A Guide to Dog Bites & Dog-Related Injuries in New York
angry dog with bared teeth

New York Dog Bite Injury Attorney

A Guide to Dog Bites & Dog-Related Injuries in New York

Dog bites are extremely common — in fact, millions occur in the United States every year. Sometimes, these bites are so minor that they don’t require any medical attention at all. But many other attacks result in serious injuries. Even small puncture wounds can be painful, become infected, or transmit disease, such as rabies. Dogs can also cause many types of non-bite injuries, such as scratches, bone fractures, and ligament damage. 

If you’ve been injured by a dog, the impact is often both physical and emotional. You may also be dealing with financial pressure due to medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. This guide will help you gain a general understanding of your rights in New York and how dog-related injury claims work, so that you can pursue compensation for these losses. 

However, keep in mind that dog-related injury laws in New York are complicated. They’re also not as protective of victims as laws in many other states. For the best chances of receiving compensation, it’s important to work with a personal injury attorney who’s experienced navigating New York’s dog-related injury laws.

Many states have statutes that hold dog owners strictly liable if their dog bites someone. In those states, it doesn’t matter whether the dog has been well-behaved its entire life, or if the owner took precautions to prevent their dog from biting others. Once the dog bites someone, the owner is responsible for those injuries. 

Unfortunately, the law in New York is more nuanced and makes it more difficult for victims to recover compensation than in other states. There are generally four types of claims that a dog-related injury victim in New York can pursue: 

  • a strict liability claim under New York’s Agriculture & Markets Code Section 123 (New York’s “dangerous dog” statute) against the dog’s owner for medical costs only
  • a common law strict liability claim against the owner for all types of damages
  • a common law strict liability claim against a landlord for all types of damages
  • a negligence claim against a party other than the dog’s owner for all types of damages 

Each of these types of claims is described briefly below. 

Strict liability claims under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute

Under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for medical bills (or veterinary bills, in the case of injured animals) if:

Because the statute imposes strict liability, it doesn’t matter if the dog never actually harmed anyone before, or if the owner took precautions to prevent such injuries — the owner will still be responsible for medical bills. Under the statute, the “owner” is the person who harbors or keeps the dog. 

Over $50 Million in Recoveries for Clients

With over 50 years of combined experience, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Call: 888-815-3649

Common law strict liability claims

As noted above, strict liability claims under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute require that the dog be previously declared a “dangerous dog.” The statute also only provides for recovery of medical costs. To pursue other types of damages, the victim can pursue a common law strict liability claim. This type of claim requires proving that:

  • the dog had vicious propensities, and 
  • the owner knew or should have known of such tendencies. 

If these two requirements are satisfied, and the dog injures you, the owner will be strictly liable for your losses. These losses may include economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and psychological or emotional trauma.

In some cases, you may also be able to pursue a common law strict liability claim against a landlord if you were bitten by a tenant’s dog. This cause of action is based on a landlord’s general duty to protect those on their property from unreasonable risk of harm. To hold the landlord liable for a dog-related injury, you must prove:

  • the landlord had notice that the dog was on the premises, 
  • the landlord knew or should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, and
  • the landlord had sufficient control of the premises to be able to confine or remove the dog.

Negligence claims

In a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant behaved unreasonably under the circumstances (or “negligently”), and that their unreasonable behavior resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Unlike many other states, New York generally doesn’t allow negligence claims against dog owners. However, you may be able to pursue a negligence claim against another defendant. 

For example, in Hewitt v. Palmer Veterinary, the plaintiff was bitten by a dog while in a veterinary clinic’s waiting room. She commenced a negligence action against the clinic, alleging that the clinic breached its duty to provide a safe waiting room by bringing an “agitated, distressed” dog into the waiting area. The trial court dismissed the negligence action, holding that the plaintiff could only recover under a strict liability theory, and therefore had to prove that the defendant had notice of the dog’s vicious propensities. This decision was upheld by the Appellate Court, but then overturned by the Court of Appeals. In doing so, the Court of Appeals held that it was undisputed that the clinic owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, and that the clinic was uniquely well-equipped to guard against the risk of aggressive animals in their practices. As a result, they did not need the protection of the vicious propensities notice requirement, and a negligence claim could proceed.

For more information about each type of dog-related injury claim, see Elements of a Dog-Related Injury Claim. Note that defendants may raise certain defenses that could result in a court reducing or denying compensation for a victim. See Pursuing Compensation for more information about building a case and pursuing compensation, including common defenses.

Criminal and civil penalties for the dog owner

If a dog bites or injures someone, the owner may also be subject to penalties under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute. First, if a dog owner negligently allowed their dog to bite a person, service dog, guide dog, or hearing dog, causing physical injury, the owner will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $400. And if a dog owner negligently allows their dog to bite someone, causing serious injury, the owner will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000. 

An injury is considered “serious” if:

  • it causes death or presents the risk of death, or 
  • causes serious or long-term disfigurement, impairment of health, or loss or impairment of any bodily organ.

An owner can also face misdemeanor charges if:

  • the owner negligently allows their dog to bite a person,
  • the dog was previously declared a “dangerous dog,” and
  • the resulting injury is a serious injury.

