Dangerous dog laws exist to protect people against animal attacks. Yet, while these laws have similar intentions, they come with some nuances. Each state has different laws regarding dangerous dogs. For instance, in New York, the dog’s owner is strictly liability for your medical bills but not for pain and suffering.
An attorney can provide more information about dangerous dog laws in your state. In most states, you could recover compensation from the dog’s owner if their pet injures you. When you hire a dog bite attorney, they can help you through the process of filing a claim and building a case against the liable party.
State Statutes Regarding Dangerous Dogs
Many state statutes define a dangerous dog as a dog that has attacked another person or animal, causing serious injury or death. Also, some laws label any dog that a reasonable person believes poses an imminent threat as dangerous.
When a dangerous dog attacks a person or another animal, the owner could have liability for the damages. Whether the injured party must prove negligence depends on many factors, namely, where the incident happened.
If an aggressive dog bit you, you could partner with a lawyer who could manage your case, explain your state’s laws, and pursue financial recovery.
Most Dangerous Dog Laws Include Specifics
After a dog acts aggressively, each state and local ordinance has different laws that determine their response.
Regardless of the jurisdiction, most dangerous dog laws specify:
- Procedures to declare a specific dog as dangerous
- Measures for dog owners to combat accusations
- Conditions that the dog owner must meet to have a dangerous dog
- Penalties for dog owners if they violate certain conditions
Some states allow dog owners to keep dangerous dogs, while others don’t. In some cases, the laws get left up to the specific local government. Because dangerous dog laws can vary so widely based on the exact location of the attack, it helps to have an attorney who can explain your options.
What Constitutes a Dangerous Dog?
Some local governments and agencies will label a dog as dangerous based on its breed alone, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans. That’s because, based on the breed alone, these authorities have deemed these animals inherently dangerous.
Yet, at the state level, there generally aren’t bans on dog breeds. Instead, most state laws focus more on a specific animal’s behavior.
Many states define a dangerous dog as having:
- Attacked someone without provocation (such as jumping on someone and knocking them over)
- Bitten someone without provocation
- Seriously injured a person or another animal
- Killed another person or animal
- Aggressively pursued a person or another animal
- Been trained to fight
When a dog acts dangerously, what happens next depends on the overseeing municipality or state. Some states have one-bite rules, meaning that a dog can bite someone once, and its owner wouldn’t have liability. Others operate on strict liability rules, meaning that if the dog bites someone, the owner is automatically liable even if they weren’t negligent.
Restrictions the Law Puts on Dangerous Dogs
When the law labels a dog as dangerous, they immediately have restrictions on them. These restrictions intend to protect the public.
In general, dog owners must:
- Keep the dog enclosed on their property at all times. If the dog is not on the property, the owner must have them on a strong leash and potentially muzzled in some circumstances.
- Post a sign outside of a fence or enclosure where the dog stays. A warning sign could include a sign that states: Beware of Dog.
Some states could also notify local animal control officials if a dangerous dog gets adopted or sent to another home. Animal control could also put this information on the dog’s microchip in case the dog gets loose and requires apprehension.
If a dog owner doesn’t adhere to the restrictions, and their dog attacks you, you could hold them accountable for your losses. As noted, you could file a claim or lawsuit to seek compensation.
An Attorney Could Build a Case Against the Dog Owner
You have legal rights if you suffered injuries because of a dangerous dog. Yet, to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, you generally must prove negligence. This means showing that because the dog’s owner didn’t manage their pet, you suffered injuries and have damages.
Proving negligence requires evidence. It also requires your lawyer to demonstrate:
The Dog Owner Owed You a Duty of Care
Dog owners have a duty of care to prevent their pets from harming others. Even if a dog has never been aggressive before, owners must still:
- Keep their dogs on leashes
- Muzzle dogs that bite
- Refrain from bringing dangerous dogs to public places, like dog parks
- Keep their pets updated on their vaccines
- Putting up warning signs around a property where the dog resides
- Putting dangerous dogs away when visitors enter the home
The Dog’s Owner Breached Their Duty of Care
After a dog has been deemed dangerous, it is easier to prove what is required in order to pursue compensation for a subsequent bite or attack. For example, in New York, the owner is strictly liable if they knew or had reason to know of the dogs vicious propensity. In other states requiring negligence, your attorney must prove the dog owner breached their duty by not exercising reasonable care. For example, one could breach their duty of care by walking their dog without a leash, allowing it to bite others. In another example, an owner could breach their duty of care if an excited dog jumps on someone and knocks them over, injuring them in the process.
The Dog Owner’s Breach of Duty Caused Your Injuries
Then, your lawyer must prove that because the dog’s owner breached their duty of care, you were injured. Again, negligence is not required in New York. Only proof of prior vicious propensity is required.
