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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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. Call 212-268-3222 to discuss your legal rights with a free consultation with a New York dog bite lawyer today.