PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.
Smith & Gaynor, LLC
For excellent legal representation


States across America vary significantly as it relates to their laws about dog bite liability. As such, it is essential to understand the specific law in your state if you or someone you love is the victim of a dog bite. New Jersey is known as a "strict liability" state, which means that a dog owner is legally liable for damages resulting from a dog bite injury inflicted by their dog, regardless of whether or not the dog has a history of aggressive or violent behavior. There are several important nuances to this law, which we will delve into in this article. 

New Jersey's Strict Liability for Dog Owners

The law that addresses "Liability of owner regardless of viciousness of dog" is contained in section 4:19-16 of the New Jersey Statutes. It states that a person whose dog bites another person in a public place or a private place, if the person is there lawfully, is liable for the victim's damages "regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness." So, what does it mean to be on a premises "lawfully" under this statute?

For the purpose of this section, a person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner when he is on the property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner thereof.

In other words, if you are a guest in someone's home and their dog bites you, the dog owner is responsible for the damages you incur as a result of your injuries. In cases involving dog bites at private residences, the person's homeowner's insurance will often cover the damages. However, these companies are notoriously reluctant to pay, which is why it is highly advisable to enlist an experienced personal injury attorney who can aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Trespassing and Comparative Negligence

It is important to note that individuals who are trespassing with the intent to commit a crime are not protected under this statute. In some cases, insurance companies may also attempt to blame the victim, citing New Jersey's policy of "comparative negligence," which allows for a reduction in damages if the victim is at least partially at fault. In cases involving children, negligence is less of an issue, because children under the age of 7 are presumed to have not been negligent, and it is nearly impossible to deem a child negligent at the age of 4 or younger.

Other Parties Who May be Held Liable

Interestingly, the dog bite statute also extends to other individuals who are not necessarily the owner of the dog. Landlords, retailers, dog walkers, dog sitters, and others can also be held liable for the damages of a dog bite victim if they are supervising the dog at the time of the incident. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will utilize medical documents, witness testimony, and other relevant information to construct a comprehensive illustration of the events and to determine appropriate liability. After an extensive investigation, he or she can construct the most compelling case on your behalf.

Call for a Free Consultation with an NJ Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured in a dog bite incident in New Jersey, contact the Morris County law offices of Smith & Doran for a cost-free consultation. Our highly skilled personal injury attorneys can answer all of your questions and outline your available legal options.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us for A Response

Have A Question

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Smith & Gaynor, LLC
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2661
Fax: 973-292-9168
Morristown Law Office Map