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Understanding New York’s Dog Bite Laws

As premier personal injury lawyers serving New York, we’ve helped countless clients secure the settlements they deserve through personal injury lawsuits. From dog bites to slip-and-falls to car accidents, we’re here for you. Contact us online to schedule a free consultation

Dog attacks can be terrifying. In their aftermath, it can be tempting to blame your injuries on a bad, violent dog. However, the reality is a little more complex.

It’s important to understand that not all dog attacks warrant legal action. In order to receive compensation, you’ll need to be able to prove the owner is liable for your injuries under New York dog bite laws. 

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. The experienced dog bite attorneys at Jacoby & Jacoby are happy to investigate your case and point you in the right direction. Keep reading to learn everything you need to understand about New York’s rules about dog bites, determining liability and how to secure the settlement you deserve.  

Has a dog attack left you reeling, injured and in medical debt? Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re powerless—the law is on your side. Give us a call at (631) 289-4600 to start exploring your legal options today.

New York’s “Dangerous Dogs” Statute

According to New York’s “Dangerous Dogs” Statute, the owner of a “dangerous dog” can be held liable if their dog injures another person, livestock or someone’s companion animal. And those injuries aren’t strictly limited to dog bites but may also include dog-attack-related injuries, such as when a dog knocks a person down. 

This statute defines a dangerous dog as the following: 

  • A dog that attacks and either injures or kills a person, livestock or pet without justification
  • A dog that behaves in a way that would make a reasonable person believe it presents a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death”

If a dog is considered dangerous under this statute, the dog bite victim may be able to hold its owner liable in civil court. 

Strict Liability vs. Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

New York uses a combination of strict liability and negligence to address dog bites and other dog-attack-related injuries. For medical bills resulting from dog bite injuries, the dog owner is typically considered strictly liable, meaning they’re held responsible even if they used reasonable care to restrain the dog. 

However, in terms of other losses related to the bite injury, New York uses the concept of negligence to determine liability. As a result, the dog’s owner is only liable if they failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog or to warn others about its dangerous propensities. 

This negligence rule is also known as the “one bite” rule because dog owners who know their dogs have acted violently in the past are required to exercise reasonable care and warn others about the potential dangers. In order for dog bite victims to collect damages beyond medical bills, they will need to establish negligence. 

Exceptions to Strict Liability

There are a few situations where dog owners are not considered liable for injuries caused by their dogs, at least not legally. For example, if you were trespassing on private property when the bite occurred, the owner may only be held partially liable or not liable at all. Similarly, if you were provoking the dog before being bitten, the owner may not be responsible for resulting injuries. 

Additionally, you may not be eligible to pursue legal action against a dog’s owner if you were bitten while working in a dog-related profession. That’s because veterinarians, dog trainers and similar types of professionals understand and assume the associated risks of their work. 

Statute of Limitations

If you suffered dog bite injuries and are considering taking legal action, you need to know that the clock is ticking. In New York, the statute of limitations for pursuing a dog bite claim is typically three years from the date of the attack. If you fail to file within this time frame, you may forfeit your right to pursue compensation. 

Additional Dog Bite Rules 

Many areas of New York enforce leash laws that require owners to leash their dogs in public places. New York law also requires all dog owners to exercise a duty of care in preventing their dogs from harming others. This may include measures like proper training, adequate socializing and ensuring proper restraints in public. 

Who Can Be Held Liable for Dog Bites in New York?

In some dog bite cases, the at-fault party isn’t the dog owner. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that no one is to blame for your injuries. Here are some of the other parties you may be able to hold liable for dog bite injuries in New York: 

  • Dog keepers and harborers, including dog sitters, dog walkers, boarding facility operators and similar caregivers
  • Landlords and property owners, particularly when they have knowledge of a dangerous dog on the premises or had control over the area where the dog bit occurred
  • Parents and guardians of minors with ownership or control of a dog

Determining liability in dog bite cases can be complex and depends on a variety of factors. That’s why it’s essential to partner with an experienced dog bite attorney to navigate the legal process. 

Jacoby & Jacoby: Trusted Dog Bite Attorneys in New York

If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you know these injuries are no joke. In serious cases, victims may require extensive medical treatments, potentially even surgery and physical therapy. And unless they seek compensation from the at-fault party, the injury victim will be footing the bill. 

At Jacoby & Jacoby, we’ve built our reputation advocating for injury victims’ rights. If you’ve suffered serious injuries in a dog attack, you deserve justice, and we can help you hold the at-fault party accountable. Getting started with us is simple: Contact us online to schedule a free consultation or give us a call at (631) 289-4600 to speak with an attorney today.

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