How Bad Does A Dog Bite Have To Be To Sue?

How Bad Does A Dog Bite Have To Be To Sue?

It is important to understand the legal consequences of a dog bite. Each state has specific requirements that determine when a dog bite can lead to a lawsuit. These requirements include factors such as the injury’s severity, the victim’s actions and the owner’s knowledge of their pet’s aggressive tendencies.

Knowing the details of New York’s laws can help you determine how severe an animal bite must be to warrant a lawsuit.

New York’s Dog Bite Laws

This state’s laws regarding dog bites are unique, as they combine elements of strict liability and negligence. Knowing the regulations can help you understand if you can file a legal claim.

Strict Liability

This law means the pet owner is liable for any medical and veterinary costs from a bite injury. Owners must pay these expenses even if they use reasonable care to restrain or control their pets.


For all other damages related to a dog attack, New York follows the concept of negligence. If the owner knew the animal’s aggressive behaviors and did not attempt to warn or protect others, this statute holds them responsible. Known as the “one-bite” rule, it does not apply to a first-time dog bite incident.

Dangerous Dog Statute

New York’s Agriculture & Markets Law Section 123 addresses dangerous dogs. Anyone witnessing an attack can file a complaint with authorities, leading to a hearing to determine if the pet is dangerous. If deemed dangerous, the court can order measures like confinement, training or euthanasia.

Exceptions exist if the animal acted to protect itself or others or during criminal activities. Owners of dangerous dogs are responsible for medical costs. The law requires reporting their presence and does not limit other legal remedies for injuries caused by these animals.

Statute of Limitations

You have a legal right to seek compensation after an animal attack. However, there is a deadline for bringing a civil case to court in New York. For personal injury cases, including dog bite lawsuits, you must file your claim within three years of the date of injury.

Connecticut Laws Regarding Dog Bites

Connecticut is a strict liability state. It does not operate under a “one-bite” rule. Owners are automatically responsible for their dogs’ behavior. You do not have to prove that the owner was irresponsible to seek damages in a legal claim.

Exceptions to the strict liability rule occur if the victim is trespassing on private property or abusing the animal at the time of the incident. These exceptions do not apply to children under seven.

In this state, the statute of limitations to file a dog bite case is generally two years from the incident.

Lawyers Can Offer Assistance

Attorneys can provide help in a dog bite claim in several ways. They can help establish who is responsible for the dog that caused your injuries. They can use their legal knowledge to determine liability in your case and collect evidence to offer proof. This process enables you to build a strong legal case.

A pet owner’s homeowners insurance may cover dog bite incidents. Lawyers know how to negotiate with the insurance agency on your behalf. Experienced legal professionals know how to ensure you get fair compensation based on the circumstances of your incident.

When you work with lawyers, they can make sure you meet required deadlines and comply with court procedures. They will help you file your claim. If necessary, attorneys can represent you in court.

Steps Following a Dog Bite

If a dog bites you, there are several steps to take:

  • Identify the dog owner and get the person’s name and address. This information helps preserve your right to sue if the bite requires expensive medical treatment.
  • Seek medical attention to ensure proper injury care. In New York City, the owner can observe the dog for ten days for signs of rabies.
  • Report the incident to the local authorities, such as the police, sheriff’s office or animal control. In Connecticut, you must report the event to the region where the owner keeps the dog.
  • Document any details. Take photos of your injuries, torn clothing or damaged property. Write down what happened and get the contact information of any witnesses.

Discuss the animal attack with a personal injury lawyer. A knowledgeable legal professional can help determine whether you should sue the pet owner.

Types of Damages

In a dog bite lawsuit, you can potentially recover compensation for several kinds of damages:

Medical Bills

Getting compensation for medical costs is a primary concern in your case. These include expenses you have already paid, such as emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications and physical therapy. It also includes anticipated future medical costs. Gather evidence such as medical bills, receipts and records detailing your injuries and necessary treatments. Recovering medical expenses alleviates financial burdens and ensures access to the health care needed for your recovery and well-being.

