In New Jersey, the owner of a dog that bites someone is directly responsible for the injuries it causes. Additionally in New Jersey, a person that does not own the dog, but merely harbors it on its property (such as a landlord or animal shelter), could also be liable when it knew of the dog’s possible dangerous behavior. Proof of dangerous behavior includes that the dog had jumped for, growled at or showed it’s teeth to strangers. Therefore, a prior bite is not necessary in order for the courts to find that a dog has “dangerous behaviors.”
In addition, the following may also constitute evidence of a dog’s dangerous behavior: the dog is being confined away from other animals and people; the dog is undergoing rehabilitation with a trainer who is experience and skilled in handling aggressive dogs; and the dog exhibits fearful behavior. In the appropriate case, a canine behavior expert may be retained to investigate the evidence and assess the dog’s behavior. The canine expert may testify whether a god is aggressive, as well as whether “fearful” dogs can turn aggressive towards strangers. This expert testimony may also constitute additional and compelling evidence of the dog’s dangerous behavior.
In conclusion, even though a dog has never bitten anyone before, a viable claim may still be lodged against a person who does not own the dog but merely keeps it on it’s property if there exists other evidence of the dog’s aggressive behavior.
If you, or someone you know, has been injured due to a dog bite, feel free to contact me here in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office for a free consultation to see if you are entitled to monetary compensation for your injures.