New York seems to be full of pets, especially dogs. It’s difficult to walk down the street without seeing someone with a dog.
If you own a dog or know someone who does, then it’s important to understand the dog bite law in the state. Even for those who aren’t personally acquainted with anyone who owns a dog, you may run into them so frequently that it’s worth understanding the laws – in case you or someone you love is ever bitten by one.
Here’s what you need to know about the New York dog bite law, plus what your options are if you are bitten by someone’s canine companion.
Dog Bite Laws in New York
Dog Bite Laws in New York are complex. They don’t follow just one set of regulations but are instead what is called “mixed.” As a mixed state, New York follows both strict liability laws as well as the one bite law.
Strict Liability and One Bite
Dog bite laws generally fall into one of two categories. There are one bite laws where owners are only liable for dog bites in cases where they knew the dog would bite another person. This helps to protect dogs just in case the bite was a one-time incident.
Strict liability dog bite laws, on the other hand, are quite new to many states. Under these laws, dog owners can be held liable for incidents involving dog bites regardless of whether or not the incident could have been prevented in the first place. Essentially, the owner of the dog is liable if the dog bites anyone, as long as there was no provocation on the part of the victim.
In New York, owners of dogs that have bitten previously are liable for vet bills and medical costs for the victim. For any other type of damages to be recovered in court, it must be shown that the dog had a violent nature, and the owner was aware of it. It should also be noted that, in New York, victims cannot get compensation based on negligence only.
What If Your Dog Bites Another Dog?
If you have a dog, and it bites a person or another dog, then you can be sued. In case this happens, you should make sure to exchange information with the person involved, such as insurance and contact information. Also makes sure to have your dog’s vaccination history on hand.
You should meet with an attorney to discuss any case against you, as they can help formulate a good defense.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, then you should make sure to do the same with exchanging information, then take it one step further: Get medical attention for the bite. Even dogs with all of their vaccinations can cause bites that lead to infection, and you do not want to get sick from a dog bite.
Even though a dog bite can trigger legal action, there is protection out there to defend dogs if they bite after they were provoked. If you’ve rarely or never had issues with your pet, and they bite someone, then it’s important to understand: A dog that was provoked by the victim may not be held responsible for the incident.
Some examples used in court for provocation include:
- Dogs that are defending their homes against someone coming onto the property without permission
- A dog protecting its puppies or owners
- A dog that is reacting to suffering or pain of some kind
- A dog that was provoked through abuse, assault, or torment
What About Negligence?
Negligence is a factor that prosecutors use to help them win in dog bite cases, but it’s normally not allowed as the grounds for a victim to recover compensation. In New York, it must be shown that the dog owner had knowledge of the dog’s vicious temperament in order for the lawsuit to be successful. The only exception is negligence per se, which is when the dog owner somehow violates the laws of New York State, in which case negligence could be claimed.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed?
In most dog bite cases, settlements will cover the cost of any medical expenses as well as any personal injury or trauma that occurred. Lost wages, punitive damages, or other medical expenses may be sought after by the prosecution, but that depends on the strength of the case against you and your dog.
Dog bites are serious and complex, so make sure to get legal representation no matter what side of the case you are on.