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When Man’s Best Friend Bites

While dogs may be man’s best friend, dog bite injuries are still common throughout New York. Regardless of breed, size or training, any dog is capable of inflicting harm upon a person. If you are a victim of a dog bite injury, the lawyers at DeMore Law Firm, PLLC, may be able to help you get legal and financial relief.

You could recover several types of damages if you were the victim of a dog bite. The first being the most obvious, medical bills. Beyond medical bills, you can recover for lost income from having to treat your injuries and for being unable to do your job in the future as a result of the incident. Another type of damages is for pain and suffering, as many people develop a fear or phobia of dogs after a particularly vicious dog bite. This is highly applicable to children who may suffer lifelong trauma. Property damages may also be recoverable if applicable.

At DeMore Law Firm, PLLC, in Syracuse, New York, our experienced personal injury lawyers have more than 30 years of experience representing injury victims throughout the state in various personal injury cases. We invite you to call us and find out more about how we can help you discover your legal options.

How Dog Bite Laws Work In New York

There are several legal frameworks in dog bite cases. New York uses a mixture of the “one bite” rule and the “strict liability rule.”

  • The One Bite Rule – This rule relies heavily on the fact that the owner may know, or reasonably should have known, about their dog’s “dangerous” propensities. The first incident of the dog’s dangerous or harmful behavior, such as biting someone, is subject to exclusion because the owner would likely have no reason to know. However, any subsequent incidents would make the owner liable to pay for injuries their pet causes.
  • The Strict Liability Rule – This approach of strict liability means that the owner of a dog will be held liable or responsible for all of the injurious acts of their dog, regardless of whether or not they had any reason to know that their dog was dangerous.
  • New York’s Approach – The state takes a hybrid approach of the one bite rule and strict liability. Here, there is strict liability for owners of dangerous animals specifically for medical costs. When a dangerous dog bites someone, they are strictly liable for all medical costs. All other sorts of damages are recoverable by proving that the owner was negligent. This could be shown by failure to put the dog on a leash or properly enclose their property.
  • Statute of limitations – You have up to three years from the date of the incident to file your claim in court. If this date is missed, you can be barred from filing your complaint forever.

Defining “Dangerous Dogs”

The New York Agriculture and Markets Code Section 121, which deals with liability for dog bite incidents, defines a “dangerous” dog as one that:

  • Attacks and either injures or kills a person, farm animal, or pet without justification
  • Behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”

There has been an exception made to the definition of a dangerous dog:

  • Law enforcement dogs can never be deemed as a dangerous dog
  • When dog is provoked by a person and the dog’s responses was biting or injuring that person
  • When the dog was trying to protect its home against a trespasser on the property or preventing a crime from occurring on the property

Beyond the owner, there might be others that can be responsible for paying compensation for dog bite injuries. The statute says that anyone who “harbors” a dog can be liable. This may mean that a property owner who leases their property to a tenant who owns a vicious dog may be liable if they knew the tenant had a vicious dog on their property.

How DeMore Law Firm, PLLC, Can Help

Are you a victim of a dog bite injury in New York? If you have any questions regarding a potential dog bite claim, call DeMore Law Firm, PLLC. The help of experienced and diligent personal injury attorneys can make all the difference in getting you your maximum compensation. Call us today for a free consultation where we can hear the details of your case and help you make informed decisions about the best course of action in your circumstances. Reach out to us online or call us at 315-413-7000.