Such charges are punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $3,000. If a “dangerous dog” escapes and kills a person without justification, the owner can face Class A misdemeanor charges as well. If convicted, the owner will face up to one year in jail or three years probation, plus a fine of up to $1,000. This is true even if the dog escapes without fault of the owner. 

Declaring a dog a “dangerous dog” in New York

As explained above, in some cases, an owner’s liability for a dog-related injury will depend on whether their dog was previously declared a “dangerous dog.” A “dangerous dog” is defined under New York’s “dangerous dog” statue as one that:

  • attacks and injures or kills a person, companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal without justification, or
  • behaves in a way that would make a reasonable person believe it posed a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death” to a person, companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal.

New York state law doesn’t identify any specific dog breeds as inherently dangerous. If any dog attacks or threatens to attack, any witness to such behavior can make a complaint to the appropriate authorities, such as the local animal control office, health department, or police. If the authorities believe the dog may be dangerous, they’ll begin the formal process of deciding whether to declare the dog a “dangerous dog.” 

At the beginning of these proceedings, the judge will decide if there’s sufficient grounds to believe the dog is a dangerous dog. If so, the court will issue an order to seize the dog and hold the dog pending the hearing. At the hearing, the complaining party will have to present evidence that the dog is a “dangerous dog.” Note that a dog won’t be declared dangerous if the court determines that the dog’s behavior was justified because:

  • the person who was threatened or injured or sustained damages by the dog was committing a crime or offense upon the owner or the property of the owner;
  • the person who was threatened, injured, or killed was tormenting, abusing, assaulting or physically threatening the dog or its offspring, or had done so in the past;
  • the dog was responding to pain or injury;
  • the dog was protecting itself, its owner, a member of its household, its kennels, or its offspring; or
  • the injured, threatened, or killed companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal was attacking or threatening to attack the dog or its offspring.

The testimony of a certified animal behaviorist or other recognized expert will be taken into account to determine whether the dog’s behavior was justified for one of the above reasons. 

If the judge finds that the dog is dangerous, they must order neutering/spaying and microchipping of the dog. The judge may also require the owner to fulfill other requirements that they believe are necessary for the protection of the public, such as:

  • having the dog evaluated by an appropriate expert and completing training or other treatment as deemed appropriate by such expert, to be paid by the owner;
  • confining the dog for a period and in a manner deemed appropriate by the court;
  • restraining the dog by a leash by an adult of at least 21 years old whenever the dog is in public;
  • muzzling the dog whenever it’s in public; and/or
  • maintaining a liability insurance policy in an amount determined by the court.

If a dog is declared dangerous and the case involves serious physical injury or death, the judge may also order euthanasia or permanent confinement.

Certain jobs require workers to come into contact with dogs on a regular basis. If you’re an employee and were bitten or otherwise injured by a dog while on the job (such as when delivering mail or packages, checking utilities, performing property repairs, or house cleaning), your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance may be another source of compensation. This will require working with your employer to file a claim. 

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you should get benefits regardless of who was at fault — whether the dog’s owner, you, your employer, or someone else. In exchange for these benefits, you typically cannot sue your employer for compensation unless they engaged in intentional misconduct. Just like any other on-the-job injuries, you should be sure to get medical attention promptly and report the injury as work-related. If you fail to report your injuries or get medical attention, your chances of getting workers’ compensation benefits decrease greatly.

Also keep in mind that not all workers are covered under the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation insurance only covers employees — not “independent contractors.” If you’re issued a W-2, it means the business has classified you as an employee. If you’re issued a 1099, the business has classified you as an independent contractor. 

However, sometimes businesses misclassify employees as independent contractors, whether intentionally or unintentionally. An attorney can help you confirm your proper classification and pursue compensation from the appropriate source — whether through workers’ compensation, from the dog owner, and/or from another responsible party. 

An attorney can also be helpful even if you’re classified as an employee and know the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It’s not uncommon for insurers to resist paying out full benefits, especially if your injuries require extensive medical treatment or long periods off from work. With an attorney advocating on your behalf, you’re much more likely to get the compensation that’s rightfully yours. 

If you’re worried about how your employers might react if you seek workers’ compensation, it may be helpful to know that it’s against New York law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for claiming or attempting to claim workers’ compensation benefits. This means your employer may not fire you, demote you, treat you unfairly, or otherwise retaliate against you for pursuing workers’ compensation. If your employer does retaliate, you can file a complaint with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. If you experience any problems, you should keep detailed records of all incidents and consult an attorney.

Finally, keep in mind that even if you pursue a workers’ compensation claim, you may still be able to pursue other types of claims as well. You will be barred from suing your employer due to workers’ compensation laws, but it may still be possible to file a claim against a third party that’s not your employer, such as the dog’s owner. The interaction between different types of claims can become complicated. It’s best to have the same attorney investigate the incident, identify all the options available to you, and handle the workers’ compensation claim and any personal injury claims you may have.

Dog-on-dog attacks

As noted above, New York’s “dangerous dog” statute also covers attacks on companion animals, farm animals, and domestic animals. That means if a previously declared “dangerous dog” harms your dog or other pet, the owner will be strictly liable for veterinary bills, regardless of the dog’s behavioral history or what precautions the owner took. 

