WHEN OWNERS MAY BE HELD LIABLE
In essentially all scenarios, there must be proof that the owner knew their animal’s prior behavior could lead to an attack. Here are some reasons a court may hold the owner liable:
- If The Animal Has Bitten Before – This pertains to the “One Bite” Law – proof that the owner was aware that their dog or animal has bitten before
- If The Animal Displayed Prior Vicious, Frightening Behavior – For example, there must be proof that the dog often barks viciously behind a backyard gate as if it’s willing to attack, or chases others to the point where they are frightened
- If The Animal Often Jumps On People – If the owner knows that the animal often jumps on others, it’s their responsibility to prevent their dog or animal from knocking others over (crucial if a plaintiff’s injuries were due to an animal knocking them over)
- If The Animal Has Been Trained To Fight – A court will likely hold the owner responsible if the animal has been trained by the owner to fight since the owner fully knows their dog or animal is dangerous and can be violent
- If There Are Prior Complaints – If neighbors have reported complaints about the dog or animal’s vicious behavior, especially if it has bitten before or tends to be violent
An experienced Dog Bite Attorney or Animal Attack Attorney will be able to prove liability and get their client the maximum compensation they deserve.
WHEN OWNERS MAY NOT BE HELD LIABLE
There are instances when owners aren’t held liable, including but not limited to these circumstances:
- If The Dog Has Never Bitten Before (To Owner’s Knowledge) – The “One Bite” law states that if the owner has no knowledge whatsoever that the dog has bitten before, they are not liable
- If The Plaintiff Was Trespassing – If the plaintiff was on the owner’s property without their consent, even if the dog has bitten before, the owner may not be held liable
- If The Plaintiff Provoked The Attack – If the plaintiff’s behavior legitimately provoked the animal into attacking (ie. an attempt to assault the animal or its owner)
An experienced Dog Bite Attorney or Animal Attack Attorney is essential in fighting these defenses.
LONG ISLAND DOG BITE LAWYER
Each day about one thousand people in the United States require emergency room treatment as a result of dog bites. There are many reasons a dog may lash out and bite a person. It may be a reaction to a stressful situation. The dog may be scared or feel threatened. They may be very possessive in nature. No matter what the reason, if you are bitten and injured by another person’s dog, you may have a claim against the dog owner.
However, New York has one of the most lenient dog bite laws in the country. In order for a dog owner to be responsible for injuries caused by their report dog bites, it must be proven that the dog had exhibited prior vicious propensities. If prior vicious propensities cannot be established then there is no liability on the dog owner’s part. There are many ways to establish prior vicious propensities and an experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to investigate the issue. Palermo Law is a Long Island Personal Injury Law Firm dedicated to representing individuals that have suffered serious dog bites as a result of a negligent dog owner.
WHEN TO CONSULT WITH A LONG ISLAND PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
Not all accidents require the assistance of an accident attorney. But if you have been injured from a dog, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney before discussing your case with the representative from the property owner. Often, a personal injury attorney can protect your legal rights, recoup compensation for lost wages and medical bills, and obtain a settlement for your pain and suffering.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
The value of an injury suffered in a dog bite is an accumulation of several different factors. These include any accident-related economic expenses such as lost wages, as well as non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. At Palermo Law, our experience in handling thousands of accident cases allows us to accurately assess the value of your case to determine the fairest settlement or jury award. In cases of long-term injuries, we partner with experts in the fields of medicine and economics to make sure that your compensation is adjusted for future inflation. This allows you the peace of mind knowing that you will be compensated for years to come.
WHY HIRE PALERMO LAW?
- We always offer a free no-obligation consultation.
- We never charge a fee unless we win your case.
- We provide personal one on one attention to every client.
- We handle all no-fault insurance communications and paperwork for you free of charge.
- We have over two decades of experience litigating car accident cases on Long Island.
- We have obtained numerous million-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients.
We are a true accident litigation law firm. With two decades of experience, Premises Liability Attorney Steven Palermo heads the legal team at Palermo Law. He personally handles each client’s accident case from its inception through a conclusion. He has litigated hundreds of personal injury cases and won several million-dollar verdicts and settlements for his clients. He has a passion for helping injured people find justice in their fight against large multi-million-dollar insurance companies that try and minimize his client’s injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as a result of another person’s negligence and would like to schedule a free case evaluation from an experienced Long Island Slip and Fall and Trip and Fall Accident Attorney, call or email us today.
What happens if my dog bites someone? We can also arrange an in-home or hospital consultation with you. Further, we handle all Long Island dog bite cases on a contingency basis meaning we never charge a fee unless we win your case.
1. Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack, or in the case of a minor, an adult acting on behalf of such minor, may make a complaint of dog attacked my dog upon and a person, companion animal as defined in section three hundred fifty of this chapter, farm animal as defined in such section three hundred fifty, or a domestic animal as defined in subdivision seven of section one hundred eight of this article to a dog control officer or police officer of the appropriate municipality. Such an officer shall immediately inform the complainant of his or her right to commence a proceeding as provided in subdivision two of this section and, if there is reason to believe the dog is a dangerous dog, the officer shall forthwith commence such proceeding himself or herself.
2. Any person who witnesses an attack or threatened attack, or in the case of a minor, an adult acting on behalf of such minor, may, and any dog control officer or police officer as provided in subdivision one of this section shall make a complaint under oath or affirmation to any municipal judge or a justice of such attack or threatened attack. Thereupon, the judge or justice shall immediately determine if there is probable cause to believe the dog is a dangerous my dog bit someone should I put him down and, if so, shall issue an order to any dog control officer, peace officer, acting pursuant to his or her special duties, or police officer directing such officer to immediately seize such dog and hold the same pending judicial determination as provided in this section. Whether or not the judge or justice finds there is probable cause for such seizure, he or she shall, within five days and upon written notice of not less than two days to the owner of the dog, hold a hearing on the complaint. The petitioner shall have the burden at such hearing to prove the dog is a “dangerous dog” by clear and convincing evidence. If satisfied that the dog is a dangerous dog, the judge or justice shall then order neutering or spaying of the dog, microchipping of the dog and one or more of the following as deemed appropriate under the circumstances and as deemed necessary for the protection of the public:
(a) evaluation of the dog by a certified applied behaviorist, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, or another recognized expert in the field and completion of training or other treatment as deemed appropriate by such expert. The owner of the dog shall be responsible for all costs associated with evaluations and training ordered under this section;
(b) secure, humane confinement of the dog for a period of time and in a manner deemed appropriate by the court but in all instances in a manner designed to (1) prevent the escape of the dog, (2) protect the public from unauthorized contact with the dog, and (3) to protect the dog from the elements pursuant to section three hundred fifty-three-b of this chapter. Such confinement shall not include lengthy periods of tying or chaining;
(c) restraint of the dog on a leash by an adult of at least twenty-one years of age whenever the dog is on public premises;
(d) muzzling the dog whenever it is on public premises in a manner that will prevent it from biting any person or animal, but that shall not injure the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration; or
(e) maintenance of a liability insurance policy in an amount determined by the court, but in no event in excess of one hundred thousand dollars for personal injury or death resulting from an attack by such dangerous dog.
3. Upon a finding that a dog is dangerous, the judge or justice may order humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of the dog if one of the following aggravating circumstances is established at the judicial hearing held pursuant to subdivision two of this section:
(a) the dog, without justification, attacked a person causing serious physical injury or death; or
(b) the dog has a known vicious propensity as evidenced by a previous unjustified attack on a person, which caused serious physical injury or death; or
(c) the dog, without justification, caused serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal, and has, in the past two years, caused unjustified physical injury or death to a companion or farm animal as evidenced by a “dangerous dog” finding pursuant to the provisions of this section. An order of humane euthanasia shall not be carried out until expiration of the thirty day period provided for in subdivision five of this section for filing a notice of appeal unless the owner of the dog has indicated to the judge in writing, his or her intention to waive his or her right to appeal. Upon filing a notice of appeal, the order shall automatically stay pending the outcome of the appeal.
4. My dog bit someone shall not be declared dangerous if the court determines the conduct of my dog bit another dog (a) was justified because the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who at the time was committing a crime or offense upon the owner or custodian of the dog or upon the property of the owner or custodian of the dog; (b) was justified because the injured, threatened or killed person was tormenting, abusing, assaulting or physically threatening the dog or its offspring, or has in the past tormented, abused, assaulted or physically threatened the dog or its offspring; (c) was justified because the dog was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its owner, custodian, or a member of its household, its kennels or its offspring; or was justified because the injured, threatened or killed companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal was attacking or threatening to attack the dog or its offspring. What to do if your dog bites someone? Testimony of a certified applied behaviorist, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, or another recognized expert shall be relevant to the court’s determination as to whether the dog’s behavior was justified pursuant to the provisions of this subdivision.
5. (a) The owner of a dog found to be a “dangerous dog” pursuant to this section may appeal such determination, and/or the court’s order concerning the disposition of the dog to the court having jurisdiction to hear civil appeals in the county where the “dangerous dog” finding was made. The owner shall commence such appeal by filing a notice of appeal with the appropriate court within thirty days of the final order pursuant to this section. Court rules governing civil appeals in the appropriate jurisdiction shall govern the appeal of a determination under this section.
