Every state has different laws for a dog bite injury. However, two basic kinds of laws exist in every state: liability when the dog owner knew or should have known the dog might bite another person and a liability despite what the owner knew or should have known.
If you were recently bitten by a dog (no matter the severity of your injuries), make sure you get medical help and contact a dog bite attorney in New York.
”One Bite” Laws
Before the twentieth century, a dog owner was only liable if their dog has bitten someone if the owner had reason to know the dog might bite. This was the “one bite” rule because it meant that a dog was allowed “one free bite” before its owner would get in legal trouble.
Today the one bite rule doesn’t surely allow a dog one free bite. If the dog owner knows the breed he owns is dangerous, or if their dog is prone to biting because of its general character or recent events, the owner could be liable for the dog’s first bite.
For example, if a relatively aggressive dog recently had surgery and the owner did not warn their house guest that the dog is easily irritable, the owner might be liable if the house guest worsened the area of the dog’s surgery and was afterward bitten.
If the owner knew or should have known the dog might bite is a very complicated question. The plaintiff will have to give enough evidence to convince the jury it was “more likely than not” the defendant knew or should have known about their dog ending up biting. Also, the defendant will have to prove that the plaintiff’s evidence is not enough or they will have to provide different evidence.
The plaintiff will have to include circumstantial evidence such as the dog’s breed, what the owner used the dog for (i.e. protection, service dog), how the owner disciplined the dog, neighbors’ experience with the dog, and warnings from the owner. Also, good evidence would be if the plaintiff shows how greatly the owner held the dog.
Strict Dog Bite Laws
Many states have passed “dog bite” statutes that give precise rules for dog bite claims. Strict liability means that the defendant is responsible if their dog bites another person, no matter if the defendant could have done anything to prevent the situation.
The typical strict liability dog bite statute states that the defendant is responsible if his dog bit the plaintiff and:
- The plaintiff was legally permitted to be where they were when the dog bit them was
- The plaintiff did not provoke the dog
If a strict liability dog bite statute applies, it would be irrelevant what the owner did or did not know about the dog before the bite.
If a dog owner is negligent and allows their dog to bite a person, the dog caused a serious injury, or if the dog was previously declared to be dangerous, the dog owner can face a misdemeanor. They will have to pay a $1000 fine and spend 90 days in prison.
A “serious injury” is an injury that may cause death or puts the risk of death, causes “serious or protracted” disfigurement, “protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.”
If a dog was previously declared dangerous, manages to escape, or finds another way to gets to a person and kills them, the owner can face a class A misdemeanor, including the other penalties and civil liability.
New York is a “One Bite” State
New York’s highest court ordered “that the owner of a domestic animal who either knows or should have known of that animal’s vicious propensities” will be at fault for the injury the animal caused as a result of its vicious propensities. These include the ability to do any act that might compromise the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation.”
If you were recently bitten by a dog (no matter the breed, and no matter how minor the injuries) get medical help as soon as possible. Make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to a compensation claim for your injuries, stress, and medical treatment.
Cellino Law team has experience with cases like these. Let our attorneys review your case and help you with the further steps.