If a dog injured you or a loved one, you and your family may recover significant financial compensation.
First, you must prove the dog owner’s liability for your injuries. You cannot hold the dog’s owner liable simply because the attack happened. Instead, you can only hold the dog’s owner legally responsible after you prove that the dog has dangerous tendencies.
To carry your burden of proof, hire an experienced dog bite lawyer to represent you in your claim or lawsuit.
Dogs Bite Millions of People Each Year
Every day, more than 1,000 people receive treatment in emergency rooms for non-fatal dog bite injuries. Over 4.5 million people suffer dog bites annually throughout the United States.
Many dog bite victims who suffered a severe injury are small children. Dogs tend to bite small children more often because they are territorial animals and view small children as encroaching on their territory. In addition, children may not know how to properly approach an animal, causing the dog to become stressed and self-protective.
Dog bites often occur in more urbanized areas like Long Island. People are out walking their dogs on streets and in heavily populated parks. Animals may not have training to behave in public around other people.
In addition, delivery people approach the doorstep on their busy urbanized roots, and dogs may attack them at their homes.
Whatever the reason or circumstances, you can hold the dog’s owner liable for your damages.
How People Suffer Injuries in Dog Bite Attacks
Dogs may injure people in two ways:
- The dog can bite someone.
- The victim may suffer an injury from a charging dog, either when the animal jumps on top of them, or they try to escape the animal.
Some states will differentiate between injuries caused by a dog bite and those caused by an attacking dog. New York law just addresses compensation for injuries caused by dogs. The same rules apply to both situations.
Dog bite laws are a combination of state law principles and local ordinances. State law will provide the legal backdrop for determining when someone should be liable when their dog causes an injury. Local ordinances impose controls on how an owner should handle their dog. For example, leash laws can be a local ordinance.
New York Dog, Bite Liability Laws, Are a Hybrid of Systems
New York dog bite liability law states that an owner is strictly liable for injuries a dangerous dog causes.
New York dog bite laws are unique. They are not a purely strict liability that automatically makes an owner liable when a dog happens. They are also not purely one free bite, where you must prove that the owner was careless with a dog that had previously attacked or acted aggressively towards another person or animal.
New York laws fall somewhere in between the two. New York law holds a dog’s owner strictly liable for injuries caused to others when their animal is dangerous. In other words, it blends elements of the two different principles of liability used throughout the country.
What Is a Dangerous Dog in New York?
The law defines a dangerous dog as one that:
- Has attacked and injured or killed a person, farm animal, or pet without justification, or
- Has behaved in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.
In other words, the dog must have a prior track record of dangerous conduct. Unlike other states, you cannot prove a dog dangerous because they have acted aggressively. A reasonable person must have at least feared imminent physical severe injury. This requirement means you must know about the dog that injured you or your loved one, or be able to uncover records supporting a prior history of aggression.
In addition, you must also show that an ordinary person will reasonably be afraid of imminent serious physical injury. A dog growling and baring its teeth may not be enough to be considered a fear of imminent injury by a reasonable person.
You Have the Burden of Proof in a Dog Bite Case
Accordingly, you may need help in meeting your burden of proof to be in a position to receive compensation. You cannot just file an insurance claim with evidence that you suffered an injury due to a dog. You will need to investigate the dog.
It can help if law enforcement has previously declared the dog dangerous after a report of an aggression. In addition, some localities, such as Suffolk County, maintain a registry of previous dog bites that can give evidence of whether the dog previously injured someone.
Reasons Why a Dog May Not Be Considered Dangerous
However, dogs may escape the legally dangerous designation if:
- The dog attacked someone trespassing at its home
- The dog defended its owner or its puppies
- Torment or abuse (such as someone accidentally stepping on its tail) provoked the dog
- The dog reacted to pain or suffering
There Are No Dog Breed Specific Laws in New York
New York law does not automatically impose liability for dangerous breeds of dogs. The term dangerous dog relates to the dog’s history, not its breed. No special laws relate to breeds like pit bulls or Doberman pinschers. Pit bulls are fully legal in New York State, although a recent horrific attack on two toddlers has led to talk of banning the animals throughout the state.
