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Were You Bitten By A Dog? Who Is Liable For Your Injuries?

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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Manhattan residents love their dogs, and the city streets are often filled with thousands of the furry creatures each day as they are walked and paraded about. However, not every dog has a wonderful temperament, and it only takes one unfortunate incident for a Manhattan resident to cross paths with a dog in a bad mood and receive a dog bite that causes pain and injury.

Granted, not all dog bites are the dog’s or the dog owner’s fault, but there are several actions that a dog owner must take in order to ensure that others are safe from any possible harm when near their dog. Much of this is common knowledge, but New York personal injury attorneys still see dog bite cases rise year after year.

The reasons for dog bites are many, and most often could be easily prevented. Some of the ways in which dog bites could be prevented include:

  • Dogs should be properly trained not to be aggressive.
  • Dogs should always be kept on a leash when in public.
  • Dogs who are prone to biting or continue to show aggressive behavior should be kept muzzled when out in public.
  • Dogs should be kept in another room if visitors are in the house and the dog liable not to act friendly.

If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog and you have reason to believe that it was due to the dog owner’s negligence and failure to restrain the dog in a proper manner, or some other reason not listed above, then you may have a right to file a lawsuit with the aid of a New York personal injury attorney.

Who’s Liable?

Those injured usually have the law on their side. In the old days, the law gave dog owners what was called “one free bite.” Put simply, an owner wasn’t liable for injuries unless the dog had already shown it was likely to hurt someone. The dog didn’t actually have to bite someone — for example, if your dog lunged at the neighbor, teeth bared, you were considered to be on notice that the dog might bite.

But most states now make owners liable for any harm their dog causes, whether or not the owner had reason to suspect that the dog was dangerous. Dog owners can find themselves on the hook for an injured person’s medical expenses and lost wages, or even the therapy bills of a traumatized child. The dog owner may not be liable if the dog was provoked, or if the injured person was trespassing, but claims like these are often very hard to prove after the fact.

It’s also up to you, as a responsible pet owner, to spay or neuter your dog. It will cut down not only on the number of unwanted dogs, but also on injuries to people. Unsterilized dogs are three times more likely to bite, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Sterilization will also make it easier to keep your dog from straying.

Here are some other simple steps to take:

  • Never let a dog run at large. In some states, you’re automatically liable for any injury your dog causes while at large.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations current. Rabies vaccinations are required by law. If your dog bites someone, the authorities, not to mention the victim, will view it a lot more seriously if the dog hasn’t had a recent rabies shot.
  • Keep the dog out of strangers’ paths. Lots of people — mail carriers, salespeople, poll-takers, girl scouts — routinely come to your front door. Keep the dog away from it. A fenced front yard isn’t good enough; most people will open a gate and walk on up to the door.
  • Post warning signs. If you have any reason to think that your dog might injure someone coming onto your property, post “Beware of Dog” signs prominently. But remember that young children can’t read. If you think children might still be at risk, put a lock on the gate.

For a free legal consultation, call (212) 540-2982

Teach Your Children:

Children are much more likely to be bitten than are adults, and boys are more likely to be bitten than girls. In large part, these injuries occur because the children have never been taught how to behave around dogs. All kids should know these basic rules:

  • Don’t pet a dog without letting the dog sniff you first.
  • Never disturb a dog that’s eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.
  • Don’t run from a dog.
  • Try not to make eye contact with a dog; it can be threatening to a dog.
  • Finally, don’t assume that familiarity breeds safety. Many children are bitten by dogs they are familiar with, on the dog’s home turf. Children may take more chances with a dog they know, and a dog is more protective in its own home.

Call or text (212) 540-2982 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form

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