(b) Upon filing a notice of appeal from an order of humane euthanasia pursuant to this section, such order shall automatically stay pending final determination of any appeal. In all other circumstances, the owner of the dog may make an application to the court to issue a stay of disposition pending the determination of the appeal.
6. The owner of a dog who, through any act or omission, negligently permits his or her dog to bite a person, service dog, guide dog or hearing dog causing physical injury shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed four hundred dollars in addition to any other applicable penalties.
7. The owner of a dog who, through any act or omission, negligently permits his or her dog to bite a person causing serious physical injury shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand five hundred dollars in addition to any other applicable penalties. What happens if your dog bites someone? Any such penalty may be reduced by any amount which is paid as restitution by the owner of the dog to the person or persons suffering serious physical injury as compensation for unreimbursed medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages resulting from such injury.
8. The owner of a dog who, through any act or omission, negligently permits his or her dog, which had previously been determined to be dangerous pursuant to this article, to bite a person causing serious physical injury, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars, or by a period of imprisonment not to exceed ninety days, or by both such fine and imprisonment in addition to any other applicable penalties. What happens after a dog bite is reported? Any such fine may be reduced by any amount which is paid as restitution by the owner of the dog to the person or persons suffering serious physical injury as compensation for unreimbursed medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages resulting from such injury.
9. If any dog, which had previously been determined by a judge or justice to be a dangerous dog, as defined in section one hundred eight of this article, shall without justification kill or cause the death of any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, regardless of whether such dog escapes without fault of the owner, the owner shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor in addition to any other penalties.
10. The owner or lawful custodian of a dangerous dog shall, except in the circumstances enumerated in subdivisions four and eleven of this section, be strictly liable for medical costs resulting from injury caused by such dog to a person, companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal.
11. The owner shall not be liable pursuant to subdivision six, seven, eight, nine or ten of this section if the dog was coming to the aid or defense of a person during the commission or attempted commission of a murder, robbery, burglary, arson, rape in the first degree as defined in subdivision one or two of section 130.35 of the penal law, a criminal sexual act in the first degree as defined in subdivision one or two of section 130.50 of the penal law or kidnapping within the dwelling or upon the real property of the owner of the dog and the dog injured or killed the person committing such criminal activity.
12. Nothing contained in this section shall limit or abrogate any claim or cause of action any person who is injured by a dog with a vicious disposition or a vicious propensity may have under common law or by statute. The provisions of this section shall be in addition to such common law and statutory remedies.
13. Nothing contained in this section shall restrict the rights and powers derived from the provisions of title four of article twenty-one of the public health law relating to rabies and any rule and regulation adopted pursuant thereto.
14. Persons owning, possessing, or harboring dangerous dogs shall report the presence of such dangerous dogs pursuant to section two hundred nine-cc of the general municipal law.
What happens if your dog bites another dog? Every dog has the propensity to bite. Yes, even yours! By exiting the door of your apartment, you’ve accepted the risk that you or your dog could get bitten by someone else’s dog. Do you understand NY Dog Bite Law?
As inhabitants of congested NYC, we have a great responsibility to properly socialize and train our dogs to reduce the risk of bites. It’s also our responsibility to know our rights and our responsibilities. Even when we do our very best to be responsible dog owners, bites happen. After a bite incident, I always get a panicked email asking not only about behavior modification but about legal consequences.
To help you be the most prepared NYC citizen you can be, I’ve spoken to personal injury lawyer Tom Moverman to ask him what you need to know to protect yourself and your dog. His answers might not be what you’re expecting.
LL: A bite has just happened. What should the owner of the biting dog do immediately?
TM: The owner of the dog, as well as the victim, should judge the medical complications of the dog bite. As stressful as that situation may be, it is important to remain calm. Thereafter, both parties need to exchange names, insurance information, as well as the dog’s vaccination history. If there are witnesses nearby, it’s important to get witness testimonies, as well as their contact information.
LL: What should the victim do immediately?
TM: A victim must seek medical help as soon as possible and thereafter the victim needs to document their wounds, if possible, include pictures of the wounds and pictures of the dog that bit them. If pictures of the animal or even wounds, are not possible in that time, provide a description of the dog including the dog’s breed, color, size, and any other identifying features.
Furthermore, a victim needs to report their dog bite attack, depending on which part of New York the victim resides, there will be different places to report these injuries to e.g. the local SPCA or local police department. Contact a New York dog bite attorney, even if your dog bite incident results in a pending lawsuit or an insurance claim, it is recommended that you contact an attorney.
LL: What protections exist under the law to protect dogs that have bitten a person after the dog was provoked?
TM: Under New York law if a dog attacked out of provocation, New York’s dog bite law allows for several defenses that the dog owner can use in a civil liability claim. Some of those defenses include:
- The dog attacked while trying to protect its home against a trespasser(s) or someone who was not on legally allowed on the property and or was attempting a criminal activity on the property.
