How to Sue a Dog Owner Following a Bite in New York City

If you were bitten by a dog in New York City, you may be entitled to sue the dog’s owner for compensation.  Dog bites can be serious, and they can come with long-term emotional damage and post-traumatic stress symptoms.  After a dog bite, talk to a lawyer immediately about how to go about filing a lawsuit.

To file a lawsuit against the owner of a dog that bit you in New York City, you first need to find out who the owner is and where you can serve them with notice of the lawsuit.  You also need to be able to prove that your case meets the legal standards for a lawsuit, so collecting evidence and taking pictures of the injuries will be important.  Lastly, talk to a lawyer for help with your case.

The New York City dog bite injury attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm fight to help injured dog bite victims get compensation for their injuries.  For a free review of your potential case, call our law offices today at (718) 841-0083.

Determining Who to Sue and How to File a Dog Bite Injury Case in New York City

To file your case, you need to first know whom you need to sue and where you need to sue them.  It is important to understand what happens when you are bit by a dog in the care of a dog walker: do you sue the owner or the dog walker?  If you file your case in the wrong courthouse, you could also waste time and filing fees only to have to re-file your case in the right courthouse.  Our New York City personal injury attorneys explain some of the facts about who to sue and where to file your case:

Suing the Right Parties

New York Agriculture & Markets Code § 123 lays out the rules for who is responsible in a dog bite injury case.  Subsection 10 of this statute says that the “owner or lawful custodian” can be held strictly liable for a person’s medical expenses from dog bite injuries.  This only applies to “dangerous dogs.”

This means that if the attack happened at the dangerous dog owner’s house, under the owner’s supervision, or when the dangerous dog was loose, the owner is probably the responsible party.  If the dog was in someone else’s custody at the time of the attack, such as a dog walker or a kennel worker, then that person should be liable instead.

However, other rules and exceptions might allow you to sue other parties responsible for the injuries as well.  Those rules might allow you to get additional damages, such as pain and suffering, from the dog’s owner or custodian.

Suing in the Right Court

Courthouses handle cases that fall within certain geographical bounds.  That means that, within New York City, you have to choose the correct court to file your case in based on where in the city the accident occurred.  Each borough has its own courthouse, so you should typically file the injury lawsuit in the corresponding courthouse to the borough where your accident occurred.

There are some complex rules that might allow you to file your claim in a different location, such as the courthouse that covers the dog owner’s residence.  Talk to a Queens personal injury attorney for more information about where to file your lawsuit.

It is also possible that you might be able to skip the court entirely.  If you want to file an insurance claim instead of a lawsuit, you may be able to file with the dog owner’s insurance instead.  Again, talk to an attorney about whether this is the right decision in your injury case.  Many insurance claims are too low to cover the full injuries a dog bite victim faces, so a lawsuit could be a better option.

The Legal Standards for a Dog Bite Lawsuit in New York City

Dog bite laws typically work under a couple of different systems:

  • Negligence rules allow you to sue a dog owner who did something wrong or made mistakes that allowed the bite to happen.
  • “One bite rules” allow victims to sue the owner if the dog previously bit someone and showed itself to be “vicious.”
  • Some “strict liability rules” allow victims to get compensation for a bite regardless of negligence or prior instances of “viciousness” – but there may be other requirements.

New York does not use a negligence rule for most dog bite cases but uses a combination of the other two rules for most cases.  This allows people to sue for dog bites under different legal standards in different circumstances.

As mentioned, the law in New York typically allows you to get compensation for medical expenses from the owner or custodian of the dog under a strict liability system.  This rule first requires proving that the dog is a “dangerous dog.”  The standards for a “dangerous dog” are found in § 108 of the Agriculture & Markets chapter.  This definition includes dogs that attack without justification or dogs that would make a reasonable person think they pose an injury risk.

To get additional damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages related to a serious dog bite or mauling injuries, your New York City dog bite injury lawyer will typically take another route.  This is where New York’s “one bite” rule kicks in.  Under this rule, courts have awarded victims damages beyond medical expenses when the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog had “vicious propensities,” according to Bard v. Jahnke (2006) and other similar cases.

Call Our Dog Bite Injury Attorneys Today

If you were bitten by a dog in New York City, The Carrion Law Firm’s Brooklyn personal injury lawyers may be able to help.  For a free case review, call us at (718) 841-0083.