Providing Dog Attack Victims With A Voice
Although dogs have earned the title of man’s best friend for their steadfast loyalty and human companionship, the fact remains that millions of dogs do not live up to this affectionate attribution. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States annually, and approximately 20 percent of dog bites require medical attention. If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog attack in New York, contact a dog bite attorney at Raphaelson & Levine to discuss your legal options.
The common need for medical attention after a dog attack can take a serious toll on dog bite victims. In fact, over one-third of homeowner liability claims are related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries – paying out over $700 million to victims each year.When an injury occurs, hiring a dog bite lawyer in New York is the best option to ensure sufficient compensation is awarded for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and additional costs that have resulted from the attack.
New York Laws Protect Dog Attack Victims
New York City and the state of New York are, unsurprisingly, similarly affected by the harms of dog bites. Thousands of dog bites occur every year in New York City alone, with the city itself suggesting that around 4,000 dog bites are reported in the city each year.
A particularly troubling dog bite attack occurred recently on a city subway when a dog attacked a woman after the dog’s owner had struck the dog bite victim. When the woman hit the man back, seemingly in self-defense, the dog proceeded to bite the woman’s foot.
The dog involved in the subway attack was a pit bull, an animal that has earned a reputation as a dangerous dog with a vicious propensity for dog bites. Although it is true that pit bulls are a leading breed for dog bites, the subway attack reminds us that human negligence from owners can frequently give rise to dog bites as well.
The common risk and serious harms associated with dog bites reinforce the need for strong dog laws that capably protect the public. New York dog bite law is designed to do just that across the state, and localities also create additional laws that dog owners must follow, which is particularly important for leashing a New York City dog.
LEASH LAWS IN NEW YORK
Although the state of New York has no leash law, this does not mean localities are silent on the matter. Indeed, New York City requires dogs to be kept on a leash, which must not exceed six feet in length. Similar legal restrictions apply in other localities, which is why law-abiding dog owners must be aware of local regulations in addition to current state law.
NEW YORK’S “MIXED STATE” APPROACH TO DOG BITE LIABILITY
If you have been bitten by a dog in New York, the state’s stance on dog bite liability informs the compensation you may be entitled to receive. The term “mixed state” refers to the fact that New York law incorporates a limited element of strict liability with a one-bite rule. Most states have chosen to implement either a one-bite rule or strict liability.
A one-bite rule refers to the fact that every dog is typically given one “free” bite before an owner may be held liable for damages. This form of liability is designed to give owners leniency until they have knowledge that their dog is dangerous since the dog has already shown a propensity for violent behavior. In a one-bite rule state, owners can then be held liable for their negligence for any subsequent dog bites.
By contrast, strict liability states hold dog owners responsible for any economic damages resulting from their dog biting a victim. In effect, strict liability states are unconcerned with whether or not the owner had reason to know that their dog was dangerous for determining liability. However, an owner’s negligence may still lead to a negligence claim that lets victims recover non-economic compensation that holds owners accountable for personal wrongdoing in many states.
New York blends both of these approaches. As for its approach to a one-bite rule, New York effectively functions as a one-bite rule state for damages “other than medical costs.” For a victim’s medical costs, a strict liability standard is imposed in New York.
STRICT LIABILITY AVAILABLE FOR VICTIMS BITTEN BY DOGS WITH VICIOUS PROPENSITIES
There is also a long-standing tradition in the New York court system that says strict liability standards may be imposed upon owners whose dog bites a victim when the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s “vicious propensities.”
New York’s highest court has said that the jury may consider several factors when determining whether a dog has shown evidence of a “vicious propensity”, including:
- Fighting with other animals
- Regular growling or baring teeth
- The owner’s use of a dog muzzle
- Previous complaints against the animal
A previous dog bite necessarily establishes a dog’s vicious propensity. Unlike a previous dog bite, however, the factors listed above do not necessarily establish a vicious propensity. The facts of the specific dog bite in question will still influence whether the dog has vicious propensities that an owner should have been aware of before a dog bite took place. This is one of many reasons why it is important to speak with a New York dog bite lawyer who will effectively represent your interests and legal claim.
Steps To Take After A Dog Attack
If you are injured by a dog in any way, the most important thing you can do is seek medical attention immediately. Dog bites can lead to serious infections, even if you deem the puncture wound as a minor one. Not only is it important to receive critical care for your physical well-being post-accident, thoroughly documenting your injuries benefits your legal claim as well.
In addition, take the following steps whenever possible:
- Work to identify who the dog and owner are by asking neighbors or contacting local animal control. Sometimes, this will not be possible (such as the pit bull subway attack mentioned previously). Your New York dog bite lawyer can help you track down the owner if you could not identify the owner for any reason, as identifying the owner is essential for receiving legal compensation.
- Obtain contact information and evidence from as many parties as possible. This includes the dog owner as well as witnesses on the scene. Document your injuries, take photos, and make notes of what you recall.
- Fully document medical symptoms and the need for medication and prescriptions.
- If your bite occurred in New York City, report the bite by calling the 311 hotline number or completing the online form provided by NYC Health.
Once these steps are taken, it is time to discuss your right to recover legal compensation with the help of a New York dog bite attorney.
Recover Compensation By Talking To A New York Dog Bite Lawyer
If you have been bitten by a dog in New York, protect your legal rights and pursue the legal compensation allowed by New York State law by speaking to a skilled New York dog bite attorney at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm.
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