Taking care of a dog is a responsibility. If your dog bites or attacks someone, you could be held financially accountable for the harm done. However, according to regulations governing premises liability, property owners may also be held accountable if a dog bites someone on their land. Because New York is a “mixed” state, its dog bite law combines the one-bite rule with a very low level of strict liability. The law limits the strict liability of the owner or keeper of a previously determined “dangerous dog” to the victim’s medical and veterinary expenses. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about New York dog bite laws.
What Are The Dag Bite Laws In New York
In New York City, dog bite laws are governed by the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, section 123. This law holds dog owners strictly liable for any injury caused by their dog, regardless of whether the dog had a history of being aggressive or not. In other words, if a person is bitten by a dog in New York City, the owner is responsible for compensating the victim for any damages suffered.
In addition to the state law, New York City has its own set of regulations regarding dog bites. The city requires all dog owners to license their dogs and to keep them under control at all times. If a dog bite occurs, the owner must immediately report the incident to the local Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. There are also specific requirements for dog owners who live in public housing. For example, certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls, are banned from public housing. Additionally, dogs must be leashed at all times when outside, and owners must have liability insurance to cover any damages caused by their dog.
It is important to note that in New York City, a dog bite victim has three years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. This is known as the statute of limitations. If the victim does not file a lawsuit within this time frame, they may be barred from seeking compensation for their injuries. If you have been bitten by a dog in New York City, it is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately. You should also gather any information about the dog and its owner, such as the owner’s name, address, and contact information. This information will be useful if you decide to file a lawsuit against the owner.
New York’s Dog Bite Statute For “Dangerous Dogs”
Section 123 of the Laws of New York’s New York Agriculture & Markets Code deals with a dog owner’s potential civil liability in the event that their dog injures someone else. The law protects victims of both bites and non-bite injuries, such as those sustained when a dog knocks somebody to the ground.
According to the law, if a “dangerous dog” injures someone else, livestock, or another person’s companion animal, such as a service dog for people with disabilities, the owner is responsible.
The statute defines a “dangerous dog” as one that:
- attacks and either injures or kills a person, farm animal, or pet without justification, or
- behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”
However, the statute specifically states that a law enforcement dog carrying out its duties cannot be considered a “dangerous dog.”
Liability for Damages In New York Dog Bite Cases
A dog owner is “strictly accountable” for all medical costs associated with injuries caused by a “dangerous dog” under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute. This means that even if the dog’s owner took reasonable measures to restrict or manage the dog, if the dog is later determined to be dangerous, the owner is still responsible for paying the injured person’s medical fees (or bills for the treatment of injuries to livestock or pets). The injured party must typically demonstrate that the dog’s owner was negligent in order to recover various sorts of damages due to a dog bite or dog-related harm. To put it another way, the victim must demonstrate that the dog’s owner did not take reasonable precautions to prevent the injuries from happening (failed to take reasonable steps to control or restrain the animal, in other words).
Consider a scenario where a dog escapes from its own yard, scales the fence of the neighbor, and then enters the neighbor’s yard before biting the neighbor. Under New York’s strict liability law, the injured neighbor may be able to recover the costs of medical care, but unless the neighbor can prove that the dog’s owner failed to take reasonable precautions to keep the dog in its own yard, the neighbor cannot recover the costs of replacing the damaged fence.
Damages Available For A Dog Bite Case In New York City
If a dangerous dog bites someone, property owners and dog owners may be held responsible for both economic and non-economic damages. Damages that may be awarded in a negligence claim include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Physical therapy and other forms of therapy
- Reconstructive surgery
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of income and benefits
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering caused by physical injuries, mental anguish, and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Diminished quality of life
A dog bite claim’s value is determined on the specifics of the incident. A victim who suffers significant scarring or long-term impairments, such as chronic nerve damage, can be awarded a bigger payment than someone who does not.
According to the contributory fault statutes of New York, your compensation may be reduced if you were a part of what led to the dog attack. For instance, if a jury determines that you contributed 30% to the cause of your accident, your pay for damages will be 30% lower.
Defenses To Dog Bite Claims In New York
New York’s dog bite law provides several possible defenses that a dog’s owner might raise in a civil liability claim. These include:
- The dog was a law enforcement dog carrying out its duties, and so was not a “dangerous dog” according to the definition in the statute.
- The dog was protecting its home against a person who was trespassing or committing a crime on the property.
- The dog was protecting its owner, its puppies, or itself when it bit or injured a person.
- The dog was reacting to the pain or suffering it was experiencing when it bit or injured a person.
- The dog was provoked when it was tormented, abused, or assaulted by the person who was bitten or injured.
Criminal Liability For Dog Bites in New York
In some dog bite cases, the dog’s owner may be charged with a misdemeanor. New York Agriculture & Markets Code section 123 allows charges to be filed if:
- the dog was previously declared to be a “dangerous dog”
- the owner negligently allows the dog to bite someone, and
- the injury suffered is a “serious injury.”
A “serious injury” is one that causes death, serious disfigurement, or the “protracted impairment” or loss of any body part or body organ.
If a “dangerous dog” overcomes an owner’s attempts to restrain him and kills a person, the owner may also be charged with a misdemeanor. Any owner who faces a criminal charge relating to a dog bite might also face civil liability if the injured person decides to sue in civil court.
A dog owner can be found guilty of a misdemeanor ($1000 fine and 90 days in jail) if they recklessly allow their dog to bite someone, the dog was previously deemed dangerous, and the harm is a “severe injury.” Agriculture and Markets Law, section 8 of Section 121.) A “severe injury” is one that results in death or poses a serious risk of death, or one that disfigures a person “seriously or persistently,” impairs their health over an extended period of time, or results in “prolonged loss of or impairment of the function of any body organ.” Agriculture and Markets Law, subsection 29 of Section 108.)
The owner may face a class A misdemeanor conviction in addition to other punishments and civil liability if a dog that has been previously deemed dangerous escapes or otherwise comes into contact with a person and kills him. Agriculture and Markets Law, section 9 of Section 121.)
How Long Do I Have To File A Dog Bite Claim In New York
Three years after the date of the injury is the deadline for filing claims for dog bites and premises liability. Families must bring a wrongful death claim for a dog attack within two years after the victim’s passing. The aforementioned guidelines may not always apply. After a dog bite or other animal attack, it is advisable to get legal counsel as quickly as you can.
The window for submitting claims might be calculated by a personal injury attorney. To prevent missing a deadline and waiving your ability to file a lawsuit against a negligent dog owner or property owner, you need to know this information.
An attack On Another Dog Or Companion Animal
For both the dog’s owner or keeper and the attacking dog, an assault on another dog or companion animal might have devastating repercussions. If a judge or magistrate finds the dog to be dangerous, they may punish the owner and place the dog under certain restrictions. The dog may even be put down if it was previously deemed dangerous and this time it killed or seriously injured another canine.