Lost Wages

In a dog bite claim, recovering lost wages can be crucial if your injuries result in missed work and income loss. Thorough documentation is essential to pursue compensation for lost wages. Keep medical records detailing your injuries and how they affect your ability to work. Also, provide proof of your employment and income before the incident.

Reduced Earning Capacity

If your physical or psychological injuries prevent you from returning to work, a lawsuit can recover compensation for this expense. Demonstrating the attack’s impact on earning potential requires thorough documentation, including medical assessments, vocational evaluations and expert testimony to assess the long-term effects on your ability to work. You can obtain financial support to adapt to your circumstances by securing compensation for reduced earning capacity. This process helps maintain your quality of life despite the challenges posed by the incident.

Physical Pain or Mental Suffering

You may also be able to recover compensation for ongoing pain or trauma following a dog attack. Damages can include emotional distress, which can manifest as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Property Damage

If the dog damages your property, such as clothing, personal belongings or your home, you may be able to get compensation to cover the cost of repair or replacement. This process involves taking photographs and keeping receipts for related expenses.

Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite attacks can result in various wounds. Some common injuries that occur include:

  • Skin and soft tissue wounds – dog’s teeth and jaws can crush or tear muscles or skin
  • Broken bones
  • Eye injuries
  • Head and neck injuries – these can be particularly dangerous as they are close to vital organs and major blood vessels
  • Infections – animal bites can introduce bacteria, which is typically the most significant concern after an attack
  • Disfigurement – bites often leave scars of varying severity

It is important to seek medical attention immediately after a dog bites you to minimize the risk of infection and adequately treat any injuries.

Working With a Trusted Attorney

Following a dog bite incident, a lawyer can champion your rights and help you get just compensation. At Cellino Law in New York, our team can help you navigate the legal intricacies, evaluate liability and collect evidence to bolster your case. Our lawyers are well-versed in the laws and regulations about dog ownership. Get in touch with us to learn how we can assist you in deciding your course of action.



Free Case Review



  • It was a great pleasure working with you on my lawsuit. You certainly gave 150% of your time and interest in settling my case and for that, I am extremely grateful. Therefore, I want to thank you very much for helping me win my settlement and wish you the very best.


  • Thank you for your efforts on my behalf. I am very pleased (and surprised) at the amount of the settlement. We will use the funds to help pay down the debt on the truck we had to purchase after ours was totaled. Thank you again.


  • I highly recommend Cellino Law to anyone involved in a car crash. I worked with Michael Lovecchio, and had a wonderful experience given the circumstances. He was very attentive, and got the best possible outcome I could have wanted.


  • I am writing this letter to say how much I appreciate your services pertaining to my case. Your injury attorney took a hands-on approach and left me fully informed at all times as to where my case was going as well as how much ground we had to cover; leaving the final decisions in my hands but making sure that I knew all of the risks involved in the choices. I have dealt with a few law firms in my life on various different cases and this is the first time that I never had to call and/or track down my lawyer… because of this, I have and will continue to recommend Cellino Law to my friends and associates.


  • I am writing to let you know what an outstanding job George Gridelli did for me in my personal injury lawsuit. His professionalism and expertise were evident at our first metting and he and his paralegal Diane D'Andrea took care of me as if I was a friend and not merely a client. They both went above and beyond for me in so many ways that it would be too numerous to list and I am grateful to have had such an exemplary team represent me. When working with George and watching him in court he personified to me what a lawyer is supposed to be - an honest, extremely compentent man who helped guide me through the legal system. I could not have obtained better representation anywhere else at any price. To me that says a lot abut you and your firm's integrity. Thank you again for representing me and for having such stellar individuals working for you! I will continue to recommend your firm.


  • Thank you for your time, effort, and hard work on my case. I appreciate your expertise and compassion. I never experienced what I went through and I would have been completely lost without you.