responsible parties are held accountable.
- Seek medical attention: Prioritize your health by promptly seeking medical attention for the dog bite. Treatment may include washing the wound with soap and warm water, applying antibacterial ointment, and covering the wound with a sterile bandage.
- Report the incident: Contact the police or the local animal control officer immediately after the incident to initiate an investigation.
- Identify the dog and its owner: Obtain the names and addresses of the dog's owner or the person who had custody of the dog during the incident.
- Request proof of rabies vaccination.
- Gather evidence: Document the scene of the incident, your injuries, and any relevant details. This should include taking photographs, obtaining witness names, and keeping a record of medical treatment and expenses.
- Consult a dog bite lawyer: A personal injury lawyer, such as those at Villani & Deluca, can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of seeking compensation for any medical expenses, damages, or pain and suffering you have incurred as a result of the bite.
Compensation For Dog Bite Victims in New Jersey may Include:
- Medical expenses: Compensation for medical treatment related to the dog bite, such as doctor visits, hospitalization, medication, and any required rehabilitation.
- Lost wages: If the dog bite has caused you to miss work or reduced your ability to earn an income, you may be eligible for compensation for lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: This is often for the scarring that results from a dog bite as well as the other physical damage that can occur including nerve damage and loss of function.
- Other expenses: Additional compensation may be available for other expenses related to the dog bite, such as travel costs for medical appointments or the cost of hiring help for tasks you are unable to complete due to your injuries.
By working with a dog bite lawyer, such as those at Villani & Deluca, you can ensure the appropriate parties are held responsible for the dog bite incident and receive the compensation you are entitled to receive for your injuries.
Lack of insurance by the dog owner can often stand in the way of recovery:
Regretfully, although strict liability makes it so liability attaches to a dog owner when their dog bites and injures someone, recovery for those injuries is generally tied to whether there is insurance in place to cover the damages which result. Homeowners insurance will generally cover a homeowner and provide a legal defense as well as money to compensate individuals who have been bitten by their dog. Likewise, many renters' insurance policies include liability coverage for the renter which would include a defense and damages caused by their dog. However, it often happens that a dog owner is not a property owner and if a renter doesn't have renters insurance leaving the injured person without the ability to collect on a judgement even if a claim were to be pursued. Having insurance available to cover the claim is one of the most issues to determine at the early stage of the investigation.
Legal Process for Dog Bite Cases in New Jersey
Understanding the legal process involved in a dog bite lawsuit is crucial for potential clients to know what to expect when working with our law firm. At Villani & DeLuca, we are committed to guiding you through each step of the process and ensuring you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Here is a brief overview of the typical steps involved in a dog bite lawsuit in New Jersey:
- Initial Consultation: The process begins with a free consultation where you discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys. During this consultation, we will assess the merits of your case, provide legal advice, and discuss your options moving forward.
- Investigation and Evidence Collection: If you decide to proceed with your case, our team will conduct a thorough investigation to gather all relevant evidence, including medical records, photographs, witness statements, and any other documentation that supports your claim.
- Determination of available insurance: Our team will have to determine whether there is available insurance coverage to compensate you for your claim. If there is no insurance available then a consideration has to be made as to whether the dog owner has sufficient assets to pay a claim and whether there is a strong likelihood that any award of compensation is collectible.
- Negotiation of Settlement Pre Suit: Our attorneys will generally have pre suit discussions with the insurance carriers in an effort to resolve the matter without the necessity of protracted litigation. As these matters involve strict liability cases the issue of liability need not be proven so pre suit discussions are often successful.
- Filing the Lawsuit: Once we have gathered sufficient evidence, and assuming pre suit negotiations have been unsuccessful we may file a lawsuit on your behalf against the dog owner or other responsible parties. This includes drafting and filing the necessary legal documents, such as the complaint and summons, with the appropriate court.
- Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence related to the case. This may involve written interrogatories, document requests, and depositions of witnesses and experts. Our attorneys will use this information to build a strong case on your behalf.
