The majority of our canine friends are truly America’s favorite pet, but there are some that don’t live up to their loveable reputation. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 350,000 people seek medical treatment for dog bite injuries every year at emergency rooms. Sadly, around 26 percent of these victims are 14 years and younger. Still, no matter what the age, dog bite injuries are unique in that they often lead to life-threatening infection, scarring, and disfigurement. Plus, victims can experience significant trauma and gripping fear of animals that can last a lifetime. Losses, including medical costs, pain, suffering, and emotional distress, can be considerable.
You do have rights under New York dog bite laws, but you may find yourself asking the same question as many other victims about the “one bite rule” or strict liability. A New York dog bite attorney will answer that your options are mixed, which means that they’re definitely complicated. An overview of the relevant legal concepts may be helpful.
Strict Liability by State Statute: As mentioned, dog bite liability in New York is mixed, so the starting off point for understanding your rights is the state statute on dangerous dogs. The law states that the owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for medical costs incurred by a person who was injured. By “strict” liability, the language is referring to the fact that you don’t need to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities. It may be sufficient to show that the dog acted without justification by:
- Attacking and injuring or killing someone; or,
- Behaving in such a way that a reasonable person would perceive that it poses a serious risk of harm or death.
The key with strict liability for dog bites in New York is that you can only recover for medical costs of treatment. It’s likely that you sustain many other types of losses, which is why you might consider legal action through other liability concepts.
Other Theories of Liability for Recovering Damages: You may be able to recover compensation other than medical costs, but the key is being able to prove the owner’s knowledge. If that person knew or should have known that the dog had a vicious temperament, you could obtain amounts for pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages. The knowledge element is where the “one bite rule” terminology enters the picture, because having a dog that bit someone in the past puts the owner on notice.
Note that there are limitations and rules that could impact your rights even if you can prove knowledge. For instance:
- Your own conduct could be a factor in a New York dog bite case. You cannot recover compensation if you were trespassing on private property when attacked, or if you were provoking the animal just before it bit you.
- New York has a three-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases, including dog bite claims. If you don’t file a lawsuit in court before this deadline passes, you’re barred from obtaining monetary damages.
Contact a New York Dog Bite Lawyer to Discuss Your Rights
If you were injured in a dog bite incident, your case will be complex regardless of whether it proceeds according to the one bite rule or strict liability – or a mix of both. To learn how we can assist in getting the compensation you deserve as a victim, please contact The Mandel Law Firm at (646) 770-3868 or by visiting us online. We can schedule a free consultation to review your circumstance and determine how to go forward with your claim.