- The dog was trying to protect its owner or even its own puppies when the attack took place.
- The dog was reacting to pain or suffering it experienced when it bit someone.
- The dog was provoked when it was being tormented, abused, or assaulted by the offending injured party.
LL: Is there ever a “no-fault” bite case as there are for car accidents?
TM: New York is a “mixed state” and there is no one specific statute that governs personal injury liability for dog bites. Being a mixed-state means that New York has a dog bite statute that mixes the one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability. If the person injured can show that the owner “should have known [sic]” their dog was dangerous, then the owner will be held liable for injuries caused by the dog. But there isn’t a no-fault law per se.
LL: If it’s shown that the dog has a medical condition that caused a bite to happen and the medical condition is treated (example: seizures), would that change the outcome for the dog?
TM: With New York being a “mixed-state” means that it has a dog bite statute that mixes the one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability, this might be difficult to change the outcome especially if the owner knew that the dog had a condition that might make it dangerous to other people.
LL: When should the owner of an aggressive dog call a lawyer? What type of lawyer should they look for?
TM: As a dog owner, if your dog bites someone you could be faced with a personal injury lawsuit or claim brought forward by the injured person and you could be charged with a misdemeanor, which is legally known as ‘harboring a dangerous dog’ among other charges. The best type of lawyer to help you, in this case, is an attorney who deals with animal law cases.
LL: When should the victim of a dog bite call a lawyer? What type of lawyer should they look for?
TM: It’s best for the victim of a dog bite to contact a lawyer as soon as possible and before speaking to the liable parties such as the insurance agency representing the dog owner. However, before referring to the insurance company to your lawyer, be sure to have the insurance company’s name, contact information, and case claim number.
A victim should, by all means, try to decline to answer additional questions, settlement offers, or meeting dates. Knowing this means that the dog bite victim needs to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible in order to secure the best possible compensation. A personal injury lawyer with experience with the victim’s dog state laws is the starting point for the kind of lawyer to look for.
LL: What is the one-bite law?
TM: The one-bite law or rule simply put means that the dog only gets “one free bite” before it gets its owner in legal trouble. However, that one free bite under the one-bite rule also means that the dog owner is held liable for injuries the dog causes IF the owner knew or had some reason to know that the dog is capable of causing that kind of injury. New York is a mixed state and under New York law, liability for dog owners for injuries is mixed with the one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability as previously mentioned. This also makes it difficult to prove a case that requires the victim to hire an experienced attorney.
LL: What is the legal definition of a “dangerous dog”?
TM: The legal definition of a dangerous dog can be classified as a dog that is “dangerous” or “vicious” because of its breed, actions, or the actions of its owner, either before or after an official hearing, according to the law of the jurisdiction where the dog resides.
LL: What legally constitutes a bite? Does severity matter, and if so, by how much?
TM: Legally a dog can be seen as harmful if it bites, jumps, slams against, swipes its paws, or is over-friendly and jumps up on someone. Severity caused by these actions will matter as additional compensation is dictated by the severity of the victim’s injuries and other details from the incident in question. Severe injuries are physical injuries that result in fractures, amputations, lacerations, puncture wounds, disfigurement as well as bruises, flesh wounds, and other minor injuries. There are also infections, illnesses, and other long-term medical treatments to consider when dog bites or attacks happen.
LL: What do dog training and dog behavior consultant professionals need to know?
TM: For dog training and dog behavior professionals, it’s important to have a contract put together that protects you from liability should a dog bite occur with an animal in your care.
LL: What do you wish all NYC dog owners would know about existing dog bite laws?
TM: It is important for all NYC dog owners to know that there is no “one free bite” in New York and to understand the mixed state laws of New York dog bite liability.
Change the dog bite law of New York
New York needs to move into the 20th Century (it was in that century that most of the strict liability dog bite laws were enacted). Although it is thought of as a liberal state, New York’s dog bite laws are almost exactly the same ones that were created in the 17th century by British judges for the quaint English countryside. The highest court of New York has even ruled that there is no such thing as dog owner negligence. Reliance on the one-bite rule is completely wrong, in modern New York or any other American state, because when the one bite rule was established there were no pit bulls, the practice of dogfighting had not been invented, there was no insurance industry to spread the risks, and there was no USA with its focus on fairness and human rights. All those things have changed, and that is why dogs have lost their right to bite in most states.
New York needs a strict liability law like that of nearby New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire has a law pertaining to canine-inflicted injuries that covers any cause of damage by a dog and applies to injuries to not only humans but also any form of property, including another dog or cat. (The text of the statute is set forth at the New Hampshire section of dogbitelaw.com.) Such a law is worth fighting for.