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When can a dog owner accuse you of provoking their animal?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Premises Liability

Dogs are commonly considered to be man’s best friends. But these fluffy canines can cause serious injuries if they attack someone. If you are hurt by someone else’s dog, you may be eligible for damages via an insurance claim or a premises liability lawsuit.

You’ll need to understand how New Jersey dog bite laws work when pursuing damages. Most importantly, you’ll need to understand the factors that can impact the outcome of your case so that you can make informed decisions

Provocation can impact your dog bite claim

Most dog bite claims boil down to two sides to the story: the victim’s and the dog owner’s accounts. Often, the victim will claim they did nothing wrong while the dog owner claims that their dog was provoked.

Determining whether the dog was indeed provoked before the attack can be quite complicated, more so if the victim was a child who cannot comprehend how the dog would react to their actions.

How the law defines provocation

Legally speaking, any action that elicits a radical change in a dog’s behavior is known as provocation. This principle plays an important role when apportioning fault and, thus, damages following a dog bite. Some of the actions that can amount to provocation include:

  • Trapping the animal in a caged environment
  • Hitting the animal
  • Stepping on the dog’s tail
  • Startling the animal
  • Taking away the animal’s food
  • Pulling the animal by its tail, legs, ears or fur

Would you be eligible for compensation if you provoked the dog that attacked you?

This depends. Whereas New Jersey applies strict liability statute when litigating dog bite claims, it is important to understand that the state also uses strict comparative negligence law when apportioning fault. Thus, even if you provoke the animal, you can still potentially receive damages if it’s established that the dog owner bears greater responsibility for the attack.

Protecting your rights

Learning how New Jersey dog bite laws work can help you safeguard your rights and interests while pursuing a premises liability claim against a dog owner.