You may also be able to pursue a common law strict liability claim if the dog had vicious propensities and the owner was aware of such propensities. Since pets are generally considered property in the eyes of the law, you won’t be able to get compensation for non-economic damages, such as mental distress. However, a common law strict liability claim can allow you to recover all types of economic losses, such as lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses. In rare cases, punitive damages are possible as well. Punitive damages are awarded to injured parties to punish people for especially bad behavior and to deter them from continuing the behavior that led to the lawsuit in the first place.

In Nardi v. Gonzalez, for example, the defendant’s dog attacked the plaintiffs’ dog, causing severe injuries. The defendant’s dog had previously attacked the plaintiffs’ other dog on two separate occasions, also causing injuries for which they won compensation in an earlier lawsuit. Based on these prior attacks, the court found that the defendant’s dog had vicious propensities, and that the defendant was well aware of such propensities. As a result, she was held liable for the plaintiffs’ economic damages. The fact that the defendant built a fence to keep the dog in her yard was irrelevant, since all the elements for a common law strict liability cause of action were satisfied. The court also chose to impose punitive damages to 1) encourage the defendant to take appropriate measures in the future to protect her neighbors, and 2) to deter other owners from failing to protect humans and other animals from vicious and dangerous dogs.

Common types of injuries

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits each year for dog bites. The estimated cost of these bites is at least $400 million per year. One study also found that the average dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, or approximately 50% higher than the average injury-related hospital stay. But bites aren’t the only kind of dog-related injury. 

Even if a dog doesn’t bite, it may still cause other injuries in an attack. For example, you may get knocked down or sustain other serious injuries trying to fight off a dog. Accidents can also occur when trying to escape or avoid a dog, whether on foot or on a skateboard, bicycle, or motorcycle. 

Some common types of dog-related injuries include:

  • Puncture wounds, cuts, lacerations, and abrasions
  • Damage to tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves
  • Broken, fractured, and crushed bones (either from being knocked down or by the force of the bite)
  • Neck, shoulder, and back injuries, such as herniated, bulging, or ruptured discs
  • Facial/eye trauma (especially among small children or others who come face-to-face with the dog)
  • Head and traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and hemorrhaging 
  • Deep bruising
  • Amputation
  • Disfigurement 

Dog bites present the risk of diseases like rabies and tetanus as well. While these diseases are rare, they can be fatal if left untreated. This is why it’s important to find out the vaccination status of any dog that attacks you and immediately consult with a medical professional to determine if you need any vaccinations or other treatment.

There are also many types of bacteria in dogs’ mouths that may cause infection if transferred to you through an open wound. For example, Staphylococcus and Pasteurella can cause symptoms like red, hot, swollen skin and chronic infections of deep tissues and bone. Capnocytophaga is another common bacteria in the mouths of dogs that may cause infection. While such infections are rare, people with weakened immune systems are especially at risk of becoming ill with symptoms like:

  • blisters, swelling, and redness around the wound
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • muscle or joint point
  • blood infection
  • gangrene
  • kidney failure

Some of the dog-related injuries discussed above are relatively minor and require no medical attention. But in the worst case scenario, dog injuries can be fatal, especially when small children are involved. Many others are extremely painful and can have a significant impact on your life, either temporarily or permanently. 

For example, some dog bite victims may need to undergo reconstructive surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are over 40,000 surgical procedures per year to repair damage from dog bites. Even if you don’t need reconstructive surgery, you may still need to go through rehabilitation, physical therapy, or other prolonged medical treatment. You also may not be able to work (or be limited in the type of work you’re able to do), carry out your everyday activities, or care for your family. Dog attacks can result in psychological trauma as well, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other issues that can impact your life for a long time. 

Calculating all of your economic and non-economic losses resulting from a dog attack is not easy to do on your own. This is another reason why it’s important to engage an experienced attorney. Your attorney will work with the appropriate experts to determine the full extent of your losses and help you pursue the right amount of compensation. 

Dog attacks are often surprising and frightening, and it can be difficult to think clearly in the immediate aftermath. But to preserve your chances of getting appropriate compensation for any losses, it’s important to take the steps below as soon as possible. 

Get medical attention.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five people bitten by a dog requires medical attention. You should get emergency medical attention for any deep lacerations or heavy bleeding, broken bones, or other severe injuries. But if you have open wounds of any kind (whether a bite, scratch, or otherwise), it’s still a good idea to get medical care right away so the doctor can determine if you need vaccinations or other treatment to prevent infection and disease (such as rabies). 

Getting prompt medical care isn’t just important for your wellbeing — it’s also important for any claim you may file later on. If you delay or refuse medical treatment, the defendant may argue that your injuries weren’t caused by the dog. You should also make sure you follow your doctor’s orders for caring for your injuries, including any follow-up visits. If you fail to follow instructions and the injury ends up worse than it otherwise would have been, your compensation may be affected. 

Be sure to keep records of all medical visits, treatments, tests, and prescriptions related to your injuries. Also be sure to document all other expenses relating to the attack.

Identify the dog’s owner.

