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Suing for Dog Bites Under New York’s One Bite Rule

Many New Yorkers find that dogs make friendly and loving companion animals. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of dogs in New York City and dozens of dog parks throughout the five boroughs. Unfortunately, some dogs can be dangerous or vicious and unexpectedly lash out. According to New York State law, under certain circumstances, you may be able to sue a dog owner if you sustained injuries resulting from a dog attack.   

New York’s Strict Liability and One-Bite Rules

New York dog bite law combines strict liability with what is known as “the one bite rule.” Once a dog owner or caretaker knows that their dog is dangerous or has vicious propensities, they have a duty to warn others and take precautionary measures to prevent their dog from attacking again. Failure to do so can result in liability for negligence if the dog attacks on another occasion.

In New York State, a dog owner is strictly liable for the victim’s medical expenses incurred as a result of the dog bite or attack. While it’s unnecessary to prove negligence to recover medical expenses, a victim must demonstrate negligence to recover for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.    

Defenses to a Dog Bite Under New York Law

The New York Agricultural and Markets law specifies instances in which a dog owner or caretaker can assert a defense for their dog’s actions. A dog would not be rendered dangerous, and an owner may not be held liable for negligence if the dog:

  • Was protecting its owner or property from someone committing a crime or trespassing
  • Reacted to being tormented, provoked, or abused by the person it attacked
  • Acted out due to pain or was protecting its offspring   
  • Was a police dog in the course of its official duties

An owner may be exempt from liability if they can prove any of these justifications. The dangerous dog statute applies not only to people but also to dog attacks on a service animal, livestock, or another companion animals.

New York Dog Bite Injuries and Compensation

Dog attacks can happen to a person of any age and can cause lifelong severe disfigurement and trauma. Dog bites and attacks can also cause emotional devastation, particularly in children.

Physical injuries can also include lacerations, bacterial infections, broken bones, crush injuries, nerve damage, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, and contusions. In some cases, they can even result in death. Medical care for these types of accidents can require extensive treatment, plastic surgery, physical therapy, medication, and any other recommended procedure.

Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the dog attack, you may recover damages beyond statutory medical expenses as required by the New York statute. In a personal injury action for negligence, a dog bite victim may be entitled to recover for their time lost from work, emotional injuries, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and punitive damages.    

Contact an Experienced New York Dog Bite Attorney

Dog attacks can be physically and emotionally traumatic. If you or your child suffered dog bite or dog attack injuries, you may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party. The facts of every case are unique. It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away who can protect your rights and inform you of your legal remedies. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. can help you obtain the maximum compensation for your damages 

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.  

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.