To prove negligence, your lawyer needs evidence, such as:
- Security camera footage
- Photos of your injuries
- Eyewitness testimony
- Information from a veterinarian or an animal behavioral specialist
- The dog’s veterinary records
- Your medical treatment information
You Suffered Damages Because of Your Injuries
Lastly, to prove negligence, your attorney must demonstrate you suffered damages because of your injury. For example, if you broke your arm, you could have accrued medical bills or lost income. Also, you could have dealt with significant physical or emotional pain from the broken arm.
Your attorney can collect evidence to prove you sustained damages. Evidence could include receipts, medical bills, pay stubs, and testimony from your medical care provider.
You Can Speak to a Dangerous Dog Lawyer After Suffering Injuries
If you suffered injuries because of a dangerous dog, hiring an attorney can shed light on your situation. They can do more than answer your questions; they can also explain the laws surrounding your case and what they mean regarding financial recovery. In addition, your lawyer can also:
Prove That the Dog Was Dangerous
After learning about your case, the dog’s owner may contest your allegations, saying that their pet wasn’t aggressive. They may argue that you provoked the dog or otherwise instigated the attack. In this situation, your lawyer can use compelling evidence to assert otherwise. They can also use their investigative resources to bolster other aspects of your claim, including the cost of your damages.
Pursue Compensation for Your Losses
Financial recovery could account for more than your past, present, and future medical bills.
It can also cover:
- Your lost income, such as tips, bonuses, benefits, and commissions
- Loss of future earning power
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
You can also pursue the cost of anything you spent out of pocket because of your injuries. For instance, if you had to purchase antibacterial ointment and bandages, you could recoup those losses through a claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer can use receipts to identify your financial losses, while they’ll rely on their experience to calculate your non-economic damages.
Handle Communications With the Involved Parties
To many dog owners, their pets are like their children. So, they take accusations of wrongdoing very seriously, sometimes resorting to aggressive tactics to dissuade you from seeking damages. That’s where having a personal injury lawyer benefits you.
They can handle all emails, text messages, and phone calls from:
- The dog’s owner(s)
- The dog’s veterinarian or trainer
- The organization in charge of the animal (for instance, an animal rescue)
- Any involved insurance representatives
- The at-fault party’s legal team
Submit Your Demand Letter to the Liable Insurer
You might not have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation after suffering a dog attack. Instead, you could file a claim with an insurance company. For instance, if a friend’s dog bit you at a barbecue, you could file a homeowner’s insurance claim. If you were bitten at an animal rescue at a meet-and-greet, you could also file a claim with the organization’s insurer.
Sending a demand letter kicks off your insurance claim. It includes information like the details of the accident, the nature of your condition, and how much money you’re requesting. This is how most personal injury cases resolve.
Negotiate With the Liable Party
The insurance company may read your demand letter and offer less compensation than you need. You don’t have to accept the insurance company’s first offer. Instead, your lawyer can negotiate for a fair outcome.
This may involve:
- Presenting additional forms of evidence
- Revisiting the liable insurance policy
- Consulting with field experts
- Speaking with your healthcare team
File a Lawsuit, if Necessary
If the liable party doesn’t offer a fair amount, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Yet, they must do so before your state’s statute of limitations expires. How long you have to file depends on many factors, including where the incident took place.
To advance your lawsuit, your lawyer can present evidence indicating the dangerous dog caused your injuries. They can also prove you sustained damages and advocate for what you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dangerous Dog Laws
In the aftermath of suffering a dog attack, you may ask:
Can I Recoup Veterinary Bills in My Claim?
You may have suffered injuries while protecting your pet from a violent attack. As part of your claim, you can request compensation for the cost of their veterinary bills. Be sure to keep all receipts and invoices from the vet appointments, as your lawyer could use this information to support the amount you’re requesting.
Does It Matter What Dog Bit Me?
In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter what type of dog bit you. If you suffered injuries and have damages, you can recoup compensation. Still, just like with any dog bite case, you need supporting evidence.
What Should I Do After a Dangerous Dog Bites Me?
You should seek medical attention in the immediate aftermath of a dog bite. Animals carry a lot of bacteria in their mouths, and you don’t want to risk contracting an infection. In addition to protecting your health, the information you get from your doctor can support your claim.
How Much Is the Average Dog Attack Settlement?
There isn’t a centralized database that keeps track of the average compensation rates for dog bite claims and lawsuits. How much you can recover depends on many aspects unique to your situation, including the extent of your injuries. This is yet another reason to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. They can assess your damages and explain what would constitute a fair settlement offer.
You Can Explore Your Options Now During a Free Case Review
By contacting a Long Island personal injury lawyer soon after an incident involving a dangerous dog, you can get the help you need. They can explain the dangerous dog laws in your area. Also, your attorney can provide legal guidance so you know your options moving forward. No matter where you live, you have legal rights.