More than 48% of households in the United States own at least one dog. Dogs make great companions, but sometimes man’s best friend can be dangerous. Dog bites are more common than you think. In New York City, 2,009 dog bites were reported to the NYC Health Department in 2014 alone. Dogs are animals, and they have animal instincts. This means that in certain scenarios they can lash out and attack someone which can lead to serious injuries.
Different states take different approaches to an owner’s liability for a dog bite. Some states follow strict liability, meaning that an owner is liable for their dog’s behavior regardless of whether the owner was acting negligently. Other states require that there be some negligence on the part of the owner before holding them liable for their dog’s behavior. New York is a mixed state that uses both strict liability and negligence depending on the circumstances.
Strict Liability for “Dangerous Dogs”
Under New York Agriculture and Markets Law section 121, the owner of a dangerous dog can be strictly liable for any medical or veterinary costs incurred as the result of an injury to a person or a farm, domestic, or companion animal. A “dangerous dog” is one that
- Attacks and injures or kills a person or other domesticated animal without provocation; or
- Behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or domesticated animal.
The breed of the dog is not relevant in determining whether a dog is dangerous. An owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for medical or veterinary bills only and is liable regardless of how much care they took to control their dog.
To receive damages other than medical expenses as the result of a dog bite, you will need to prove some negligence on the part of the dog owner. The injured person must show that the dog’s owner failed to use reasonable care and take reasonable precautions to prevent the injury from occurring. For example, if a dog breaks out of his backyard and bites someone walking by, the owner would only be liable for medical bills unless the injured person can show that the owner failed to take proper steps to keep the dog in the yard.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured by a dog, you should consult with a personal injury attorney to determine if you are entitled to compensation. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.