Dog Bite & Other Animal Bite Cases

Our personal injury lawyers know that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dog bites affect more than 4.7 million Americans each year. Over a million of these cases are severe enough to require medical attention and some even result in death. We often see media reports concerning certain breeds of dogs, yet any type of dog can cause serious injuries, particularly to children.

It has been said that New York has a “one bite” rule where once an animal has bitten someone, the owner will be responsible for the animal’s bad behavior. This is not completely accurate. Although a plaintiff must demonstrate that an animal had certain aggressive tendencies, those tendencies can be demonstrated in many ways. A dog baring its teeth, charging aggressively, jumping or chasing individuals may be enough to establish an owner’s knowledge of problems with the animal.

It is also important to note that a dog need not bite in order to cause injuries nor for an owner to be held responsible. The owner of a dog who has a history of jumping or chasing, for example, can be held responsible if that conduct causes an injury.

In fact, an owner’s liability for injuries caused by animals is not limited to dogs.  Under New York case law, the owner of a domestic animal will be held strictly liable for the harm caused by the animal if it is shown that: (1) the animal had prior tendencies for the bad conduct that caused the injury, and (2) that the owner of the animal knew, or should have known, of those tendencies. In some situations, a landowner or landlord may also be held responsible for animals kept on his property. Likewise, someone keeping someone else’s animal can also be responsible for its behavior. This includes dogs and other domestic animals such as cows, horses or even pigs that may cause harm due to the owner’s negligent conduct. Common examples are when animals are left to wander or escape from poor fencing and cause motor vehicle accidents or damage to property.

If an animal has injured you, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An early investigation concerning the animal at issue and its prior behavior is essential since the owner may give away or even euthanize the animal in question. Our attorneys have experience handling all aspects of dog bite cases, including:

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