If the owner is present, take down their contact details and try to get information about the dog, including whether its vaccinations are current. If the dog is with someone else, take down their information and try to get the details of the owner as well. You should also take note of where the attack occurred, including an address, if possible. 

Other than getting this information, it’s best to limit your interactions with the owner and other parties. Don’t discuss details about what happened, admit any fault, or say you’re “fine.” If you need to pursue a claim later on, these statements may be used against you.

If no one is with the dog during the incident or you otherwise can’t identify the owner, the police or the local animal control office may be able to help you identify the owner. Finding the dog owner is often crucial for getting compensation.

Report the incident.

Even if you have the owner’s information, you should report any dog attack to the relevant authorities. Depending on where you’re located, this may be the local animal control office, health department, or police. If you feel like the dog poses an immediate threat to you or others, you should immediately contact the police. 

Official reports of the dog attack will serve as important evidence for any claim you might file later on. It also helps protect others, as it documents the dog’s history of being vicious. This may not be the first time the dog has attacked someone, and it also may not be the last. 

Take photos and/or videos.

Your medical records will document your treatment, but they don’t usually include photos. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So as soon as you’re able, take photos and video of your injuries. Also take pictures of your injuries over time, including any scarring or disfigurement. This evidence can go a long way in persuading a court about the seriousness of your injuries. It’s also helpful to take photos or video of the scene of the attack, the dog that attacked you, anyone accompanying the dog, and any other relevant items, such as torn or bloody clothing. 

Get contact information from witnesses.

If any bystanders witnessed the attack, try to get their contact information. If you file a claim, you and your attorney may need to reach out to them again later on. As always, be careful not to discuss what happened or admit any responsibility for the attack during your interactions, as this may hurt your case.

Write down your account of events.

As time passes, it’s normal to begin to forget details about the incident. So while the incident is still fresh in your memory, you should take the time to write down your own account of what happened. Take note of where the attack occurred and try to include as many details as possible about what you saw and heard. Some details may seem insignificant, but may actually be very important to your case. You may also want to keep a journal about your physical and mental state and document how the injuries are impacting your life. This narrative may be helpful later on when you explain what happened to a lawyer and begin building your case.

Contact a lawyer.

Consulting an attorney as soon as possible is one of the most important steps to take after a dog bite or other dog-related injury. Trying to navigate the insurance and legal systems on your own isn’t easy. Without the right experience and a thorough understanding of relevant laws, it’s easy to make mistakes that could harm your ability to get compensation. 

By getting an experienced personal injury attorney on your side immediately, you’ll have someone to guide you through the entire process, help you meet all legal requirements, and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation. (See Finding an Attorney for Your Case.) Your attorney will also help make sure you meet strict legal and insurance deadlines for filing a claim. If you miss these deadlines, you’ll no longer be able to pursue compensation. (See Pursuing Compensation — Statute of limitations.)  

Finding an Attorney for Your Case

The laws in New York relating to dog bites and other dog-related injuries are complex. They’re also less protective of victims than the laws in many other states. As a result, there are many opportunities to make mistakes that could hurt your chances of getting compensation. In addition, in every case, the dog owner and their insurer will do everything they can to reduce or eliminate their liability. It’s very common for insurance companies to offer settlements that are much lower than you actually deserve, or even deny responsibility completely.  

To increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome, it’s important to engage a New York personal injury attorney who’s familiar with dog-related injury laws. By working with the right attorney, you’ll have someone experienced on your side who can navigate the legal and insurance systems and advocate for your best interests. In particular, your attorney will:

  • help you understand your rights and options;
  • investigate your case and identify all legally responsible parties;
  • establish the potential value of your claim;
  • handle all communications and negotiations with third parties, including insurance companies;
  • gather evidence and interview witnesses;
  • engage appropriate experts to support your case; and
  • navigate complicated court procedures and legal requirements.

While it may be tempting to wait until you’ve recovered to find a lawyer, it’s critical to act promptly. If you wait too long, important evidence may be lost. You may also miss strict legal and insurance deadlines. If this happens, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all.

By hiring an attorney right away, you’ll be in a much better position to build a strong case, meet all deadlines, and get the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will handle the entire legal process for you, including dealing with all calls about the incident from the dog owner’s insurer and anyone else. This means you can concentrate on your recovery, with the peace of mind that an experienced professional is working diligently on your behalf to protect your interests.

When meeting with a potential attorney, you should bring any evidence you have with you. This may include:

  • medical records (bills, diagnoses, MRI/CT/test results, etc.)
  • photos or videos related to the incident, such as your injuries, the dog that attacked you, and/or the scene of the attack
  • any contact information you have for the dog owner, their insurer, and any witnesses
  • your own written account of what happened before, during, and after the incident
  • any other relevant information or documents

All of this will help the lawyer better understand what happened. If they believe they can help you and you decide to work together, a more thorough investigation will be conducted on your behalf.

