New York Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog attacks cause devastating injuries and a number of fatalities each year across the nation. While children are often more vulnerable to dog bite injuries, adults may also end up suffering serious injuries in dog attacks that may result in scarring, amputations, disfigurement or even death. A dog attack may occur in a park, on the street, at a friend of acquaintance’s home or in your own home.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, you probably have a number of questions regarding how you can seek compensation for your losses and how you can hold the dog’s owner accountable for his or her negligence. It is important in such cases to contact an experienced New York dog bite lawyer who will fight hard to protect your rights.
Understanding Dog Attacks
Dogs have proven to be great companions for humans. At the same time, they may also pose serious dangers when they attack. A dog bite victim may experience severe pain or even nerve damage in addition to becoming infected. This puts the injured person at risk of illness or death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Nearly one out of five bites become infected. Among, children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites. Also, among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.
According to a recent study by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, New York had the third largest number of dog bite claims in the U.S. in 2015, with the average claim costing $44,230. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out nationwide last year, costing more than $570 million. New York’s claims cost $39 million. The claims that cost the most involved dogs knocking down children, bicyclists and elderly people and causing fractures and other traumatic injuries. There has also been a recent surge in U.S. Postal Service workers being attacked by dogs.
What to Do if a Dog Bites You?
If you have been attacked and/or bitten by a dog, it is important that you take several steps in order to protect your legal rights and options.
- Get important information such as the identity of the dog owner. This will help you if and when you decide it is necessary to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner. If possible get the owner’s name, address, contact information as well as the dog’s description and licensing information.
- Take photographs of the wounds before you get treatment for it. Also, preserve any physical evidence you may have from the scene such as torn or bloody clothing.
- Secure medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries. This is particularly important because dog bite injuries may also lead to deadly infections.
- Make a report to the agency that does animal control in your jurisdiction. Do not rely on the hospital to report the incident. Report your incident in detail and obtain a copy for your own records.
- Get the necessary insurance information from the dog’s owner. You should obtain the name of the insurance company, their address, telephone number, policy number, name of the person who is insured and the amount of money available to pay for medical expenses.
- Keep and preserve all receipts including those showing medical expenses and other expenses you incurred as a result of the injury. Keep track of the number of days of work you lost as a result of the injury as well.
- Do not discuss money, payment or settlements with the insurance company. Do not allow yourself to be tape recorded or photographed. Don’t take any steps that may affect your claim until you have spoken with an experienced personal injury lawyer who will look out for your best interests.
New York Dog Bite Laws
Proving a dog bite case in New York can be challenging and you need a skilled attorney on your side who is knowledgeable and has successfully handled similar cases. There are few things that must be clearly understood when it comes to dog bite cases in New York. First and foremost, dog owners in New York do not get a “one free bite.” What this means is that dog owners may be held liable even when their dog has not bitten before. So, there is no “one free or first bite” exception for dog owners in New York.
Also, New York doesn’t have statewide leash laws. Instead leash laws are determined on a local or city level. If you have been bitten by a dog that was not on a leash, you need to work with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with local leash laws.
New York City has dog-specific laws:
- When out in public, dogs must display their license tags with an expiration sticker on their collars. Licenses are obtained through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) via email, online or at a DOHMH event.
- Rabies vaccinations are mandatory. All dogs must receive a rabies vaccine by four months of age with periodic boosters after that. Proof of the rabies vaccine is often required by groomers, playgroups and dog runs in the city.
- Dogs must be kept on a leash no more than 6 feet long. Some cities have off-leash hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Dogs are also permitted off-leash in designated dog runs as long as they have a current license and rabies vaccine.
- In 2011, the New York City Council passed a tethering bill making it illegal to tie or chain a dog for more than three hours in a 12-hour period. The bill also prohibits any type of tethering that uses heavy chains, or chokes and pinch collars. Dogs tethered inhumanely are more likely to become aggressive and bite.
Proving a Dog Bite Case
In order to prove liability against a dog owner in New York, plaintiffs must prove that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s “vicious propensities.” Under the law “vicious propensities” is defined as the “propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation.” Examples of vicious propensities may include growling, snapping and baring teeth. This may reflects a dog’s tendency to act in a way that puts others in danger. Retaining the services of a dog bite attorney who knows case law can make a significant difference when it comes to your dog bite claim.
You may also hold a landlord or property owner and/or property manager liable for a dog attack with a premises liability claim. Plaintiffs in such cases must prove that the landlord had knowledge of the dog’s presence and its vicious propensity. A landlord may even be held liable for a dog attack that took place off his or her property if he or she knew the danger the dog posed to the public, but failed to take the necessary steps to prevent such an attack from occurring.
Dog Bite Injuries
The injuries that result from dog attacks can be physical as well as emotional or psychological.
Physical injuries: Dog bites may result in a number of physical injuries including, but not limited to, abrasions, lacerations, puncture wounds, tissue loss, crush injuries, broken bones, sprains and strains, amputations, scars and life-threatening infections. Victims of dog bite injuries, particularly children, should be examined for nerve damage and facial fractures. Physical injuries caused by dog attacks may also result in death. Many dog bite victims are left with severe scarring and disfigurement, which may require costly and painful cosmetic surgery. Some of the scars and injuries might even be permanent.
Emotional and psychological issues: Dog bite victims, regardless of their age, may suffer emotional and psychological problems. Victims may acquire post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Some victims may suffer from paranoia or fear of dogs after a dog bite incident. Victims may even be afraid of taking walks outside because of such fear. Those who have suffered scarring or disfigurement may go into a state of depression over their appearance. Children may suffer emotional injuries that require continuous counseling as well.
Responsibility of Dog Owners
Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their premises are safe for visitors and guests. Here are some of the steps dog owners should take to help prevent attacks that may lead to serious injuries:
- License, spay and neuter your dog. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to be aggressive.
- Do not keep your dog restrained or tethered for extended periods of time. This may make dogs aggressive. Keep your dog leashed in public all the time, in accordance with New York City leash laws.
- If your dog has displayed the propensity to be aggressive, keep it muzzled in public places. At home, keep the dogs in the backyard and your gates always secured so they do not get out and hurt someone. Periodically check for holes in fences or gates that may allow dogs to escape.
- Be sure to have a homeowner’s insurance policy that covers liability for dog attacks.
What is Your Dog Bite Case Worth?
The amount of compensation for a dog bite victim is determined largely on a case basis. This means that the worth or value of your case will depend on the nature and extent of injuries and losses you have sustained as a result of the dog attack. First, in a dog attack, since lacerations, puncturing and tearing of tissue occur, there is the issue of scarring and disfigurement. Bites that result in scarring to the face may elevate the value of a claim. This is because a prominent scar affects a person’s appearance and may often have an impact on the person’s emotional state as well.
Any type of permanent injury that disables a victim such as limb amputation or permanent disfigurement will also raise the value of a dog bite claim. When it comes to evaluating dog bite cases, having photographs of the injuries as well as medical reports can bolster your claim. These pieces of evidence help demonstrate the severity of the injury. Whether or not a victim requires cosmetic surgery to repair scars can be a factor in the compensation of a particular case.
Compensation for Injured Victims
Injured victims of dog bites can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, cost of cosmetic surgery, permanent injury, disability, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recovered $750,000 for a girl who was bitten by a dog, which was the most money recovered in New York State for a dog bite that year. We also recovered $200,000 for another victim of a dog bite, by trying the case to verdict.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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