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What Is a “Dangerous Dog” in New York?

If you or someone close to you has been injured by someone else’s dog, you should consider seeking help from a trusted New York dog bite injury lawyer. A local dog bite attorney can help you understand your legal options and the potential value of your claim. This blog explores the term “dangerous dog” and how it could apply to your unique injury case.

What Is the Legal Definition of a “Dangerous Dog?”

Under New York law, a “dangerous dog” is any dog that:

  • Attacks a person, pet, or any other domestic animal without justification and causes them physical injury or death
  • Behaves in a way that would cause a “reasonable person” to believe the dog posed a “serious, unjustified, and imminent threat of serious physical injury or death” to any person, pet, or domestic animal
  • Attacks a service dog, guide dog, or hearing dog without justification and causes the other dog physical injury or death

In this context, a “reasonable person” is an ordinary individual who exhibits average care, skill, and judgment. So, if an average person would have reason to believe that a dog’s behavior posed a serious threat to themselves or others, chances are the dog would be considered “dangerous.” However, the law specifically states that working law enforcement dogs carrying out their official duties are exempt from this classification.

In addition to this statewide law, there may be additional laws in your local municipality, county, or city. It’s always helpful to check the relevant legal codes to determine whether any exceptions or specific restrictions apply.

What Is Considered a “Physical Injury” or “Serious Physical Injury?”

When the dangerous dog statute refers to “physical injury” to a person or animal, the term means an injury that results in physical harm or substantial physical pain. Examples of physical injuries include:

  • Scrapes, lacerations, and broken skin
  • Puncture wounds and avulsions (torn skin)
  • Deep bruising and tissue damage
  • Soft tissue strains, sprains, and tears
  • Dislocated bones

Similarly, a “serious physical injury” is any injury that poses a substantial risk of death or causes death, serious disfigurement, prolonged health impairments, or the extended loss or functional deterioration of any body part. Examples of serious physical injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Blindness or deafness
  • Extensive scarring
  • Permanent disfigurement

What Are My Options If I Was Injured by a Dog in New York?

New York’s dangerous dog statute holds dog owners strictly liable for medical expenses resulting from any injuries caused by their dogs. Consequently, you may have a few options for seeking compensation if you were bitten or otherwise injured by another person’s dog in New York.

You could file an insurance claim against the dog owner or their insurance company since most homeowners’ and renter’s insurance policies contain liability coverage for dog attack injuries. These policies typically apply to injuries that occur on the owner’s property, and some also cover injuries that occur elsewhere. If the owner or the insurance company refuses to pay for your claim, an attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

If you wish to seek additional compensation for other losses you suffered, such as property damage, you’ll typically need to demonstrate that the dog’s owner was negligent in some way. For instance, let’s say a dog escaped from its owner’s yard and broke your fence before it injured you. In this case, you would only be entitled to compensation for your broken fence if you could show that the owner neglected to take reasonable care to confine the dog.

Do I Need a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer?

If you are pursuing a dog bite injury claim in New York, the stakes can be quite high. A successful case could provide the means to cover medical bills, lost wages, and more. To give yourself the best shot at recovery, contact the New York dog bite lawyers at The Mandel Law Firm for your initial case review.

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