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Premises Liability

What is the liability of dog owners?

New York dog owners have the right to enjoy their dogs but may also bear the responsibility of any serious injuries resulting from their pet biting a visitor. Under certain circumstances, a lawsuit may be filed for dog bites or attacks that harm another person.

New York is not bound by a requirement that the dog previously bit someone else, known as the one bite rule, if the pet’s vicious nature is apparent. The New York Court of Appeals has recognized that the owner of a domestic animal in the state is legally and strictly liable for the harm caused by a pet’s vicious propensities if the owner knew or should have known that the animal had those vicious tendencies. New York has followed this legal standard since 1816.

Vicious propensities include the inclination to do an act that might endanger any person’s safety or other property under certain circumstances. It may be established that an owner was aware of these propensities where there is proof that the owner was aware of earlier acts.

Even where there is no proof that the dog bit someone else, violent tendencies can be shown if the dog growled, snapped or bared its teeth. Showing that the owner restrained their dog may also be relevant if it shows that the owner kept the dog away because they feared that it may harm visitors.

However, merely enclosing or chaining the dog may not necessarily demonstrate that it is dangerous.For example, keeping the dog confined because it barks, runs away or engages in normal canine behavior does not demonstrates that the dog is dangerous.

Each case depends upon the dog and the facts surrounding the event. Legal advice can help victims who incur damages from a dog bite. Legal assistance may gather necessary evidence and show that a dog owner is legally liable for damages caused by their pet.

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