Dog bites can happen suddenly. You may see the same dog every day in someone’s yard or you may be familiar with a friend’s dog before an attack. Most dog bites are not because of a stranger’s pet. No matter how you know the dog, if the pet does not belong to you, the owner may be liable for your injuries.
According to the New Jersey Courts, the owner of a dog holds responsibility for his or her dog’s actions.
When is the owner liable?
In most cases, if a dog bites another person, the owner is liable. However, even with strict liability laws, there may be some exceptions. If you are in a public place or if you are lawfully on someone else’s property, then the dog owner must pay for any damages. It does not matter if the dog had any signs of viciousness prior.
If the bite occurs on private property, the judge will determine whether you were on the property lawfully. Express permission is the best proof, but implied permission also counts.
Who has the burden of proof?
If the dog owner attempts to argue that you were negligent, he or she has to prove that you were. The burden of proof belongs to the defendant and he or she would have to prove that you knew the risk and still exposed yourself to it. For instance, if the owner told you the dog would bite or if you deliberately incited the animal, then the judge may find that the owner is not liable for your injuries.