More than 40 percent of Americans own at least one dog. It’s easy to see why ― dogs can be loyal companions who provide love, entertainment and can even save lives. But even the most trustworthy dogs have the potential to be aggressive. If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, it’s possible to obtain compensation for the injuries that you have suffered.
Dog bites can result in devastating injuries, both physical and emotional. The cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, missed wages and other losses can create tremendous burdens for victims and family members.
New Yorkers have the right to obtain compensation for dog bite injuries. Dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their pets do not bite or attack. When they fail to do so and someone is bitten, the responsible party can be held liable for any injuries.
If you have been bitten by a dog, the knowledgeable Albany dog bite attorneys at Belluck & Fox can help. For more than 25 years, we have defended the rights of injured victims throughout New York and recovered more than $1 billion in compensation for our clients.
Contact our nationally respected attorneys today for a free consultation.
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Common Dog Bite Injuries
The type and severity of a dog bite injury can vary dramatically. Some people may be snapped at by a dog, perhaps suffering a bruise as a result. Others could be fully attacked, resulting in more serious injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Facial and body scarring
- Internal injuries
- Blood loss
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Nerve damage
- Permanent disfigurement
- Psychological injuries
Medical costs for even mild to moderate dog bite injuries can be costly, even more so if the injuries are catastrophic. Beyond medical expenses, dog bite victims may also be eligible for compensation for time off work, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering, in addition to other damages. A person who is attacked by a dog may also develop a lifelong fear of dogs — this is especially common in children who are attacked.
Pet Owners’ Liability for Dog Bites
Dog owners have a duty to take reasonable actions to prevent their dog from biting or attacking another person or animal, especially if the dog is known to have an aggressive temperament.
Dog bite laws vary from state to state. New York is considered a “mixed state” when it comes to dog bite liability, maintaining both a strict liability rule and a one-bite approach for legal claims.
In New York, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for injuries to anyone who is bitten if the dog has been deemed dangerous. That means that the dog bite victim does not have to prove the dog owner’s negligence in order to obtain compensation.
New York law defines as dangerous dog as one that attacks a person or an animal without justification or behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses the threat of bodily injury or death.
For damages other than medical costs, New York follows the one-bite rule. This means that if a victim wants to recover damages for pain and suffering or other losses, they must show that the dog owner knew (or should have known) that the dog was dangerous and failed to prevent the dog from biting. In other words, the owner is not held responsible for the dog’s first bite if he or she had no reason to believe it was aggressive.
Common Legal Defenses from Dog Owners
Dog owners may use a number of defenses to reduce or evade liability for a victim’s injuries. These include:
- The dog was provoked prior to the attack (e.g., the victim was teasing or harassing the dog)
- The dog owner did not know that the dog was predisposed to aggressive behavior
- The dog did not attack without justification
- The dog owner took reasonable precautions to prevent the attack (e.g., keeping the animal fenced on private property), but the bite occurred due to the victim’s own actions (e.g., trespassing).
In addition to civil liability, dog owners may also face criminal penalties for harm caused by their animals in certain cases. For example, the owner of a previously declared dangerous dog may be charged with a misdemeanor if his or her negligence led to a bite that caused serious injuries.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bite Attack?
If you have been attacked by a dog in New York, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights. These include:
- Seeking medical attention: It is important to get medical attention immediately after the bite, especially if you don’t know the dog’s vaccination history or think it be carrying an infectious disease.
- Report the dog bite: You should report the dog bite to the Animal Control Unit of the city of Albany.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information: If you are able, obtain the information about the dog’s owner, address, telephone number and a description of the dog that bit you.
- Talk to witnesses and take pictures: Building a legal claim starts with gathering evidence, including eyewitnesses’ names and contact information, as well as pictures of your injuries.
- Contact a skilled dog bite attorney: The sooner that you call a dog bite lawyer, the sooner that you can learn about your legal options and what it takes to craft a legal claim that protects your interests.
Contact Our Dedicated Albany Dog Bite Lawyers
If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, you need a legal team who can show exactly how the incident has impacted your life. The compassionate attorneys at Belluck & Fox can help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
Our attorneys can arrange a meeting in a location that is comfortable for you for a free consultation. There’s no obligation. In addition, there is no fee for our services unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Contact us today to schedule your no-cost case review.