A child and a dog may seem like the perfect pair, but parents should always remember how dangerous an untrained dog can be. Children are naturally attracted to dogs and may not know how to keep themselves safe when a dog turns aggressive.
If someone else’s dog attacked your child, you may be worried about paying for the medical bills and how the incident will impact your child’s development. The good news is, under New York State law, you may be able to hold the dog’s owner accountable and recover compensation for your child in a personal injury claim.
The Consequences of a Dog Biting a Child
Anyone can be bitten by a dog that is poorly trained or not used to being around strangers, but children face more serious injuries than adults. Their size makes them easier targets for angry dogs, which can easily bite their faces and necks. A large dog’s jaws are strong enough to break a child’s wrist or leg in an attack, and its teeth and claws can leave lasting scars, especially on the face. Children are also more prone to infections, which are common after a bite.
But dog attacks go far beyond the physical dangers. These attacks can be violent and scary for children, and many are left with emotional trauma afterward. A child may need more than just medical treatment after an attack. Parents should consider therapy to keep their child from developing a lifetime fear of dogs.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Attack?
The truth is, any dog can be involved in a vicious attack if the owner does not properly train it. Dog owners should take extra care with puppies, large dogs, dogs with high energy, or dogs that are used to larger spaces. In a city as compact as New York, dogs can easily be startled or grow anxious due to the constant loud noise and small amount of territory. If a dog misbehaves, lashes out in fear, disobeys its owner, or is prone to running away, it could become a danger to neighbors and pedestrians.
The responsibility for stopping a dog attack lies with the animal’s owner. Dog owners must always remember that by taking on a pet, they have accepted liability if it harms someone. However, for victims to receive compensation after a dog bite, the attack must meet certain legal requirements.
According to New York Agriculture & Markets Law, Section 121, a dog’s owners will be found “strictly liable” for all of a victim’s medical expenses if their dog attacked or bit that victim without justification. In addition, if the dog is considered “dangerous” according to a New York judge, then the owner may be liable for additional damages, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and mental anguish. (To be classified as a dangerous dog, the dog must have shown prior signs of aggressions, such as having a history of biting people.)
This basically means:
- First Bite: If this is the first time the dog has bitten someone, the owner will only be liable for the victim’s medical expenses.
- Second or Subsequent Bite: If the dog has bitten someone in the past, then the owner can be found liable for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Who Should I Call After an Attack?
After getting medical attention for your child and reporting the bite to NYC Health Department, you should not hesitate to reach out to a New York personal injury lawyer at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. Our legal team can look into the details and advocate for full compensation for your child’s injuries and emotional trauma.
We have represented dozens of clients and their families after an attack and recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in dog bite claims. In one instance, we held a dog’s owner liable after her pet jumped over a four-foot-high fence and attacked a woman walking her own dog on the sidewalk.
No matter how complicated the case is, our team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, can investigate it and determine how you can receive compensation. To discuss your options in a free consultation, call us at (212) 986-7353.