New York's dog bite statute does not fully adhere to the one-bite rule or strict liability, but rather a mixture of both. According to the statute, dog owners are strictly liable primarily for medical and veterinary costs in the case of a dog attack. However, a dog owner may be held liable for other damages only if the victim can prove that the dog owner knew before the attack that his or her dog was dangerous, but did not take the proper precautionary measures to prevent an attack from occurring.
Each year in the United States, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites. - CDC
A victim of a dog bite may be rewarded damages other than medical costs if he or she can prove in court that the dog was dangerous and that the owner had previously known about the animal's "vicious propensities." Knowledge of vicious propensity can be difficult to establish. Even if the dog has a prior bite case, more evidence may be needed to prove the owner's knowledge.
The application of the legal concept of vicious propensity is still being figured out as its parameters are being set according to the rulings made in specific dog attack cases. Thus far, it has been determined that "Beware of Dog" signs cannot act as sufficient evidence of an owner's knowledge of his or her dog's vicious propensities. Also, if a dog was known to bark at people while being chained, that alone is not conclusive evidence that the dog showed vicious propensities. However, the nature and severity of the attack itself can be used to determine whether a dog showed vicious propensities, and so can the severity of the dog's prior attacks.
In order to hold a landlord liable for an attack made by a tenant's dog, the victim must prove that the landlord had knowledge of the dog's presence and its vicious propensity at the time of the initial leasing. A landlord can even be held liable for a dog attack that took place off premises if he or she knew the danger the dog posed to people outside of the property yet took no action to prevent an attack from happening.
According to New York's Agriculture & Markets Law, a dog is considered dangerous if it attacks and injures or kills a person or animal "without justification" and "behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death." If the victim provoked the attack in any way, then the dog may be exempt from "dangerous" status. Additionally, police dogs are immune to "dangerous" status during operations.
The owner of a dangerous dog that attacked a person, service dog, guide dog, or hearing dog may be subject to a fine, the amount of which depends on whether the victim was a person or animal, the severity of the injury, and whether the dog has been given "dangerous" status in the past.
The pain and trauma that follows a dog attack can be immense. A victim may be left with both physical and mental scars, making recovery seem like a far off prospect. However, a New York personal injury lawyer can help victims get the compensation they need to pay for the best available treatment that'll help them eventually regain a life of normalcy. Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP is there to help anyone with their injury claim needs. You can call us at (212) 986-7353 for a free case evaluation.
- Protecting Your Family from Dog Bites in NY
- Preventing Dog Bite Injuries in New York
- Dog Bite Prevention - AVMA
Our client, a Staten Island Russian immigrant, was attacked by a vicious Rottweiler outside of his home.
Thomas Pardo, Associate at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, settled a case for a 13-year-old girl bit by a Pitbull.
William Hepner obtained a $175,000.00 recovery for a dog bite victim in her late 20's after jury selection.