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New York’s old world dog bite law

Under New York law, pet owners have some responsibility if you are bitten or injured by their dog. But in order to collect full damages, the victim must prove that the dog was known to be vicious.

New York’s outdated dog bite law makes it more difficult to get compensation than in other states. It is one more reason to hire an attorney if you or a family member was attacked by a dog.

New York’s limited law on strict liability

In most states, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets. This means that they are automatically presumed to be responsible for all harm the victim suffered.

New York has a strict liability statute, but only for medical expenses you incurred and/or veterinary expenses if the dog attacked your pet. The dog’s owner must compensate you for:

  • Treatment of bite wounds and infections
  • Nerve damage or muscle damage
  • Reconstructive surgery

The “one-bite rule” can affect your case

In order to collect damages for disability, disfigurement, emotional distress, or pain and suffering, you must demonstrate liability, through evidence of the dog’s vicious propensity or other evidence that the owner was negligent. Vicious propensity means that the animal had previously been identified by law enforcement as a “dangerous dog,” or that the owner knew of the dog’s history of biting or chasing people or attacking other pets.

This is known as the “one free bite” rule. The first time a dog attacks, the owner is not liable except for medical expenses. New York is one of the few states that still gives dog owners this old common law protection.

Whether or not the dog has a history of attacks, you still have a dog bite case, and you should consider contacting a lawyer with experience in these claims.

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