Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?

Most of the time dogs make friendly companions. However, some dogs may bite or attack unexpectedly and leave their victims with substantial injuries. Dog bite injuries can be painful, devastating and leave permanent damage. Under New York State law, a victim of a dog bite or attack may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

The One Bite Rule

New York mixes "the one-bite rule" and "strict liability." Once a dog attacks another person or companion/domestic animal, the owner has a duty to warn others that the dog has dangerous propensities.
Strict liability for medical costs is imposed on an owner if they know their dog can be dangerous and it causes injuries to another -- a dog bite victim does not need to prove negligence to financially recover for their medical expenses. However, the owner's negligence must be demonstrated to recover damages beyond medical expenses.
There are exceptions under the law that a dog owner may be able to assert as a defense in a dog attack case. For example, an owner may be shielded from liability if they can show:
(1) The dog acted to protect its owner or property from a trespasser or person committing a crime.
(2) The dog was being tormented by the person it bit.
(3) Its reaction was due to pain or its protection of its owner, offspring, or property.
Police dogs are also exempt if the attack occurred during the course of its official duties.

Dog Bite Injuries

If you were attacked by a dog, your injuries can be severe. It is important to seek medical attention immediately. A dog attack can result in injuries such as disfigurement, punctures, infections, abrasions, tetanus, crush injuries, skin and tissue tears, nerve damage, and even death. Extensive medical treatment and surgeries may be required in some cases.
The dog owner may be willing to cover the costs of your medical expenses and any other damages out of their own pockets. Some homeowner's insurance policies may also cover these occurrences. However, if your damages are serious and you are not able to settle out of court, you may have to proceed to litigation.

Where Do I Sue?

The venue in which you will commence an action relating to a dog bite case will depend upon the amount of damages you incurred and the seriousness of your injuries.

Sometimes, a dog bite may not result in severe injuries, but you may still have out of pocket costs related to medical bills, clothing damage, or other property damage. If the dog owner does not settle, you may be able to bring your case to small claims court.

Small claims court allows you to recover for monetary damages, under a certain amount. The amount for which you can sue in small claims court depends upon the jurisdiction. Civil court may be another venue option, depending on the amount in controversy.

If you have suffered grave injuries or lost a loved one as a result of a dog attack, you will likely have to commence your case in a New York Supreme Court. There, you can recover monetary damages exceeding $25,000 as well as compensatory damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, wrongful death, and punitive damages in some cases.

Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the owner may also face civil fines or criminal penalties as a result of a dog attack. They may also be subject to specific local laws depending on the jurisdiction where the attack took place.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were attacked by a dog, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately who can advise you of your legal rights. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical expenses, and time lost from work.

The Popick Law Firm has over thirty years of experience in obtaining compensation for victims of dog bites. Located in Flushing, Queens, The Popick Law Firm handles personal injury cases in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Contact The Popick Law Firm today for a consultation.