Long Island Dog Bite Lawyer
Over four and a half million people in the U.S. suffer a dog bite every year, sending more than 300,000 people to the emergency room. About 10,000 dog bite victims require an extended stay in the hospital annually, at a cost topping $18,000 per visit. Nearly 30,000 people need some form of reconstructive surgery. Most tragically, hundreds die every year as a result of dog bites and animal attacks.
Dog bites affect people of every age and come from dogs of any breed. Some of the severe injuries a dog bite can inflict include:
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Agoraphobia (an anxiety disorder)
- Bacterial infections
- Permanent scarring, facial disfigurement, deformity
Dog bites are serious, painful and costly. Recovering compensation after a dog bite can be difficult and confusing under New York’s complicated mix of negligence and strict liability laws. Learn more about New York’s dog bite laws below and contact Long Island dog bite lawyers at Giuffré Law Offices in Garden City (Stewart Manor), Brooklyn or Queens if you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury in New York City.
New York dog bite law
New York law makes the “owner or lawful custodian” of a “dangerous dog” “strictly liable” for medical costs resulting from “injury” caused by such dog to a person, “companion animal,” farm animal or “domestic animal.” However, in order to recover compensation for lost wages and for pain and suffering, the injured person must prove that the dog had a “vicious propensity” and that the owner knew about the dog’s “vicious propensity.” A “vicious” or dangerous dog is one that either attacked and injured or killed someone without justification or acted in a manner that a reasonable person would believe posed a serious and unjustified imminent threat of death or serious physical injury, either to a person or a service animal. Actions like growling, baring its teeth, snarling, or lunging while restrained on a leash, are all signs that should indicate to the owner that the dog may be dangerous or vicious. However, “vicious propensity” is a legal term that is easily misunderstood. A friendly dog can that is likely to cause injury would be considered to have a “vicious propensity.” For examply, a friendly St. Bernard that tends to jump on people to lick them would be considered to have a “vicious propensity to cause injury” because such a big dog can knock someone down when jumping on them. Once we can show that the owner knew about their dog’s “vicious propensity,” then the owner is strictly liable for all the harm the dog has caused.
“Strict liability” means that the victim does not need to prove the owner was negligent in any way in allowing the attack to occur. The victim need only prove that the attack occurred, and the owner knew the dog was “vicious” or dangerous to recover from the owner.
The victim does not need to prove the owner’s negligence in order to get compensation. Keeping the dog off-leash in public or allowing it to roam free in an unfenced yard are common examples that might qualify as negligence, but New York does not permit victims to recover compensation on the ground of negligence.
If the owner did not know the dog was dangerous, the owner would only be held liable for medical costs, regardless if the owner was negligent.
If the owner knew the dog was vicious then its owner should take special care to keep the animal from attacking others and should be held liable for failure to do so.
The burden is on the dog bite victim to prove strict liability, and the owner can challenge the victim’s account of what happened, including providing defenses to liability. For instance, provocation is a defense to the claim the owner was negligent. What counts as provoking a dog to attack can differ from case to case and be a complex question to sort out. Other defenses include if the dog was acting for home protection or protecting the owner, or if the dog was in pain or suffering when it lashed out. New York law also provides an exception from liability for a law enforcement dog that bites in the performance of its duties.
Giuffré Law Offices Will Help Take Care of You After a Dog Bite in Long Island or New York
Dog bites are painful, traumatic events that can be very costly and affect the victim for years to come. Get help getting compensation for your injuries by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows and understands how to bring a claim under New York dog bite law. For help after a dog bite or vicious animal attack in Nassau County, Long Island or New York City, call Giuffré Law Offices at 516-802-9912 for a free consultation.