Dog Bite Law 101

Whether you’re a dog owner or simply find that you have significant interaction with dogs, it is important to know the law regarding injuries caused by dog bites.

While dog bite claims often involve someone being bitten, it is important to note that an individual does not have to actually be bitten by a dog to have a claim. If someone is scraped, scratched or injured while escaping a dog attack, they may also have a legal claim against the dog owner.

New York dog bite law has elements of strict liability1, and what is known as the “one-bite” rule.2, 3 According to New York state law, a dog owner is strictly liable for all medical costs associated with a dog bite. However, in order to recover anything more than medical costs, the injured party must prove that the dog owner was aware of or should have been aware of the dog’s propensity to attack.

To prove that the dog owner knew of the dog’s propensity to attack, courts will look to a number of factors such as any one of or a combination of the following: the dog commonly growls or bears its teeth to others, and/or dog owner has warned others that the dog is an attack dog or has a tendency to bite, and/or the dog is commonly restrained. Of course this is by no means a comprehensive list, and whether a dog owner knew or should have known of a dog’s propensity to attack is determined on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to the civil liability, a dog owner may be criminally liable, especially if the dog was previously legally determined to be a “dangerous dog.”3

If you or someone you know have been injured by a dog attack, contact the skilled attorneys at MHM to discuss your potential legal remedies.

[1] Strict liability means that the wrongdoer is considered liable or at fault regardless of intent and/or negligence.

[2] The one-bite rule is a legal doctrine wherein the state determines if the owner of a dog who has not previously bitten anyone should be held accountable for the dog bite.

[3] See New York state’s Agriculture & Markets Law, § 121, available at: http://codes. lp.

Photo Source: Timtuttle via Flickr, CC 2.0