No one should be harmed by someone else’s pet. To hold the pet owner responsible for their negligent actions and their inability to protect you from their pet, speak with a New York dog bite attorney from Jacoby & Jacoby for a free evaluation of your case.
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.
Victims of dog bites may recover:
- Compensation for medical expenses related to the attack even if the owner was not aware that the dog was dangerous; and/or
- Compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disabilities BUT ONLY IF the owner was aware that the dog was dangerous and could injure someone.
Recovering both types of damages in a dog bite claim requires showing that the dog had a history of violence, which is referred to as “vicious propensity.” If a dog bit someone in the past, that would fulfill this requirement, but there are other situations where it may apply.
How to Prove Vicious Propensity
Proving vicious propensity requires an in-depth investigation into the dog’s background to determine if the owner was aware that it had a history of violence. All dog bites must be reported to the Department of Health (DOH), which may have records showing that the dog has bitten other victims, which can support your claim. In addition, if you can show that the dog was a threat to others, such as by lunging or snapping at strangers without provocation, then you may be able to prove vicious propensity.
However, it is important to understand that 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.
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. 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.
To determine if you can recover full compensation under New York’s vicious propensity laws, you will need to work with an experienced attorney.
What makes a dog dangerous?
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.
NY Dog Bite Attorneys Fighting Hard for Your Recovery
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, Jacoby & Jacoby 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.