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Can I Sue For A Dog Bite In NY?

A male German shepherd bites a man by the hand.

In New York, is it legal to sue for a dog bite? Will you be able to seek compensation for your injury, pain-and-suffering, etc., in a personal injury lawsuit, if you get bitten by a dog?

Different states have varying rules, regulations, statutes, etc. where dog bites, the dogs themselves, and the owners of dogs are concerned. Here, we are going to look at how New York views these and how quickly you need to file following a dog bite if you want to pursue legal action.

First and foremost, if you’ve been bitten by a dog and wish to pursue legal action, it’s imperative that you hire a personal injury attorney immediately.

New York and Dog Bites

Where dog bites are concerned, New York is a “mixed state.” What does that mean? With a limited degree of strict liability, the New York statute mixes the one bite rule. For veterinary costs and the victim’s medical costs, the owner is strictly liable if the dog of a keeper/owner was previously adjudicated a “dangerous dog”.

The victim would have to prove, in order for additional damages to be covered, that the owner of the dog knew it had a tendency to bite people and that it was actually considered dangerous. Simply on the grounds of negligence, victims aren’t permitted to recover compensation in New York (most of the time).

The law governing dog bites/owners applies to domestic animals, farm animals, companion animals, etc. A fine may have to be paid by the owner of the dog in addition to medical costs if negligence is involved. In some cases, jail may be recommended if the owner is convicted of a misdemeanor.

The One Bite Rule

If a dog bit someone in the past, even if it’s only once, this could be the basis for an owner being required to know that the dog was dangerous. The one bite rule is in effect for the following states:

  • Wyoming
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • South Dakota
  • Oregon
  • North Dakota
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Mississippi
  • Maryland
  • Kansas
  • Idaho
  • Arkansas
  • Alaska

According to the rule, because their dog bit someone just once, they should have known the dog had a propensity to bite – regardless of the circumstances surrounding that first bite.

Proving an Owner’s Knowledge of a “Dangerous Dog”

One may think that if someone has a “Beware of Dog” sign in their yard, that will automatically prove the dog’s vicious propensities and the owner knew about them. This is not the case. It also doesn’t prove the dog is dangerous if, when someone walks by, it growls at them, bears its teeth, barks, etc. If a dog barks and strains at its chain when someone approaches, this also is not proof of a dangerous dog.

Be aware that a jury may well consider the nature and the result of the attack on a victim, when determining whether an animal has vicious propensities. Did the victim antagonize the dog? Was the victim trespassing in a “No Trespassing” posted area?

Have You Been the Victim of a Dog Bite?

According to New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules, from the date of your dog bite incident, you have three years to file a civil action. This is the statute of limitations where New York and dog bite incidents/injuries are concerned.

It’s of the utmost importance to contact a lawyer immediately following a dog bite.

If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite, you need someone to stand up for your rights. Let Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe, and Fein, P.C. be of service. Contact us using our convenient online form or feel free to phone us in New York at 212-227-1212, or in Huntington/Long Island at 631-864-2429.

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