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Are New York Pet Owners Always Responsible When Their Dog Bites Someone?

Some states have dog bite liability laws that follow a “one-bite” rule. The one-bite rule states that a dog owner might not be liable to any extent for a dog bite injury if his or her dog has both never bitten anyone before and has never showed signs of aggressiveness before. In other states, there is a “strict liability” rule that basically says a dog owner is fully liable for damages following an attack started by his or her animal, no matter what has happened in the past.

In New York, there is a bit of a mix of both laws. Whenever a dog bites a welcome guest or visitor, any medical bills resulting from that animal attack will likely fall entirely on the dog owner. Damages beyond medical bills, however, will be up for contest and require negligence of the dog owner to be proven. For example, if someone wants to file a dog bite claim that also pursues emotional trauma, he or she must establish clearly that the dog owner didn’t take reasonable steps to protect them from the animal.

To avoid liability for nonmedical bills and damages, a dog owner should:

  • Hang signs prominently on the property to warn visitors of the dog.
  • Leash the dog whenever off the property or whenever someone is visiting.
  • Keep the dog separated from guests whenever possible.
  • Ask any visitors if he or she is apprehension around dogs before permitting entry.
  • Warn any visitors if the dog has been aggressive in the past.

Actions that Remove Liability from Owners

A dog owner is not always liable for medical costs associated with a dog bite that occurs in New York. Certain circumstances can lift any accountability from the dog owner, even if the animal was clearly untamed and aggressive.

Defenses against dog bite liability include:

  • The dog was acting in a way that protected its owner, its owner’s home, or another pet on the property from pain or harm.
  • The dog bit someone who was intentionally injuring, taunting, or otherwise abusing the animal.
  • The dog attacked someone who was knowingly trespassing or had the intent to commit another crime on that property.

In such a case, the dog bite victim will need to carefully prepare a case that shows none of the aforementioned scenarios were occurring at the time of the attack. If you want help making your dog bite claim, Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP and our New York City personal injury lawyers can be retained for professional counsel and representation. We have been advocating for the wrongfully injured in New York City for 50 years and bring more than 100 years of total experience to each case we take.

Call us at 646.461.4009 or email us to request your free premises liability case analysis.

Categories: Premises Liability