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New York’s “One Bite” Law – How Much Does a Dog’s Bite History Matter (NY)
America is a pet-friendly nation. Over 63 million American households have a dog, and with nearly 90 million dogs in the country, many households own two or more dogs. With that many dogs in the country, it seems like only a matter of time until you or a loved one is bit by a dog. Unfortunately, statistics show that the average dog bite victim is between 5 and 9 years old, and a dog they know is typically the one that bites them. While all dog bites can be severe, elderly victims, like this Staten Island man, are at the highest risk of death or injury in dog-related attacks.
Dog bite victims in New York City need to navigate the state’s “one bite” rule. Under the “one bite” rule, a dog owner is responsible for a dog bite or dog related injury only if the plaintiff can show that the owner knew or should have known that the dog has vicious propensities and was likely to harm someone. Attempts to change the law were unsuccessful, and victims of severe dog bites are often left with large medical bills unless they can prove that the owner knew their dog was dangerous.
Dog bite victims in New York City and Long Island can prove that an owner knew their dog was dangerous in several ways. A dog will have an established bite record in straightforward cases and may have been deemed a “dangerous dog” due to a history of aggression. The police, Department of Health, or SPCA keep records on dangerous dogs that your attorney can help you access.
What if the dog that bit you did not have a previously reported bite or was recently adopted from a shelter without records? An experienced dog bite attorney knows that New York law allows you to show that a dog owner knew of their vicious propensity even if the dog never bit anyone before. Your attorney will fight to gather evidence to prove that the aggressive dog tried to bite people in the past, snarled or growled at pedestrians, or was owned by someone who posted content on social media discussing animals their dog killed.
New York courts also let dog victims prove that they were bitten by a dog with vicious propensities whenever they can prove that the attacking dog acted in a way that endangered another’s safety, whether playful or not. Once a dog bite victim shows that a dog’s owner knew that the dog had vicious propensities, the dog owner is strictly liable for the harm the dog caused due to its aggressive nature. See e.g. Strunk v Zoltanski, 62 NY2d 572, 575-576 (1984).
Dog-Related Accidents and Injuries
People immediately think about a severe dog bite whenever they hear about a dog attack. Did you know that some of the most severe injuries in dog-related lawsuits do not even involve a bite? Consider this New York case involving a pedestrian who was evading a loose dog when a vehicle hit her. In that case, the plaintiff was able to show that the defendants did not do enough to restrain a dog with a known vicious tendency to run at pedestrians, and because of that knowledge, the defendants were liable for the injuries she suffered when she was fleeing the dog.
Other serious dog-related accidents include severe slip and fall cases that happen when dogs jump on visitors, growl at pedestrians and runners, or chase bikers. The impact of dog bites and dog-related accidents can be lifelong. Victims often report severe psychological injuries, like a persistent fear of dogs, that require treatment. Lost wages, substantial medical costs, loss of mobility, and persistent pain are just a few of the injuries caused by dogs. In particularly egregious cases, where a dog’s owner knew of repeated violent attacks, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
Homeowners and Renters Insurance May Cover Your Costs
Dog bites can cause serious bodily injury and death. Dog bite cases, like premises liability claims, are often covered by homeowners and renters insurance. The insurance industry reports that nearly $800 million in dog bite and injury-related costs were paid out to claimants in 2019 alone. The average price per claim? An eye-popping $44,760! New York had the highest average cost per claim of any state. The average insurance claim was for nearly $56,000 in New York in 2019. Insurance companies report that “increased medical costs and the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs” are all trending upwards.
These average settlement figures are just that – averages. They do not necessarily suggest that every dog bite or dog-related injury case will settle for that amount. Whether you were bitten by a dog in Midtown East, the Garment District, Little Brazil, or elsewhere in the City, you can call Dennis Carrion, ESQ of The Carrion Law Firm at 212-433-3100 to better appreciate your claim’s value.
Homeowners and Renters Insurance Frequently Covers Dog Bites and Dog-Related Injuries.
Luckily for dog bite and dog-related accident victims, homeowners and renters insurance policies often cover household pets’ claims. Insurance coverage can also apply outside the home, even if the dog bit you at the Chelsea Waterside Dog Park, Sirius Dog Run, on Long Island, or at the dog’s house. If you are the victim of a dog bite, seriously consider speaking with an experienced attorney before filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance.
Did you know that landlords can sometimes be responsible when their tenants’ dogs bite visitors and pedestrians? If you can demonstrate that the landlord knew that their tenants were keeping a dog with vicious propensities on their property and had enough control of the property to either remove the dog or confine it, the landlord can be strictly liable injuries.
This is particularly important because the NYCHA specifically bans most Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers from their properties. If one of these dogs bit you while you were on an NYCHA controlled property, you might have a claim against the housing authority. You may still have a claim if a different type of dog bit you on NYCHA property.
No two dog bite cases are the same, and you must understand your claim’s merits before you accept any settlement offers. If a dog bit you or a loved one, call New York dog bite attorney, Dennis Carrion, Esq. of The Carrion Law Firm at 212-433-3100.