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Who is Liable in Dog Bite Accidents? 

Posted on 02/28/23

Determining liability after a dog bite incident in New York is important because victims need compensation for their losses. Liability for dog bite incidents in NY is determined through a system of strict liability and negligence. It is important to understand how the dog bylaws apply, particularly if you or a loved one sustain a dog bite injury and need to secure compensation.

Strict Liability for Medical Bills if the Dog is Dangerous

New York uses a quasi-one-bite rule/strict liability system. Under a pure one-bite rule, dog owners are off the hook if the dog has never bitten anybody before or if the owner is unaware of the dog’s ability to cause harm. Under a strict liability system, a dog’s owner will be responsible for medical bills caused by a dog bite, regardless of whether or not the dog has ever bitten anyone before.

In New York, a dog owner will be held strictly liable if the dog is already considered a dangerous dog and causes harm to another as a result of a bite. For example, if the dog has bitten someone before or if the owner knows about the dog’s propensity for aggression, then they will be held strictly liable for any injuries caused by the bite. This will be true even if the owner has taken reasonable steps to restrain or control the dog.

Proving Negligence for Other Injuries Caused by the Dog

For any other types of injuries caused by a dog bite incident or as a result of a non-bite, the injury victim will have to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. For example, it is not uncommon for individuals to sustain non-bite injuries during a dog bite incident, including broken or dislocated bones, strains or sprains, and head injuries from being knocked down. Similarly, a dog does not necessarily have to bite someone for a person to sustain these other types of injuries. A dog may have a propensity for jumping up on individuals, which can lead to significant non-bite injuries.

If an individual wants to recover compensation for a non-bite injury caused by a dog, they will have to prove that the dog owner was negligent. In other words, they need to show that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the injuries from happening, such as failing to control the dog, allowing the dog off-leash, or bringing the dog into an area where dogs are not allowed.

Types of Compensation Available

Dog bite victims and those who sustain other types of injuries caused by dogs may be able to recover a wide range of compensation for their injuries. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Complete coverage of medical bills associated with the dog bite
  • Lost wages if a person is unable to work after the incident
  • Various out-of-pocket expenses arising as a result of the incident
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering damages (typically only available through a lawsuit)

The total amount of compensation available for a dog bite injury will vary depending on several factors, including the injury severity, how long it takes a person to recover, whether or not they can work, and the level of pain and suffering they endure.