New York’s Dog Bite Statute Explained

What compensation might a dog bite victim receive in a personal injury lawsuit?

Dogs have long been regarded as man’s best friend, but these potentially powerful animals can pose a threat to humans when they attack. Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 4.5 million people in American are bitten by dogs. One in five of those who suffer a bite wound will need medical attention. Dog bites carry the potential for inflicting physical injuries and scarring, as well as emotional and mental pain. Dog bite victims may be able to seek compensation for the injuries inflicted by a dog owned by someone else per New York’s dog bite laws.

New York is a Mixed-State

New York is considered to be a mixed-state when it comes to its dog bite laws. New York law mixes the common one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability. Per the statute, the owner of a dog that is considered dangerous will be strictly liable for medical costs stemming from injuries inflicted by the dog. Strictly liable means that the dog bite victim need not prove negligence on the part of the owner in order to collect medical costs.

A dangerous dog under New York law is one that injures or kills a person, domestic animal, farm animal, or companion animal without justification. Alternatively, a dangerous dog could be one that behaves in a manner so that a reasonable person would believe the dog poses a serious and unjustified threat of severe injury or death.

For all other damages, New York follows the one-bite rule. Under this rule, the owner will be liable for damages caused by injuries inflicted by the dog if the victim can show that the dog is vicious and the owner knew or reasonably should have known of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. Evidence of a prior bite is commonly introduced to meet this requirement. Other potential evidence of dangerousness could include a history of the dog growling or otherwise acting aggressively.

Dog bite victims may be eligible to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, physical and emotional pain and suffering, ongoing disability, and more. Your exact recovery will depend on your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the bite. Contact a personal injury attorney for assistance with pursuing your dog bite case.

Posted in: Personal Injury Law


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