Unlike many other states in the U.S., New York does not hold dog owners strictly liable for the actions of their pet. Rather, the burden of proof is placed on the victim. As such, it would be the responsibility of the victim to prove that one of three circumstances existed: 1) the owner knew, or should have known, of the dog's violent propensities, 2) the owner was unaware of the dog's vicious tendencies, but negligently caused the attack or 3) they were attacked by a "dangerous dog." If the plaintiff can prove that the owner had prior knowledge of the dog's violent behavior and/or they had negligently contributed to the attack, strict liability would be imposed for any injuries that were sustained. If the victim can show that they had been attacked by a "dangerous dog," however, they would be able to recover damages under the common law and the Dangerous Dog Statute.
According to the Dangerous Dog Statute, a dangerous dog would be:
- Any dog that attacks a person, companion animal or domestic animal without justification, and subsequently causes physical injury or death.
- Any dog that behaves in such a manner that would pose a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.
- Any dog that attacks a service dog, guide dog or hearing dog without justification, and subsequently causes physical injury or death.
Since New York falls under a "mixed" category when it comes to regulating dog owner liability, the victim of an animal attack would be able to recover minimal compensation for the cost of their medical bills even if they were unable to prove that the dog had vicious tendencies. If they were able to prove that the dog had previously attacked another person and/or that the owner was aware of their pet's dangerous habits, they would be able to seek damages for pain and suffering, as well. Similarly, the owner who negligently permitted their dog to attack another person would be subject to a civil penalty of $1,500. If the dog had previously been deemed "dangerous," the owner could be penalized by 90 days' imprisonment and a $3,000 fine. Finally, the owner would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor if they had negligently allowed a dangerous dog to attack and kill another person—which is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Regardless of the circumstances under which you were injured, the Long Island personal injury lawyers at The Odierno Law Firm, P.C. welcome the opportunity to review your case for free. All you have to do is call our office at (877) 379-5144 or submit a complimentary case evaluation form online.