Dog Bites in New York

New York, like every other jurisdiction in this country, has laws regarding liability for dog bites and the injuries that arise as a result of dogs that bite, maul, or otherwise harm people. Dog bites are a major cost to society, accounting for more than a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims.   In 2011 it is estimated that the cost to insurance companies reached $479 million. It is no small matter when anything costs approximately a half a billion dollars. In 2015 there were 34 deaths directly attributable to dog bites or dog maulings. Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 91% of those deaths. The same breeds accounted for 76% of deaths in the reporting period from 2005 to 2015. In New York two very young children die, within one week of each other, in November of 2015, both attacked by pit bulls. The second of those two deaths was by a family dog that never displayed any sort of aggression in the past. All dogs, not just pit bulls or rottweilers, are potentially aggressive. Care and good sense should always be employed when playing with any dog.


The Law in New York


Within these United States, there are two general rules that states follow when it comes to liability for dog bites. Either the owner is strictly liable for any bite by the dog that results in damages, or, the owner is not liable for the first bite, but is liable for any damages following the first bite, as the owner is then aware of the propensity of the dog to harm others. New York, however, is one of the few jurisdictions that is a hybrid state insofar as there it combines the two rules. On the one hand, if an owner of a dog that is found to be dangerous, the owner is strictly liable for medical and veterinary costs caused by the dog bite. For the victim to recover additional costs, he or she has to prove that the dog had a dangerous tendency to bite people and the owner knew of this tendency.


The owner may still be liable for the first bite of the victim can show that the owner knew of the dog’s vicious nature. At the same time, if the dog never even so much as growled at anyone in the past, the owner is not liable for such additional costs. The fact that an owner has a sign warning third parties to beware or that the dog is chained up is not sufficient to show the dog’s vicious propensities. Of course the law also recognizes that the conduct of the victim is relevant, such as if the victim of the dog bite or mauling was committing a crime on the owner of the dog, or was torturing or abusing the dog or the dogs puppies.

If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite or dog mauling, you must contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Call the dog bite attorneys at Napoli, Shkolnik, PLLC today at 212-397-1000 or fill out our online contact information so someone can contact you.