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Can I Sue For A Dog Bite In New York?

Dog bite incidents are far more common than you might think. There are nearly 4.7 million dog bite occurrences every year in the United States. Some of these bite injury cases require medical attention. According to the CDC, more than 360,000 people needed medical treatment. Across the country, there are different bite laws that determine if the dog owner can be sued or not. In New York, it is possible to sue the dog owner or keeper under certain circumstances. Nonetheless, the amount of compensation that the plaintiff may be given is highly dependent on the facts of the incident.

A bite victim who was attacked by a dog deemed dangerous due to previous attacks, for example, will not be compensated in the same way as someone who was bitten by a dog with no history of aggressive behavior. It’s worth noting that in New York, you can sue not only for dog bites on humans but also for dog bites on companion animals or farm animals.

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When is a dog owner liable for bite injuries caused by their pet?

Dog owners or keepers may be held liable for the injuries their pets cause to other people, companion animals, or farm animals in these cases:

  • If the dog has attacked before

When the plaintiff is able to prove that the dog has bitten another person, companion, or farm animal in the past. 

  • If the dog was trained to attack

When owners train their dogs to attack other people and/or animals, it is considered that the owner is aware of the dog’s capacities and violence. 

  • If the dog has shown vicious propensities

A vicious propensity can be aggressive barking, jumping on other people, or chasing people. Some dog breeds are considered to have a higher propensity towards viciousness. 

When may an owner not be liable for a dog attack?

In some circumstances, the dog owner is not accountable for the damages that their dog has caused. These are some of the circumstances in which the owner may be released from liability.

  • If the dog was provoked

In situations in which it can be proven that the dog was provoked, assaulted, or tormented by the plaintiff, the owner cannot be held liable for the damages caused by the dog.

  • If the plaintiff was trespassing the owner’s property

In cases in which it is discovered that the attacked person was trespassing the dog owner’s property, the owner may not be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. 

  • If the dog was protecting its owner or puppies

When the dog is protecting its owner, puppies, or anyone from its household from the plaintiff’s actions, the owner or keeper may not be held accountable.

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How does the dog bite law work in New York?

Dog bites are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States. The state of New York is no exception. “Strict liability” and “one-bite rule” are the two most frequent approaches. Authorities in certain states only utilize one of these two ways. New York, on the other hand, is a little different from the rest. New York is classified as a mixed state. In some circumstances, “strict liability” may be appropriate, whereas in others, the “one-bite rules” apply.

Strict liability

When the dog that bit someone was previously declared dangerous, strict liability is used. A dangerous dog is a dog that behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or risk of death. If the dog has a history of hostility and it can be established that this is not the first time it has bitten someone or another animal, the owner is responsible for all medical and/or veterinary costs incurred as a result of the dog bite. 

One-bite rule

If, on the other hand, the dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner may not be held liable for the damage inflicted by the dog. This is what is commonly called the “one-bite rule”. It simply says that the dog gets a bite off the hook, but any further bites will result in repercussions. Nevertheless, this does not mean that if it is the dog’s first bite the owner is completely safe. If the plaintiff is able to prove that the owner was negligent, they can be penalized.

For example, if the owner did not leash their dog and it attacked someone, this can be considered negligence. Similarly, if the dog has shown vicious propensities and the owner was careless, they can be held accountable for their dog’s actions. 

How the one-bite law in New York affects your injury lawsuit

You will almost certainly not be able to recover compensation for your injuries if the dog has never attacked anybody before and there are insufficient grounds to prove that the owner was negligent.

What expenses can you recover from a dog bite lawsuit?

If the dog has been pronounced as dangerous in the past, you will be able to recover compensation for your medical costs and veterinary expenditures (if a companion or farm animal was injured). Keep in mind that this only applies to physical injury. If you wish to pursue compensation for other damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and punitive damages (rarely awarded), you will need to prove that the owner was negligent. In other words, if you cannot prove the owner’s culpability, the maximum compensation that can be awarded is medical expenses. 

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How to file a dog bite lawsuit in New York

If you have been attacked by a dog in New York, you need to gather all the evidence necessary to support your claim. You should take pictures of your injuries, and keep medical records and test results that can prove that your injuries were inflicted by a dog. Make sure you have documentation of all the costs you have incurred due to the dog bite incident such as lost wages, therapy costs, and medical treatments. It is also highly advisable to contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer will help you build a solid case. If the dog owners have an insurance policy that covers dog bite incidents, your attorney will help you negotiate with the insurance company to receive fair compensation. In case the dog owners do not have an insurance policy, the attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit against them.

If you need legal assistance for a case related to a dog bite, contact Greenberg & Stein P.C. Our attorneys have years of experience working with clients who have been victims of dog bites. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 212-681-2535 to schedule a free case consultation with one of our lawyers. 

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