Two teenage boys from Paterson, New Jersey, were recently mauled by a neighbor’s dog. The attack was so vicious and brutal that one of the boys was killed as a result of the incident. The boys were walking in their neighborhood when a 115-pound bullmastiff escaped from its owner’s property and suddenly attacked. When the dog began biting the boys, they tried to escape by running down the street in opposite directions. One of the boys was able to make it to his home, where he showed his parents a wound on his hand. The wound was later treated at a local hospital. The other boy went missing following the attack.
The dog’s owner also suffered bite injuries when he tried to stop the attack by stabbing the dog. Despite the owner’s efforts, the damage had already been done. The second boy, who had gone missing after running from the dog, was later found dead in a nearby ditch with significant dog bite wounds. When animal control officers arrived on the scene, the dog was euthanized. The dog will be tested for rabies and examined in order to determine if there was an underlying reason for its attack.
While neither criminal nor civil charges have yet to be filed, the dog’s owner may be liable to both victims under New Jersey’s dog bite law. The extent of the owner’s liability may be amplified by the fact that neighbors and witnesses report that this was not the first time the dog had attacked. Under the dog bite law, however, a dog’s owner can be held civilly liable for its conduct even if unaware of the dog’s viciousness.
In order to bring a successful civil claim under the New Jersey dog bite law, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant owned the dog, that the dog bit the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff was in a public place or lawfully on the owner’s property at the time of the attack. If a dog bite victim can demonstrate all of these elements during trial, then recovery is available for expenses related to personal injury and any emotional distress suffered as a result of the incident.