How to Get Financial Compensation in a Dog Bite Injury Case
New York’s dog bite laws incorporate elements from both strict liability and one free bite statutes. You need a lawyer to do a considerable amount of legal work before you can receive financial compensation for your injuries.
Once a dog bite or dog attack has injured you or a loved one, you may:
- File a claim with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy
- File a lawsuit against the dog owner in court that the insurance company will defend
Either route will require your lawyer to produce the necessary evidence to show that the dog’s owner should be liable for the injury.
Here is some evidence that can help you prove that the dog’s owner was at fault:
You Can File a Lawsuit Against the Dog’s Owner in Court
If the insurance company denies your claim, you can sue the dog’s owner in court. A jury will expect you to have the same evidence that the insurance company demanded. However, a jury is an unbiased decision maker without the financial interest that the insurance company has.
Do Not Try to Handle Your Dog Bite Case By Yourself
You should not attempt to handle a dog bite case alone Your lawyer must investigate your case and gather evidence on other incidents involving this dog.
If you file a dog bite claim without an attorney, you risk getting nothing for your injuries. In addition, you also run the risk of getting far too little compensation for your injuries if you receive a settlement offer.
Financial Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
You may be entitled to significant financial compensation if you prove the dog’s owner is legally responsible for your injuries. According to State Farm Insurance, the average value of a dog bite settlement in New York exceeded $78,000 in just one year.
This number requires several qualifiers:
- As reported, the figure is just the average – your case can be worth far more based on the severity of your injuries.
- The average figure does not break settlements down to cases where the claimant had an attorney versus those where they were self-represented. Those who hire an attorney for their case will typically do far better because the lawyer knows how to negotiate with the insurance company.
- The statistics represent just cases that State Farm has settled. If the insurance company will not settle the case or make a fair settlement offer, you can take your case to court. A jury may award you more than you can have received in a settlement.
How Much Money You May Get for Your Dog Bite Injuries
In a dog bite case, you may receive compensation for the following elements of your damages:
- The costs of your medical expenses (including hospitalization and any surgical procedures that you need)
- Lost income for time missed from work (or time that you needed to take off to care for an injured child)
- Pain and suffering, which can be considerable when you have suffered a severe injury and need reconstructive surgery, or you have sustained permanent nerve damages
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Your damages can be significant, especially when you need multiple surgeries or have suffered permanent injuries. You can and should fight for every dollar you deserve in compensation from the dog’s owner.
How a Dog Bite Injury Attorney Can Help You
A dog bite injury attorney can:
- Investigate the circumstances of the attack and gather evidence that can prove that the dog’s owner should be held responsible
- Estimate the value of your damages so that you can seek the right amount in your claim
- Prepare the claim on your behalf and file it with the insurance company
- Handle all communications on your behalf so you do not need to deal directly with the insurance company
- Negotiate compensation in a dog bite settlement, responding to settlement offers with your own counterproposal
- Argue your case in court if your claim ends in denial or you choose to bypass the insurance company’s claims process
- Serve as your guide to the legal process, answering all your questions and presenting your options for obtaining financial compensation
Contact a dog bite injury lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. You will need to move quickly to obtain evidence that will prove liability.
You Can Afford a Dog Bite Lawyer for Your Case
Money should not be an issue when hiring a dog-bite attorney. Like every personal injury lawyer, your attorney will work for you on a contingency basis. They will not ask you to give them a retainer check as a condition for representing you. They will also not send you hourly bills throughout your case.
The only time that they receive fees is when you receive money in your case. If, for some reason, your claim does not succeed, you will not owe your lawyer anything.
You have no reason to delay seeking legal help. A lawyer can relieve stress and allow you to focus on your medical treatment and healing. After a traumatizing attack, you should not attempt to file an insurance claim alone. Insurers will take advantage of you, trying to push an inadequate settlement on you.
A personal injury attorney in Long Island is the advocate you need. They will provide advice, support, and representation every step of the way.