Beware of dog bites and the liability that comes with them

dreamstime m 140780405

Beware of dog bites and the liability that comes with them. As the weather warms and New Yorkers who have been cooped up by the pandemic spend more time outdoors, you can see pets everywhere. With more socialization comes a heightened risk of dog bites. If you’ve suffered an injury after being bitten by a dog, or you’re defending a claim that your canine lashed out and caused the injury of someone else, it’s smart to consult with an experienced New York dog bite lawyer.

What you need to know about New York dog bite laws

Under New York’s “one bite” law, a dog owner is only held liable for dog bites when the owner knew that the dog was likely to bite in the first place. Essentially, the dog gets one free pass, unless the owner was aware of a prior attack or the animal otherwise displayed “vicious tendencies.” The courts have defined vicious propensities as a tendency “to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation,” but this is a broad term.

Examples might be frightening people by chasing them, barking viciously behind a backyard gate, a history of jumping on people, the animal has been trained to fight, or the dog has been known to growl, snap or bare its teeth.

New York recognizes some exceptions to this strict liability, such as when someone provokes the dog by assaulting the animal or its owner. The owner is also not liable in the event someone trespasses on their property and gets attacked, and this is true even if the dog has a vicious track record.

New York dog bite lawsuits

When the victim of a dog bite sues the pet owner, it is the burden of the plaintiff to establish that the defendant owner of the dog knew or should have known of the animal’s vicious propensities. Proving this foreknowledge of a vicious temperament can be tricky and this is best journeyed with the experienced animal attack attorneys at Stanley Law.

New York dog bite laws make the owner of a vicious dog strictly liable for the victim’s medical and veterinary costs, and these costs can be substantial. The CDC estimates that one in five victims of dog bites require medical attention. This can be as minor as treating infection and as serious as disfigurement, amputation, or even death. The psychological toll of being attacked by a dog can have long-lasting consequences, as well.

If you have been injured by a dog and seek compensation, or if you are an owner or keeper who has been sued because your dog has bitten someone, it is prudent to seek the guidance of attorneys with vast experience in personal injury cases.

A word for dog owners

K-9’s may be man’s best friend, but it’s important to understand they are first animals and no matter how playful your hooch is, their behavior may be difficult to predict when certain circumstances arise. For example, many dogs are possessive of their food. You should not let children or other people approach your dog while he or she is eating or affixed on other items or activities he or she enjoys.

Believe it or not, dogs have body language

Also like humans, dogs have body language and there are telltale signs your dog is agitated or unforgettable. Aside from growling, think heavy panting, tail tucked, or ears pinned-back. Dog owners and keepers should also give their companions plenty of exercise to release all that pent up energy. Keep them cool and hydrated so they are not put in a stressful situation that can trigger a dog bite, and you might want to hire a professional trainer to modify any alarming behaviors.

Of course, you can avoid many dog bite incidents by keeping your pet on a collar and leash when around other people. Contrary to popular belief, New York State has no statewide lease law.  That’s up to local counties and municipalities. Some local laws have nuances – please take the time to understand the lay of the land but always take common sensible precautions.

Like most other matters we handle at Stanley Law, please be aware of your surroundings and be safe. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, dog bites and other injurious events can occur. While you don’t know what’s around the corner, you need to know what to do next.