- Negotiating a Settlement Post Suit: In many cases, dog bite claims can be resolved through negotiation without the need for a trial. Our attorneys will work diligently to negotiate a fair and just settlement that compensates you for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
- Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to trial. During the trial, our experienced dog bite lawyers will present your case in court, using the evidence collected to prove the defendant's liability and the extent of your damages. The judge or jury will then decide the outcome of your case and determine the compensation you are entitled to.
Throughout the entire process, our dedicated team at Villani & DeLuca will provide you with the support, guidance, and legal expertise needed to pursue justice and obtain the compensation you deserve. We understand that dealing with a dog bite injury can be traumatic and overwhelming, which is why we are committed to representing your best interests every step of the way.
Case Evaluation: Assessing the Merit of Dog Bite Cases
At Villani & DeLuca, our experienced dog bite attorneys take great care in evaluating potential dog bite cases to determine their merit and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable outcome for our clients. Here's an overview of how our law firm evaluates dog bite cases:
- Understanding the facts: During the initial consultation, we listen carefully to your account of the incident, gathering information about the circumstances surrounding the dog bite, the severity of your injuries, and any contributing factors.
- Reviewing evidence: We assess the available evidence, including medical records, photographs, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation. This helps us understand the strength of your case and the potential damages you may be able to recover.
- Examining liability: Our attorneys analyze the liability of the dog owner or other responsible parties based on New Jersey's strict liability statute and any potential defenses that may be raised.
- Evaluating damages: We estimate the extent of your damages, taking into account medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other relevant factors. This helps us determine the potential value of your case and the compensation you may be entitled to.
- Considering case history and precedents: Our team also reviews case law and relevant legal precedents in New Jersey to determine how similar cases have been resolved in the past, which can provide valuable insight into the potential outcome of your case.
By conducting a thorough case evaluation, we can provide you with a realistic assessment of your case's merit and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable outcome. This information will help you make informed decisions about how to proceed with your dog bite claim.
FAQs about Dog Bite Cases in New Jersey
What is the statute of limitations for dog bite cases in New Jersey?
The statute of limitations for dog bite cases in New Jersey is 2 years as tort claim the same as a negligence claim in NJ. Different rules may apply for minors which can extend that timeframe.
What does New Jersey's dog bite law entail?
New Jersey has a strict liability law for dog bites under NJSA § 4:19-16. This means that the dog owner is held liable for any injuries caused by their dog, regardless of the dog's previous history of aggression, as long as the victim did not provoke the dog or trespass on private property. In the past there was a one bite rule which meant it had to be proven that the dog had previously bit but that requirement was removed when the strict liability statute was implemented.
What are the chances of winning a dog bite case in New Jersey?
The chances of winning a dog bite case in New Jersey depend on various factors, including the circumstances of the case and the evidence available. Since New Jersey has a strict liability law, the chances of proving liability is generally simple for victims who have not provoked the dog or trespassed on private property. However, simply having the dog owner liable is only half the battle. If the dog owner is judgment proof and has no insurance to cover the claim although liable you may not be able to receive compensation for your injury. The old saying “you can't get blood our of a stone” comes to bear in many cases. Although the liability is there, the dog owner may have no assets or insurance leaving the injured party with an injury but no recovery.
Why Choose Villani & Deluca for Your NJ Dog Bite Case
- Experience: Villani & Deluca has a team of experienced attorneys who specialize in dog bite cases in New Jersey. They are well-versed in the state's dog bite laws and have a deep understanding of the legal processes involved.
- Success in handling dog bite cases: Villani & Deluca has a proven track record of success in representing clients in dog bite cases. Their dedication to pursuing justice and obtaining compensation for victims demonstrates their commitment to their client.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite incident in New Jersey, don't hesitate to contact Villani & Deluca for a free consultation to discuss your case. Our experienced dog bite lawyers will help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today to take the first step toward justice and recovery.
Useful Dog Bite Resources
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) — Dog Bite Prevention:
State of New Jersey Department of Health — Animal Bites and Rabies:
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — Dog Bite Prevention:
Canine Journal — Dog Bite Statistics:
National Dog Bite Prevention Week — Tips and Information:
These resources provide information on dog bite prevention, safety tips, legal information, and statistics. They can help your clients better understand dog bite incidents, prevention strategies, and the legal aspects of dog bite cases in New Jersey.