What to look for in an attorney

The quality of your attorney will affect the success of your case, so you should choose one carefully. Here are a few things to look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer for your dog bite or dog-related injury case:

  • Experience. The attorney you choose should have experience with similar cases, including dealing with the insurance system and all relevant laws. During your initial consultation, it’s a good idea to ask about the attorney’s specific experience, including how long they’ve been practicing and how many cases they’ve handled. 
  • Results. You’ll likely have plenty of choices when looking for a personal injury attorney. But even among experienced lawyers, some are able to achieve better results than others. This is why it’s also a good idea to ask for a short list of an attorney’s biggest settlements and verdicts. If an attorney can show a strong record of successful verdicts, that will tell you that they’re not afraid of bringing a case to trial. This is important, because sometimes going to trial is necessary to get fair compensation. 
  • Resources. Preparing, negotiating, and litigating a personal injury case is time-consuming and expensive. That’s true even if a case settles, and a settlement is never guaranteed. That’s why the attorney you choose should have the financial resources and support to handle the case all the way through trial, if needed. They should also have connections with high-quality experts. When meeting with an attorney, you can get a sense of their resources by asking about their average expenditures on similar cases. You can also ask about the most they’ve ever spent to bring a case to verdict.
  • Attentiveness. Having an attorney who doesn’t pay attention to your case can make an already-stressful situation even more stressful. An inattentive attorney may also miss crucial details that could affect the outcome of your case. To avoid these kinds of problems, you’ll want to get a sense of how an attorney will respond to you before you hire them. Ask them during the initial consultation how you can communicate with them, as well as how long they’ll typically take to return your messages. 
  • Fees. Hiring an attorney for a personal injury case is almost always a worthwhile investment. But you also don’t want to be surprised by unexpected fees. For this reason, don’t be afraid to ask about a lawyer’s fee structure before hiring them. Keep in mind that it’s standard for personal injury attorneys to take cases on contingency. That means you shouldn’t have to pay anything up front. The attorney will only get paid if they win money for you in a settlement or at trial. Their fee will be a percentage of your award. 

When choosing a lawyer, you should also be wary of any attorney who claims they can get you money fast. While getting compensation quickly sounds great, especially if you’re facing medical bills or you’re unable to work, this may not be in your best interest. 

A lawyer who says they can resolve a case quickly isn’t necessarily a good lawyer. And a case taking several years, like many personal injury cases do, doesn’t mean that the attorney is bad. In fact, the best way to ensure maximum compensation is to thoroughly prepare and negotiate a case. 

Unfortunately, there are many law firms who are more interested in quick payouts than getting maximum compensation. Instead of aggressively advocating on behalf of their clients, they quickly resolve cases for smaller amounts. The smaller amounts are acceptable to these law firms because they can make up the fees by taking on a larger volume of cases. But that only benefits them, and not you, as the client. If you come across a law firm that settles a lot of cases quickly, you should consider it a red flag.

At Rosenblum Law, we understand the impact dog bites and other dog-related injuries can have on your life — physically, mentally, and financially. If you’ve been a victim of a dog attack, we’ll thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances. If we’re able to take on your case, we’ll guide you through the entire process and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation. We also have relationships with experts who we can bring on to support your case if needed.

In addition, if we’re not the right law firm for you, we provide guidance in selecting a law firm for your case. We have a large network with dozens of law firms that we have pre-screened to ensure that you’ll get the best law firm for your specific case.

For a free consultation, call us today at 888-235-9021 or contact us through our website at www.rosenblumlaw.com/contact. We’re passionate about helping all our clients get the compensation they’re owed — and we won’t take a fee unless we win a settlement or verdict for you.

As noted in the introduction, dog bite and dog-related injury victims in New York may be able to recover compensation through a few different types of claims:

  • a strict liability claim against the dog’s owner under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute for medical costs only 
  • a common law strict liability claim against the owner for all types of damages
  • a common law strict liability against a landlord for all types of damages
  • a negligence claim against a party other than the owner for all types of damages 

Each of these claims is discussed in further detail below. However, figuring out the path towards maximum compensation isn’t easy, and building a strong legal case is a complicated process. For the best chances of getting the compensation you deserve, you should work with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Identifying responsible parties

One of the first steps in any case is identifying the proper defendant. In most cases, this will be the dog’s owner. However, sometimes it may also be possible to pursue a claim against a party other than the owner. This may be the case if, for example, the dog was in the care of a third party when it bit you, such as a kennel, veterinary clinic, or a paid dog walker. If you were bitten while on someone’s property, you may also be able to pursue a claim against the landlord. 

Identifying all legally responsible parties in your case will often require some investigation as well as a thorough understanding of all relevant laws. Your attorney will help investigate the incident, identify all potential responsible parties in your case, and devise a strategy for recovering maximum compensation. 

Strict liability claims under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute

Under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute, owners of “dangerous dogs” are strictly liable for medical costs if their dog bites or otherwise injures someone. This is true even if the dog has never actually bitten anyone or the owner took precautions to prevent the dog from harming others.

To win a strict liability case under the “dangerous dog” statute, you generally need to prove four things:

  • the dog was previously declared a “dangerous dog,”
  • the defendant was the owner of the dog that injured you (under the statute, the “owner” is the person who harbors or keeps the dog),
  • the dog bit or otherwise injured you, and
  • the extent of your medical costs.

The “dangerous dog” statute doesn’t provide for recovery of damages other than medical costs. To recover other types of damages, you’ll need to pursue a claim based on common law strict liability as described below.

