The compensation you may receive after a dog bite could depend on your injuries. The Insurance Information Institute noted that dog bite claims filed by New York residents during 2021 resulted in a combined amount exceeding $61 million. New York also accounted for the highest average settlement amount. You are not, however, limited to dealing with insurance carriers after a dog bite; filing a lawsuit could prove the animal’s owner liable for your damages.
Injuries Caused by All Breeds Could Qualify for Compensation
Any dog breed could bite, and your lawsuit does not need to show that an animal had a natural tendency to attack. Under New York State law, insurance carriers cannot restrict or limit a homeowner policy’s coverage because of a canine’s breed. Breeds such as pit bulls, for example, have developed their reputation for aggression due to extensive media coverage of their attacks. Severe pit bull attacks, however, often result in a need for emergency surgery, and some injuries may require several years of reconstructive procedures.
While some pit bull owners train their pets to fight, other breeds such as Golden Retrievers have established a reputation for friendliness. Insurance carriers, however, reportedly paid out more than $850 million in dog bite claims during 2021 for injuries from attacks by breeds other than pit bulls. Regardless of the breed, dog owners or their insurance carriers may need to provide compensation for damages even if their “friendly” animals were suddenly provoked or became frightened.
Dog Bite Reports Could Help Win Lawsuits in Manhattan
If you suffer a dog bite attack in Manhattan, New York City requires you to report the event no more than 24 hours after it occurs. You will need to submit a confidential report of the event online and include the date the bite occurred; you could also note the dog’s breed or colors to help officials identify it. You may keep a copy of the report with your medical bills as evidence of the attack.
A dog bite report could help to discover information about the canine that attacked you. New York City health officials may have records of an animal’s previous bites or recognize that the dog poses a threat to public safety. Through the city’s database of reported injuries, you may learn about an animal, its owner or its recorded history of attacks. Owners have a duty of care to prevent their dogs from biting, and a repeat incident could make a difference in how the court approaches your lawsuit.
New York’s Strict Liability Rule for Dog Owners
A legal action could help you hold a canine’s owner responsible for your injuries. As detailed by New York State Senate Assembly Bill A2575A, dog owners have strict liability to pay for medical expenses resulting from their animals’ bites. The dog’s owner could pay for health care costs such as hospitalization, reconstructive surgery and prescriptions.
You may, for example, need to visit an emergency room and receive treatment immediately after a dog attacked you. The Cleveland Clinic recommends treating wounds no later than eight hours after the bite occurs. Canine saliva contains strains of bacteria such as streptococcus, staphylococcus or pasteurella. When a dog bite breaks the skin, harmful bacteria could enter your system. Regardless of a puncture’s size or depth, canine bites could lead to infections requiring powerful antibiotics. Your doctor may also test you for the rabies virus or administer a tetanus shot.
Dog Owners May Need To Pay for Harm Inflicted on Other Animals
As described by Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical Center, U.S. law generally considers domestic pets as property. Similar to other types of property, you may receive compensation if a dog attacked your pet or service animal; you may then file a lawsuit to hold a dog’s owner liable for the cost of “repairing” or “replacing” your property.
The bills for taking your pet to a veterinarian after a dog attack, for example, may qualify for reimbursement of the expenses needed to “repair” personal property. When a canine kills an animal, however, its owner may have liability to pay for the cost to replace it, which could equal a deceased pet’s fair market value. The court may consider compensation for trained companion, support or “show” animals by their commercial worth.
Compensation May Cover More Than the Physical Damages
When a canine has a known history of aggressive behavior, you may file a legal action against its owner for breaching a duty of care. A reasonably foreseeable injury that a careless dog owner or handler could have prevented may result in additional compensation. In this case, the court may award financial relief in an amount that exceeds your medical expenses. Your complaint, however, may need to demonstrate that the owner knew – or should have known – that the dog could attack.
Evidence that an owner knew of a dog’s tendency to bite could include warning signs or a locked gate. If an attack occurred outside, the canine’s owner or handler may have lost control by letting go of its leash. Construction or other visible blockages on a sidewalk, for instance, should alert dog handlers of the need to exert greater control over an animal to avoid mishaps. You may take pictures of the scene of a dog bite event to provide evidence of how a dog owner lost control over the animal that attacked you.
New York’s Statutes Define Dogs With Attack Histories As Dangerous
New York State law defines a dangerous dog as one that attacks an individual or a companion animal without justification. If the canine causes serious injuries or death, it may classify as dangerous. The law also considers dogs “dangerous” when they attack farm animals or livestock for no reason. If a dog’s behavior causes a reasonable person to believe that it poses an unjustified and imminent threat to humans or other animals, the law may regard it as dangerous. When a canine kills or injures a guide, hearing or service dog trained to assist a person with a disability, it also falls into the dangerous category.
As noted by the New York State Bar, reporting a dangerous dog attack may require attending a court hearing. A judge may review your evidence and hear your testimony to determine if enough probable cause exists to classify a dog as dangerous. In some cases, an official may remove a dog from its owner to prevent further injuries after a judge deems it dangerous.
Filing a Legal Action After a Dog Bite Incident
New York law provides up to three years from the date of a dog bite to file a legal action. A dog’s owner, however, may defend the animal’s actions and attempt to avoid liability. Canines trained to assist law enforcement officials, for example, have lawful exemptions from events causing injuries. Dogs acting to protect their owners, home or pups may also avoid culpability for an attack. If a dog experienced abuse or acted in self-defense, its actions may not result in its owner incurring liability for injuries.
After filing a lawsuit, the court may review your medical records to determine the amount of compensation to award. The court may also award additional compensation for lost wages or pain and suffering. Find out what you deserve as compensation for your injuries. You can contact an experienced dog bite attorney on the Cellino Law team to schedule a no-fee consultation.