New Yorkers love their dogs. In 2017, there were 85,085 licensed dogs in New York City, and were estimated to be about 20% of all dogs living here. One in seven NYC households has at least one dog. Most people in New York have small dogs, but that doesn’t mean they are more docile and less likely to bite than a larger one.
If you’re visiting someone’s home or business where there’s a dog present, a bite may be the last thing you expect. Dogs are great companion animals, burglar alarms and notification when something is wrong. In the course of doing its job, a dog may bite someone out of fear, to protect its owner, puppies or itself. A dog may also bite if it is injured, or tormented or abused by someone.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that dogs bite over 4.7 million victims every year in the United States with roughly 800,000 people having to seek medical attention. About half of these victims are children, and 386,000 require treatment in an emergency room.
What Is Premises Liability?
This part of New York law that deals with injuries that occur on someone else’s property, including a dog bite. A property owner, manager or employee has a duty of care to keep the property safe for visitors. This includes homeowners, and their dogs.
In addition to dog bites and dangerous animals, premises liability covers things like:
- Standing water
- Slick or slippery substances on flooring (such as oil)
- Inadequate maintenance or lighting
New York does have specific dog bite laws, but dog bite cases are also part of premises liability.
The laws apply to individuals who were on a property legally, and not trespassing.
Proving Dog Bite Liability
New York dog owners are strictly liable for any medical costs incurred if their dog bites someone, and an injured party won’t have to prove that the dog owner’s negligence. It also doesn’t matter if the dog’s owner knew the animal was vicious or not.
Damages such as medical costs, lost wages, and other related costs may be collectible. But punitive and other damages may only be collected if you prove that the defendant knew, or should have known, that the animal had a dangerous or vicious temperament, and a tendency to bite someone. Also important is the owner’s failure to exercise control over the dog that would have prevented the injury.
To collect other types of damages, New York’s strict liability rule requires proving that the owner was, indeed, negligent, and failed to prevent the dog bite injuries or other calamity caused by the dog.
New York Agriculture & Markets Code section 123 covers dog bites but also other acts that can cause a problem, such as jumping on an individual and knocking them over. The statute states that a dog owner is liable if their “dangerous dog” causes injury to a person, their companion animal (such as a disability service dog) or livestock.
A “dangerous dog” is one that attacks and injures or kills a person or other animal without provocation or leading a reasonable person to believe there was a danger of attack. However, police dogs are exempt from this definition.
Dog Bite Injuries
While some dog bites just leave a tiny scar or minor bleeding, dogs can also cause more serious injuries like:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Internal injuries
- Broken Bones
- Amputation of fingers or toes
- Injury to the eyes, as dogs often go for the face or throat
Children are particularly vulnerable to dog bites, partly because of their size, and partly because they may not understand the dog’s potential dangers.
After A Dog Bite
If you’re injured, it’s important to seek medical care immediately. If you are able, take pictures of the site of the attack, your injuries, or ask for help from a witness. If witnesses are present, get their names and contact information as well. Include damaged clothing and/or shoes and anything else damaged. Identify the dog and its owner, and request proof of vaccination. DogsBite.org has additional information available.
The State of New York allows three years for you to file your premises liability claim for a dog bite. After that, your suit will be dismissed. That’s why it’s important to speak with a New York dog bite attorney as soon as you can.
Personal Injury Attorney In New York
Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier has been helping New Yorkers with dog bite injuries and premises liability cases for over 25 years. Call us at (212) 777-9400, or use our online contact form. We’ll schedule your free consultation, and let you know how we can help you. There’s no fee unless we win your case. We’ll fight for your rights and get you the settlement you need to take care of your injuries and get on with your life.