Everyone has heard the phrase “A dog is a man’s best friend.” And while that may be true in some cases, in others, a dog can be a vicious adversary. When someone else’s dog aggressively attacks and injures you, you may have a valid case against the dog’s owner for negligence, entitling you to damages.
If you have been attacked by a dog or other animal, contact our dog bite attorneys in Queens today. The Cassisi Law Firm proudly offers free consultations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year, with over 850,000 of these bites requiring medical treatment. Insurance companies pay out over $1 billion annually to cover the costs of dog bite injuries.
A little less than half of dog bite injuries are to hands or arms, another quarter are to legs or feet, and almost a quarter are to the head or neck. Dogs can carry dangerous diseases such as rabies or parvovirus, and dog bite injuries can cause permanent scars, physical disfigurement, or even disability. Dog attacks can also cause emotional and psychological trauma.
The victims most likely to suffer the worst are the elderly and young children, who may lack the strength or know-how to fend off a dog attack, and who are also the most physically vulnerable. According to the American Humane Association, half of all dog attacks involve children less than 12 years old, seven-tenths of all dog attack fatalities are to children under 10, and over three-quarters of all dog bite emergency room visits involve children under 15.
New York’s dog bite laws are codified in Agriculture and Markets Law, Sections 120 and 121. The law addresses many details, including explaining the criminal liability that may attach for dog attacks. One important point to note is that New York imposes strict liability on dog owners for the medical costs incurred due to injuries inflicted by their dogs. However, the law is more complex when it comes to seeking other damages.
All dog owners owe a duty to the public to prevent their dogs from harming others. But to impose liability for negligence upon a dog’s owner or custodian, New York operates under the “one bite” rule. Basically, the rule holds that an owner is negligent, and therefore can be held liable for all the injuries caused by a dog, only if the owner knew or had reason to know that his dog had dangerous tendencies.
Although the rule is frequently described as giving a dog one “free” bite before liability attaches (that is, a dog does not pose a danger until he bites a person but, after that, the owner should know that he has a “dangerous dog”), the law does not strictly operate that way. There may be other indications besides biting—such as growling, snapping, baring teeth, or exhibiting other aggressive or threatening behavior—that would prove that the owner knew he had a dangerous dog. Additionally, the law applies to other behaviors that may cause injury, such as jumping up and knocking people down. Further, the law provides that recovery may be available not only for injuries to people, but to farm animals, companion animals (such as guide dogs), and pets.
There are also some important exceptions in the law. For example, even a “dangerous dog” attack will not give rise to liability if, at the time of the injury, the dog was defending itself, its offspring, its owner, or another person from attack, or if the “victim” was bitten while breaking into the dog owner’s home for criminal purposes.
Depending upon the circumstances, New York’s dog bite laws may allow an individual to sue a dog’s owner for damages resulting from a dog attack. We offer a free consultation to Queens residents and others to help find out if they may have a case. We also have represented numerous clients throughout the Bronx and Brooklyn, as well as in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, in a broad variety of personal injury cases.
For your free consultation, contact us at 718-441-5050, or use our contact form.