Attacked by a Dog: A Dog Owner’s Liability
According to a brochure published by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there are approximately four thousand dog bites reported in New York City every year. Although anyone can be bitten by a dog, boys who are 5-12 years old are at the greatest risk of being bitten. In New York, a dog owner may be liable for damages or be charged with a misdemeanor if the dog bites another person or animal.
Pursuant to New York law, the initial consideration with a dog bite or attack is whether the dog is considered to be dangerous based on past behavior. Owners of dangerous dogs are automatically responsible for any medical expenses that result from a dog bite injury to a person or animal. Additionally, a dangerous dog’s owner may be charged with a misdemeanor, fined and sent to jail if the dog bites or attacks someone.
In order to conclude that a dog is dangerous, the judge must make a determination that the dog is dangerous by clear and convincing evidence. In reviewing the evidence, the judge will look at the following issues:
- whether the dog caused serious physical injury or death while attacking a person without justification;
- whether the dog is known to be dangerous because it previously caused physical injury or death while attacking a person; or,
- whether the dog caused serious physical injury or death to a domestic animal, farm animal or companion animal and has caused physical injury or death to a domestic animal, farm animal or companion animal within the last two years without justification.
The judge will not declare a dog to be dangerous if the dog was justified in attacking a person or animal. For example, the judge may believe that a dog was justified in protecting its owner from someone committing a crime. Also, if the dog attacks someone being abusive to the dog, the judge will likely determine that the dog’s attack was justifiable.
Even if a dog is not determined to be dangerous, the dog’s owner may still be responsible for damages. A dog owner may have to pay a civil penalty up to $400 if he or she negligently allowed the dog to bite and injure a person or another dog. If the dog owner negligently allows the dog to bite a person resulting in serious physical injury, the owner may have to pay a civil penalty up to $1,500. The penalty may be decreased by any amount the owner pays to the victim for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages resulting from the bite.
Dog bite victims should contact a New York attorney promptly in order to recover medical expenses, lost wages and other damages from the dog’s owner. A New York attorney can advise dog bite victims about their rights and make sure that they recover all available damages from the dog’s owner. Contact an attorney today for a free initial consultation.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you should contact an attorney promptly in order to recover damages. A New York attorney can evaluate your case and determine if the property owner is responsible for your slip and fall accident. Contact an attorney today for a free initial consultation.