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How do New York dog bite laws protect victims?

Dogs, especially domesticated ones, are generally harmless. Some people stop to take photos and even pet strangers’ dogs. But no matter how cute or friendly a dog seems, one can never anticipate how it will act, which can sometimes lead to bites. Dog bites can result in injuries, or worse, death.

It is helpful for dog bite victims to know how New York laws protect them.

What the law provides

Under New York dog bite laws, the owner is strictly liable for damages if their dog causes injury to another person or animal and they are guilty of negligence.

What does it mean for an owner to be negligent? It means that the owner is aware that the dog is dangerous or has a background of dangerous behavior and yet fails to act reasonably to prevent the attack or inform the victim of the impending risk.

New York law defines a dangerous dog as one which unjustifiably attacks and injures a person, a service dog, a livestock or a domestic animal. Moreover, a dog who behaves in a way that would make a reasonable person believe it poses an imminent threat is dangerous. However, if a dog had justification for the attack, such as being a law enforcement dog on duty, it does not fall under the category.

What it means for me as a victim

If the dog involved is dangerous, the owner shall be responsible for covering the victim’s medical expenses, including hospitalization and treatment. For this, the victim does not have to prove negligence on the owner’s part.

However, if the victim seeks other damages, the person who obtains a serious injury due to a dog bite has three years from the attack to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. But for the claim to push forward, they have to prove that the owner was guilty of negligence.