Common law strict liability claims

To recover compensation for damages other than medical bills, the victim must pursue a common law strict liability claim. This type of claim will allow you to seek compensation for all economic damages, such as lost wages and other injury-related expenses. You can also pursue non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering, disfigurement, and other negative impacts on your quality of life. New York permits punitive damages as well. However, as noted earlier, punitive damages are rare, as they’re intended to punish defendants for especially egregious conduct. Your attorney will help you determine the amount of compensation to seek, then negotiate with the defendant and their insurer to reach a fair settlement.

To win a common law strict liability claim, you must prove:

  • the dog had vicious propensities,
  • the owner knew or should have known of such propensities, 
  • the dog injured you, and
  • you experienced losses as a result of such injuries. 

These requirements were applied by the New York Court of Appeals in Collier v. Zambito. In that case, the minor plaintiff was in the defendants’ home as a guest of their son. When the minor plaintiff came downstairs to use the bathroom, the defendants’ dog began to bark. One of the defendants then put the dog on a leash and invited the boy to approach the dog so the dog could smell him, as the dog knew the boy from previous visits. However, as the boy approached the dog, the dog lunged and bit the boy’s face. 

The boy’s mother filed a lawsuit, which the trial court allowed to proceed. However, on appeal, the Supreme Court dismissed the case for failure to state a cause of action. This dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. In reaching their decision, the Court of Appeals noted that all of the parties testified before trial that, to their knowledge, the dog had never previously threatened or bit anyone. There was also no other evidence that the dog had vicious propensities that the defendants knew or should have known about.

As noted above under the section titled “Identifying responsible parties,” if you were bitten while on someone’s property, you may also be able to pursue a claim against the landlord. This type of claim is rooted in a landlord’s general duty to protect those on their property from unreasonable risk of harm. To hold the landlord liable for a dog-related injury, you generally must prove:

  • the landlord had notice that the dog was on the premises, 
  • the landlord knew or should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, and
  • the landlord had sufficient control of the premises to be able to confine or remove the dog.

Note that in common law strict liability cases, “vicious propensities” includes any tendency to do any act that might endanger the safety or property of others. Evidence of a dog’s vicious propensities (and the owner’s knowledge of such) may include:

  • prior attacks 
  • prior aggressive behavior, such as lunging, snarling, growling, and snapping
  • previous attempts at biting, even if no bites actually occurred
  • specific training as an attack dog
  • statements by the owner that the dog is an “attack dog” or a biter
  • statements from neighbors, vets, dog trainers, and others who may have information about the dog’s behavioral history and the owner

Evidence that a dog barked or that the owners kept the dog chained is likely not sufficient to prove that a dog was vicious. In Gill v. Welch, for example, the plaintiff was bitten by a dog harbored by the defendant’s tenant. The defendant submitted sworn testimony that she had no knowledge of the vicious propensities of her tenant’s dog, and the plaintiff submitted no proof to the contrary. As a result, the complaint was dismissed, which was upheld on appeal. In affirming the dismissal, the Appellate Court acknowledged the evidence that the dog was kept enclosed in a yard and chained, and that it strained on its chain and barked when people approached. However, the court held that this alone was insufficient to show that the dog had vicious propensities. 

A “Beware of Dog” sign is also not necessarily proof of the owner’s knowledge of a dog’s vicious propensities. For example, in Arcara v. Whytas, the plaintiff, a gas company employee, was bitten by the defendant’s dog when he entered the defendant’s property to read a meter. A “Beware of Dog” sign was posted on the garage to deter intruders, but there was otherwise no proof that prior to the incident the dog was at all aggressive. As a result, the appellate court dismissed the complaint, noting that the plaintiff failed to show any evidence of the dog’s vicious propensities.  

Sometimes, there may be conflicting evidence about whether a dog has vicious propensities. If that’s the case, the issue will likely go to a jury to decide. 

Negligence claims

As noted in the introduction, New York courts generally don’t allow negligence claims against owners for dog bites or dog-related injuries. In rejecting such claims, courts often cite Bard v. Jahnke

In that case, the plaintiff was working on the defendant’s farm when he was charged by a bull owned by the defendant. The defendant allowed the bull to roam freely around the dairy barn to impregnate cows stabled there. Prior to the incident, the bull had never threatened or injured any other farm animal or person. In addition, the defendant was a longtime dairy farmer, and none of the bulls on any farms he worked on or owned had ever acted aggressively toward, or injured, another farm animal or person. 

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit based on the incident, but the complaint was dismissed. In affirming the dismissal, the Court of Appeals held that when harm is caused by a domestic animal, the victim can’t recover damages from the owner through a common law negligence action. Instead, the plaintiff must pursue a common law strict liability claim and satisfy the requirements outlined in Collier. (See the section above titled “Common law strict liability claims.”)

Although Bard didn’t involve a dog, its rule barring negligence actions against the owner of a domestic animal has been applied in later cases involving dogs. In Doerr v. Goldsmith, for example, defendants Smith and Goldsmith were in Central Park with Goldsmith’s dog. Meanwhile, plaintiff Doerr was riding his bicycle in the park. Smith stood on one side of the bicycle path, and Goldsmith stood on the opposite side with the dog. Just as Doerr was approaching on his bicycle, Smith bent down and clapped her hands on her knees, allegedly calling the dog over to her. As the dog crossed the street, Doerr hit the dog and was thrown from his bicycle, resulting in significant injuries. 

