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What Happens When A Dog Bites A Child?

In the United States, there are more than 800,000 people who are dog bite victims. The majority of these cases are children who were bitten by a dog. Actually, dog bites are the leading cause of children’s emergency room visits. Younger kids are more vulnerable to bite injuries.

When a dog bites a kid, it is very likely that the child’s parents will try to sue the dog owners or keepers. Parents will normally report the aggressive dog to a local dog control officer or a police officer. If a lawsuit is filed against the dog owners, a jury will determine if the owners are liable or not. In most cases, the dog owner or keepers of the dog will have to pay for the medical expenses that the bite victim had to incur.

In some cases, with the necessary evidence, the judge may award compensation for further damages such as pain and suffering or punitive damages. Similarly, the owners may also be penalized with fines or even time in prison. 

What Happens When A Dog Bites A Child
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What should I do if my child is bitten by a dog?

When a dog bites a child, the child’s parents must treat the kid’s injuries as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the injury, the parents should take the child to the hospital. Some dog bites may seem not too serious but it is not possible to know the full extent of the damage. In some cases, small bites may cause serious damage to muscle, soft tissue, and nerves. Additionally, the dog bite victim might need to take a rabies shot.

Dog bites in children cannot only result in costly medical expenses, but the experience can be so shocking for a kid that they may end up traumatized. Parents should also try to find the dog’s owner or keeper and make sure they provide them with their contact information and insurance policy information if they have one.

Keep in mind that not in all cases the owners can be held liable for the injuries the child suffered. There are some circumstances that will be evaluated to decide if the owners are responsible or not. If you believe that the owners should be held liable for their dog’s actions, contact a dog bite attorney to get legal advice. 

What can I do to prevent my child from being bitten by a dog?

The best way to prevent children from being bitten by a dog is to keep a close eye on them. The majority of dog bite incidents happen on the dog owner’s property. That means that parents are not taking the necessary precautions to keep their kids away from danger.

Kids need to be taught the places where they are allowed to play. In some cases, dog encounters are not avoidable. Parents need to teach kids what is the correct thing to do when they find a dog who is showing aggressive behavior towards them. Kids should not try to pet an unknown dog without an adult’s supervision, for a child it may be hard to tell the difference between a friendly dog and an aggressive dog. Children need to remain calm and try not to scream or run, which may cause the dog to attack immediately.

On the other hand, dog owners must also ensure that their dog cannot leave their property, especially if the dog has aggressive behavior and is trained to attack trespassers. 

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What is the impact of canine aggression toward a child?

A dog attack can have long-term physical and mental consequences. The majority of dog bite incidents occur in children aged 4 to 9. Due to their height, dogs prefer to attack younger children in the neck and/or face; however, as children get older, dog bites are more commonly directed at their extremities.

You can easily imagine how dangerous a dog bite to the face and neck can be. Some kids might end up with permanent scarring on their faces that may cause them several problems in their adult life. Emotionally speaking, many children that experienced a dog bite suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some symptoms that PTSD causes are anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, difficulty focusing, irritability, and abnormal behavior.

It can be difficult for adults to understand how traumatic an event of this kind can be. Therapists advise parents to imagine themselves being attacked by an open-mouthed bear in the middle of the forest. For a kid, a fully grown dog looks just like an aggressive bear. Any adult would have a hard time going back to the forest after a bear attack, the same thing happens with kids. Children may grow older and they may feel extremely nervous or scared around dogs, even if they are small and friendly. Taking your child to a therapist after a dog bite injury is very important to help the kid overcome any emotional trauma.

Who is responsible for a dog attack? 

Depending on the circumstances of the accident the owner may or may not be held liable for the physical injuries suffered by the victim. In some states, the “one-bite rule” exists, while other states use “strict liability”. Strict liability means that the dog owners are always liable for the damages caused by their dog. One-bite rule, on the other hand, means that the owner may not be held liable if the dog has never bitten another person before. New York is a mixed state, which means that both approaches are used when determining liability. 

When owners may be held liable

  • If the dog has never bitten anyone in the past but the owner was negligent or their actions were careless and caused someone to be injured by their dog. 
  • If the dog has been deemed as dangerous in the past and bites someone again. 

When owners may not be held liable

  • If the dog has never bitten anyone before but there is no evidence that the owner was negligent at any point.
  • If the person injured was trespassing.
  • If the dog was provoked or assaulted.
  • If the dog was trying to protect itself or its puppies. 
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My dog bit a child. Now what?

If your dog has recently bitten a child, make sure that you notify your insurance company if you have homeowner or renters insurance. Regardless if you have an insurance policy or not, you should contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. They will help you understand your legal options.

Are there criminal penalties?

Yes, there are criminal penalties for dog owners that are found guilty. Depending on the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim, the penalties can be more serious. Normally, the dog owner will have to pay for the medical expenses the victim incurred. In addition, they may face fines up to $1,500 and up to 90 days in prison. Finally, the judge may also order euthanasia.

Dog bites can become a serious legal issue. If you have recently been involved in a dog bite incident, contact a lawyer who specialized in cases like these. At Greenberg & Stein P.C., our attorneys have worked with dog bites victims and have helped them recover compensation for their injuries. If you wish to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers, call us at 212-716-4324.

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Blog > Animal Attacks > Tags > Can I Sue For A Dog Bite In New York?

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.

Can I Sue For A Dog Bite In New York
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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.

Can You Sue Someone If Their Dog Bites You
Can You Sue Someone If Their Dog Bites You? | Greenberg & Stein | Contact Us to Get Help

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. 

How Much Can I Sue For A Dog Bite
How Much Can I Sue For A Dog Bite? | Greenberg & Stein | Contact Us to Get Help

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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