Dogs, regardless of their breed, size, or perceived nature, are capable of injuring people when they attack. Most dog bite injuries can be prevented, meaning that an owner's actions - whether it be neglect, abuse, or a failure to adhere to state regulations - is somehow a contributing factor to an attack.
If you are a victim of a dog bite injury, it's important you understand the basics of filing a claim and liability as it applies to your claim. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of New York's dog bite laws.
Overview of Dog Bite Claims in New York
Statute of Limitations
Every state in the nation imposes time restrictions on filing personal injury claims, including those that arise from dog bites. This deadline is referred to as the state's statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations requires a dog bite case to be completely filed in court within three years of the date of the injury. If a victim does not file a case within the allotted time, the court may bar them from filing at all. Therefore, it's imperative potential claimants abide by these statutory restrictions in their pursuit of compensation.
New York statutory law pursuant to Agriculture & Markets Law Section 121 broadly addresses dog bites and various other injuries inflicted by dogs. It particularly references liability in dog bite claims. The law dictates that the owner or custodian is strictly liable for medical costs resulting from any injuries caused by a “dangerous dog” to a person, companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal. A dangerous dog is a dog with one the following attributes:
- Attacks without justification, or
- Behaves in a fashion that would compel a reasonable person to believe the dog poses “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”
An exception to the dangerous dog clause includes police dogs carrying out their duties.
Strict Liability and the ‘One Bite Rule'
Liability in dog bite cases is typically handled in one of two ways:
- Strict liability; or
- The “one bite” rule.
New York takes a unique approach to assigning liability in dog bite cases by conflating strict liability and the one bite rule to handle these cases. If the dog identified in a dog bite is legally deemed dangerous, the owner is “strictly liable” for all the medical bills accrued as a result of the injury. This is the case even if the dog's owner has taken the necessary precautions to control or restrain their dog.
Strict liability dictates that a dog owner is responsible for the dog bite injury caused by their dog regardless of their intentions to prevent the incident from occurring.
For other types of damages sought for a dog bite, the one bite rule is applied. In these cases, the injured person has the burden of proving that the dog's owner was negligent, and that this negligence led to their injuries. Basically, the injured person is responsible for providing evidence that shows a dog's owner failed to take the reasonable steps to control or restrain their dog.
New York Dog Bite Attorneys
If you or a loved one has sustained a dog bite injury, you may be entitled to compensation. At the Law Office of Kenneth Puig, we are devoted to helping you get the compensation you deserve in court. Call our office at (845) 787- 4649 or contact us online for a consultation.