Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Monday, June 19, 2017

Understanding Your Rights Following a Dog Bite Injury

Dog bite injuries are actually very common in the United States. Up to 4.5 million dog bite injury cases are recorded in the country every year, many of the victims being children. These bites cause severe physical injuries such as disfigurement, loss of bodily functions or even death. Victims of dog bites in New York can pursue personal injury claims against the owners of dangerous dogs. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, consult a New York dog bite lawyer to discuss your case.

Dog Bite Laws in New York – What Are the Rights of Victims?

New York’s dog bite laws contain a mix of strict liability and the one-bite rule.

Strict Liability for Victim’s Medical Expenses

According to NY state law, the owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for all the medical and veterinary expenses arising from injuries caused by the dog to persons. A dangerous dog:

  • Attacks or injures a person without justification
  • Acts in a way that would make a person believe the dog posed an imminent danger to person and could cause injury or death.

Police service dogs are exempted from this definition.

Dangerous dogs are declared as such by judges following formal complaints filed with the municipality.

The owner of a dangerous dog that bites someone is strictly liable for all medical expenses of the injured person. This liability exists even if the owner took reasonable precaution to try to prevent the dog from biting anyone or tried to restrain the dog. Strict liability is absolute.

The One-Bite Rule for Damages in Addition to Medical Expenses

For some victims of dog bites, compensation for medical expenses may not be enough, especially if the resulting physical injuries are disfiguring or debilitating. There are also injuries that cannot be seen such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.

Victims of dog bites can claim additional damages on top of medical expenses if they can show that the owner knew or should have known the dog had vicious propensities, was negligent, and that negligence contributed to the injury suffered.

A dog can be vicious even if it has never bitten anyone before. The New York Court of Appeals ruled that a dog with vicious propensities is one that actually bit someone before or has a habit of growling, snapping or baring its teeth at people. Basically, any activity that reasonably indicates a likelihood of putting others at risk constitutes vicious behavior.

A dog bite victim who successfully proves in court that a dog has vicious propensities and that the owner failed to take reasonable precaution to prevent harm can receive damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages while undergoing treatment
  • Lost future earnings if the injury causes incapacitation
  • Loss of consortium if the injury strained an intimate relationship

Dog bite injuries can be very painful and horrific. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you have a legal cause of action against the dog owner. However, that right to sue only lasts three years, after which it’s gone forever. Do not wait too long. Reach out to a New York dog bite attorney to discuss your case today.

If you or someone you know has been by a dog, get proper medical attention immediately. Afterward, give us a call at 1-844-855-HURT to consult with a New York dog bite injury lawyer to determine your rights.

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