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NYC Dog Bite Laws Explained

Dogs bring a lot of joy to people and deserve their reputation as a person’s best friend. However, there are unfortunate instances where dogs lash out and bite people. Sometimes it seems intentional, and other times it comes across merely as an accident.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is still important to protect yourself. Dog bites can lead to rabies and other serious health conditions. If you don’t know the dog handler or there are other troubling circumstances, it’s important to understand NYC dog bite laws.

The rules and guidelines for dog bites and your legal rights in NYC are somewhat murky and complicated. Making yourself aware of dog bite statutes and consulting an injury claims attorney are your first steps.

Understanding New York City's Dog Bite Legislation: A Comprehensive Guide

Dog Bite Laws – New York

The state of New York requires a victim to prove that the canine had a dangerous tendency to bite people and that the dog owner was aware of this.

Your legal rights are outlined under New York Agriculture & Markets Code, Section 123. New York Section 123 of the statue explains that the statute covers both injuries caused by dog bites and non-bite injuries involving canines (i.e., a dog knocking over a child).

New York Legal Definition of a “Dangerous Dog”

Based on New York laws, an owner or handler of a “dangerous dog” is liable for medical bills and veterinary costs if the animal injures another person, livestock, or companion (i.e., emotional support dog).

What is a “dangerous dog” considered in the state of New York? According to dog bite laws in New York:

  • A dog is dangerous if it attacks and either injures or kills a person, farm animal, or pet without justification. Or,
  • The dog behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog possesses a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”

It is worth mentioning that the same rules do not apply to a canine that is part of law enforcement and carrying out its duties. A good example of this would be when a suspect is tackled and disarmed by a law enforcement dog, which may also cause injuries in the process.

Furthermore, while victims of New York dog bites are entitled to compensation for medical bills and veterinary costs, that is all the law will cover in terms of damages – unless a victim proves the canine had a dangerous tendency, and the owner was aware of it.

Proving negligence is not enough in the state of New York for filing a personal injury claim, at least in terms of dog bites.

Dog Bite Lawsuit Payouts

There are generally two types of ways that victims of dog bites in New York receive compensation for their damages.

Per New York’s “dangerous dog” statute, a dog owner is “strictly liable” for all the medical bills associated with the accident when injuries occur. For example, a dog owner is responsible for medical costs if the dog acts aggressive and takes a bite, even if the owner had taken reasonable precautions to control or restrain the canine.

Secondly, a victim of a New York dog bite may also sue for other damages that result from the dog-related injury. However, the victim will need to prove that the owner of the canine acted negligently.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

Dog bite laws in New York are not the easiest to comprehend. Therefore, it is a good idea to consult with a legal team before deciding to file a lawsuit. In some cases, all you can expect is for the owner to cover medical bills related to the dog bite, since proving owner negligence in these types of cases is not always straightforward.

If you plan to file a personal injury claim for a dog bite and receive greater damages, it is worthwhile to make yourself aware of some common dog bite defense claims:

  • The dog was a law enforcement animal carrying out its duties.
  • The dog was protecting its home against a threatening person that trespassed on personal property.
  • The dog was protecting its owner, puppies, or itself when it decided to bite back.
  • The dog was provoked by getting abused or tormented by a person that was bitten or injured.

In extreme examples, a dog owner in New York may get charged with a misdemeanor. The criminal charges generally get filed when a canine was previously declared a “dangerous dog,” and the victim suffered serious injuries (or death).

A Closer Look at Dog Bite Regulations in NYC: What You Need to Know

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Did a dangerous dog in New York injure you? Contact a seasoned attorney for your anticipated dog bite lawsuit payouts.

You deserve fair compensation for your damages and emotional trauma. Dog bites are serious and especially threatening to little children or the elderly. Contact a skilled attorney at Greenberg & Stein to go over your rights and determine whether you should consider filing a lawsuit.

Greenberg & Stein is available at 212-969-8770, or The initial consultation is 100% commitment-free and offered at no cost to you.