Doerr filed a personal injury claim against the defendants, claiming that they negligently “controlled and directed their dog into the path of the plaintiff.” However, he did not pursue a strict liability claim or allege that the dog had vicious propensities. Citing Bard, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff could not pursue a negligence action and dismissed the complaint.

While a negligence claim likely won’t be permitted against a dog’s owner, it may be possible against parties other than the owner. A negligence claim may be appropriate if someone other than the dog’s owner behaved irresponsibly, resulting in the dog biting or otherwise injuring you. To win a negligence claim, you have to prove the following four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

To satisfy the duty element, you have to prove that the defendant owed a duty to you. Everyone has a general duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances so as to not injure others. 

To satisfy the breach element, you have to prove that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to take reasonable care under the circumstances (in other words, that they acted “negligently”). If the defendant acted negligently, they are legally responsible for any injury or harm that resulted.

To satisfy the causation element, you have to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. In other words, you have to show that if it weren’t for the defendants’ actions (or failure to act), you wouldn’t have been injured. 

While causation may seem straightforward, some defendants may argue that even if they breached their duty to act with reasonable care, your injuries were caused by something else. This is why it’s important to seek medical attention right away and get documentation of your injuries and treatment. You should also be careful not to sign any medical releases for the insurer or anyone else without consulting a lawyer. Medical releases allow third parties to get your medical records directly from your healthcare provider. If a medical release provides for unlimited access, the third party will be able to get your entire medical history. This will allow them to dig for information about previous conditions or injuries and use it against you.

Finally, to satisfy the damages element, you have to show proof of your losses you suffered as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. As with a common law strict liability claim, the compensation you seek may include economic damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses), or non-economic damages (such as for pain and suffering, disfigurement, and other negative impacts on your quality of life). In cases involving especially egregious conduct by the defendant, you may also be able to receive punitive damages. 

If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will decide whether or not you’ve sufficiently proved that the defendants were responsible for your injuries, and, if so, the amount of damages. If certain legal requirements are not met during the process, the judge may dismiss the case.

Pursuing Compensation

The first step in a dog bite or dog-related injury case is often pursuing a claim through the defendant’s insurance. After formally engaging a lawyer, your lawyer will ensure a claim is filed with the defendant’s insurance company. Your attorney will then negotiate for a fair settlement. If that’s not possible, the next step is filing a personal injury lawsuit.

If a defendant doesn’t have insurance, you may be able to sue them directly. However, this may only make sense if the owner has sufficient assets that you could recover if you win. An attorney can explain your options and help you devise the best course of action for getting maximum compensation. Below is more information about what to expect when pursuing compensation in a dog bite or dog-related injury case.

Dealing with insurance companies

In many dog bite or dog-related injury cases, the defendant’s homeowners’ insurance company will be responsible for handling your claim. According to the Insurance Information Institute (“III”), homeowners’ insurance companies pay out hundreds of millions of dollars each year for dog bite and other dog-related injury claims. However, depending on where the incident happened, other insurance policies may cover your injuries instead. Other potential coverage could include a renter’s insurance policy, a general liability policy, or even a business liability policy if the incident happened at a business. 

The amount of available coverage will depend on the specific policy. Some insurance policies don’t cover injuries caused by certain breeds, such as pit bulls, German shepherds, and doberman pinschers. If your losses exceed the policy limits, the insured party will be responsible for the remaining losses.

If any insurance company contacts you about your injuries, you should keep in mind that their goal is to protect their own financial interests. This means that you cannot rely on them to explain your rights, give you advice, or offer you fair compensation. Instead, they’ll be searching for information they can use to reduce or even deny your claim. This is true no matter how friendly or sympathetic the insurance adjuster may seem. 

Many insurance adjusters deal with claims on a daily basis, so they’re often skilled at getting information they can use against you. Even for someone who’s familiar with the insurance process, it’s easy to fall into a trap or accidently say something that could damage your claim. Insurers also often use high-pressure tactics to try to get you to settle for far less than your claim is actually worth. 

To help make sure you don’t make mistakes that harm your ability to get compensation, you should have your attorney handle all communications on your behalf. Your attorney will know what to look for and have the skills and experience to properly negotiate a claim. You shouldn’t give a statement, sign any releases or other forms, or accept any offers until you’ve consulted your attorney. If the insurer refuses to provide an appropriate settlement, your lawyer can also file a lawsuit on your behalf. 

Statute of limitations 

The statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. New York’s statute of limitations generally gives dog attack victims three years from the date of incident to file a case. While three years may seem like plenty of time, it’s important to act quickly for a few reasons.

First, some types of cases have much shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re suing a government entity, you usually only have 90 days from the incident to file a notice of claim. Insurance policies may also have different deadlines.

Second, the strongest evidence in a personal injury case often disappears quickly after the incident. To get video and/or photo evidence of your injuries, the scene of the incident, and other relevant items such as torn or bloodied clothing, it’s critical to act fast. In addition, the sooner you act, the more likely you’ll be able to find and speak to witnesses that were present at the scene or who are familiar with the dog’s behavior.

