View Our Practice Areas

Dog Bites

Dog bites occur millions of times a year and affect a wide range of victims, including a large number of children. A dog bite can result in scarring and disfigurement. In certain situations, victims experience the loss of a finger or toe and may need to undergo painful treatments for rabies.

Dog Bite Laws

The dog bite laws in New York can be complicated because New York is a "mixed state", which means it combines the one-bite rule with some strict liability. Because it is a "mixed state", dog owners in New York are strictly liable for medical and veterinary costs while all other damages put the burden of proof on the victim to prove the dog had the dangerous tendency to bite innocent people. In some situations there can be criminal penalties for dog owners, if the dog owner negligently permits the dog to bite someone.

Strict Liability

In New York dog owners are liable for medical and veterinary costs. The victim does not have the burden of proof when it comes to the liability. The dog owner must pay for medical costs the victim requires.

One-Bite Rule

However, the victim has the burden of proof in a criminal case against the dog owner. The victim must prove that the dog owner was negligent in permitting the dog to bite. Proof must be shown that the owner knew the dog had a tendency to bite an innocent person. Was the dog previously labeled dangerous? Had the dog previously exhibited threatening behavior? If the owner should have realized the dog was dangerous were they negligent in restraining the dog? Was the dog not leashed or behind a fence? If the dog escaped and attacked then the dog owner will face criminal penalties for not adequately restraining a dangerous dog.

It may be necessary for the victim to show that they were not at fault for the dog bite. The victim should demonstrate they were on the property legally. For example, if the dog bite occurred during a burglary the pet owner is not liable. In addition, if the pet owner provided you a warning to stay away from the dog and you didn’t heed the advice, the owner will not be at fault.

Finally, for success in a criminal case it must be proven that the injury is a serious injury which means it results in death, serious disfigurement, or loss or impairment of the function of an organ.

If you have been attacked by a dog you may find it helpful to hire a personal injury lawyer in New York. Since the laws are mixed in New York, dog bite cases become complex. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine negligence. Contact us at Pulvers, Pulvers & Thompson for assistance with your dog bite case.