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When is a Dog Owner Liable for a Dog Bite in New York?

While most people may have been scratched by a dog at one point or another in playing with or petting a dog, a serious dog bite is a whole other matter. People can die from dog bite injuries – and children and the elderly are especially vulnerable – and a serious dog bite can require expensive medical bills, not to mention significant pain and suffering that can last for months and years. Determining whether a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury is not always a straightforward matter, so an understanding of New York dog bite laws can be critical to knowing whether you have the ability to pursue a personal injury case for damages against the owner.

New York Law on “Dangerous Dogs”

Generally in New York, a dog owner has to have reason to know that his or her dog was a “dangerous dog” and/or had “vicious propensities” in order for there to be liability for a dog bite claim. Some people might refer to this as the “one free bite” law – meaning that an owner gets a free pass for the first time that the dog bites a victim – but this is not quite accurate.

If the dog has previously bitten a person or other animal, causing injury or death to the person or animal, then the dog will be considered a “dangerous dog” under New York law, and the owner will be strictly liable for other injuries caused by the dog. But a previous biting incident is not the only way for an owner to know that the dog is dangerous and/or has vicious propensities, and thus to be strictly liable for dog bite injuries. New York courts have recognized that even where a dog has not caused death or injury, so long as the owner was aware that the dog had a “proclivity to act in a way that put others at risk of harm,” the owner may still be strictly liable for injuries caused by the dog.

Putting the Blame on a Dog Bite Victim

Defendants in dog bite cases will often try to place the blame on the victims in dog bite injuries by suggesting that the victim was negligent in approaching or antagonizing the dog. It is important to understand, however, that, even if the victim did exhibit some level of carelessness in interacting with the dog, this will not necessarily prevent the victim from recovering compensation for his or her injuries from the dog owner, although that recovery may be lessened depending on the circumstances. A good dog bite attorney will fully investigate the matter to find evidence of the dog being a dangerous dog and defend against arguments of negligence on the part of the victim.

Legal Assistance in Your Dog Bite Claim

If you or a family member has been injured by a dog bite in New York or New Jersey, dog bite attorney Justin Brandel can help investigate your situation and fight for maximum compensation for your injuries through a settlement or verdict. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step in winning recovery for your dog bite injuries.

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