Children and dogs may seem like perfect companions, but this is not always the case. Dogs — even animals that you know and seem friendly — can lash out and bite. Children are especially vulnerable to dog bites, and they can suffer significant injuries as a result.
Dog bites in the United States
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are over 4.5 million dog bites annually in the U.S. Around 50% of these dog bite victims are children. In fact, children are much more likely to be bit by a dog, even if they know the dog. Children can suffer serious injuries after being bit by a dog, such as puncture wounds, broken bones, disfigurement and emotional trauma.
Why do dogs bite?
Dogs might bite because they are stressed, sick, startled or territorial. They may bite out of fear or out of protective instincts. Dogs might even bite in seemingly friendly interactions such as playtime.
Any dog, big or small, friendly or not, can bite. Pet owners are responsible for making sure their dogs are properly socialized, trained, neutered or spayed and get enough exercise.
New Jersey law on dog bites
If you are bitten by a dog in New Jersey, you may be able to seek compensation from the dog’s owner. New Jersey law states that if a dog bites someone who is legally in public or a private residence, the dog owner can be held responsible for damages. This includes children.
New Jersey does not have a “one bite” rule that excuses the first bite on grounds that the dog owner did not know their dog was vicious. In New Jersey, a dog owner can be liable for bites even if their pet never acted viciously in the past, and even if they tied up the dog, the dog is on a leash or they placed warning signs on their property.
Dog bites can cause significant physical injuries and emotional trauma. We like to think of dogs as our friendly animal companions, but dogs are animals and even a friendly animal can bite. Dog owners must take precautions to keep their dogs from biting people, and can be held responsible should their dog lash out and bite someone, especially a child.