New York is considered a “mixed” state pertaining to its dog bite laws. It combines the “one bite rule” and strict liability, to some degree.
The law holds the dog owner responsible in cases where the dog attacks and injures someone – even if the owner attempted to prevent the attack. In these cases owners are usually subject to strict liability, meaning they would only be liable for medical and veterinary costs. A New York dog bite victim must prove that the owner was aware of the dog being aggressive in order to receive further compensation.
Although New York has adheres to the “one bite rule”, if the animal shows aggressive behavior prior to the first bite, the dog owner may be found negligent. Aggressive behavior includes:
- Attacking others even in a playful manner
- Jumping on visitors
- Growling and showing its teeth
If it can be established that an animal has shown any evidence of this type of behavior before the incident, the dog owner may be held accountable for the injuries their animal causes, as well as damages for loss of work and pain and suffering.
In some cases the very nature in which the dog owner goes about warning neighbors about the dog can be considered a sign of knowing that the dog is vicious. Consider the following: In one case in New York the owner of a dog was found to have some knowledge of his dog being aggressive due to the warning signs he posted. This owner was found liable for a subsequent attack due to the “Beware of dog” signs, which were posted above their door, and the fact that he felt it necessary to keep the dog chained up.
In New York criminal charges can even be filed against the owner of a dog who attacks someone, in addition to the civil penalties. In cases where there is severe injury, and the animal had already been found to be aggressive, the dog owner they may be charged with a misdemeanor, if the owner is found to have been negligent. This law is in effect even if the dog escapes from its normal containment area.
Even though New York law can be considered strict on dog owners there are some instances where the dog owner may not be found liable.
Instances where the dog owner may be exonerated are cases in which:
- The victim was trespassing or attempting to commit a crime
- The dog was being provoked by the victim
- The animal was protecting its owner
- The animal is a law enforcement dog, acting in the line of duty.
New York dog bite law can be complicated. For this reason anyone who is looking to be compensated after an attack, or has any questions regarding such a matter, should seek legal counsel. On this site you will find contact information for experienced dog bite/dog attack attorneys in New York. If you have suffered severe injury in a dog attack, contact one of our dog bite attorneys immediately for a FREE case evaluation.