Third, identifying all legally responsible parties and negotiating with the defendant and their insurer can take much longer than you may think. If the owner wasn’t present during the attack, it may take some investigation to identify the owner or any other responsible parties. And once you identify the right defendant, their insurer may even intentionally draw out the process. The more time you have to prepare for a lawsuit, the better. By getting started promptly after the incident, you and your lawyer will have as much time as possible to build your case, negotiate a settlement, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit.

If you miss the deadline under the statute of limitations, you’ll no longer be able to seek compensation from the defendant unless a rare exception applies to your case. To make sure you meet all deadlines and build the strongest possible case, you should contact an attorney immediately. However, even if you think you’ve already missed a deadline, it’s worth speaking to a lawyer to confirm whether an exception applies to your case. 

The type of damages you can receive in a dog bite or dog-related injury case depends on what kind of claim you’re pursuing. For a strict liability claim under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute, you’ll be limited to recovering medical costs. To arrive at the right amount of medical costs, you’ll usually have to first reach “maximum medical improvement.” In other words, you’ll have to recover completely, or as fully as you’re likely to. This will allow you to take into account all past and expected future medical treatment. 

If you’re pursuing a common law strict liability or negligence claim for damages beyond medical costs, the amount you can recover also depends on the kind of impact your injuries have had on your life — both now and in the future. This will also require reaching “maximum medical improvement” so that you can properly account for any other ongoing consequences of your injuries. 

An experienced personal injury attorney, with the help of medical experts, will be able to calculate the appropriate amount to seek in your case. If your case goes to trial, the judge or jury will ultimately decide how much to award based on the evidence. Damages can fall into three categories:

Economic damages include compensation for monetary losses relating to your claim. Such losses may include past and future medical expenses, lost wages because you’re unable to work (or limited in the type of work you can do), and other out-of-pocket expenses (for example, transportation to medical appointments, hiring household help, etc). 

Non-economic damages include compensation for things like emotional trauma, pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, and impairment. Spouses, children, and parents of injured patients may also be able to recover damages for loss of companionship and other benefits of a family relationship that were lost due to the victim’s injuries. 

These types of damages are more subjective and more difficult to calculate. But generally, when deciding how much to award in non-economic damages, the judge or jury will consider the nature of the injury, its severity, and the impact on one’s life. 

Punitive damages are not intended to compensate a victim, but rather to punish the defendant for their conduct. While New York allows punitive damages, they’re only awarded in extreme cases involving egregiously negligent, reckless, or willful conduct. 

Pursuing a claim against a friend or relative

In the majority of dog attacks, the victim is familiar with the dog. It’s common for dog attacks to involve the dog of a friend, relative, or neighbor. If this happened to you, you may be understandably concerned about how a lawsuit would affect your relationship with the defendant. But injuries often come with medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Getting compensation for those losses is usually an important part of being able to move on with your life. 

The good news is, in this scenario you likely wouldn’t have to be paid by your friend or family member directly. Instead, their homeowners insurance company, renters’ insurance, or other liability insurance would usually be on the hook for defending the claim and paying out your damages. 

If your relative or friend doesn’t have insurance that covers your injuries, recovering compensation does become a little more complicated. But either way, before you decide not to pursue a claim, it’s worth getting a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can advise you on all the factors to consider and help you identify the best path forward. If you do decide to pursue a lawsuit, your lawyer can also serve as a buffer between you and the person you’re suing and handle all communications and negotiations on your behalf. 

Gathering as much evidence as possible is important for any kind of lawsuit. In a dog bite or dog-related injury case, common evidence may include:

  • photos and/or video of your injuries, the scene of the incident, the dog that attacked you, and other relevant items, such as torn or bloodied clothing
  • witness testimony (from those present during the attack or who have knowledge of the dog’s behavioral history, such as neighbors, trainers, vets, and dog sitters)
  • any previous complaints about the dog or other documented incidents of aggression
  • proof the dog has been trained for dog fighting or as a guard dog
  • medical records documenting the extent of your injuries
  • proof of economic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, other expenses
  • proof of non-economic damages, such as working with a therapist for anxiety or trauma or sworn statements from those with knowledge of your mental state

Evidence relating to prior attacks may also be helpful, as such evidence is relevant to the dog’s vicious propensities and the owner’s knowledge of those propensities. In Lynch v. Nacewicz, for example, a minor plaintiff was bitten by the defendant’s dog when visiting the defendant’s daughters. The trial court initially excluded evidence of a prior victim’s attack and resulting medical treatment. On appeal, however, the appellate court held that this was one of a few errors committed by the trial court, and as a result, ordered a new trial. 

Experts are another important part of personal injury cases. If issues in your case involve special skill, training, or experience, you may need an expert to express an opinion. For example, medical expert testimony can help link your injuries to the dog attack and explain the impact of your injuries on your life. 

When choosing a lawyer, you should look for someone who has access to highly qualified experts. The defendants may have their own experts testifying on their behalf, and having the right experts on your side can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. The more qualified the expert, the more likely the judge or jury will believe them at trial.  

It’s also important to engage a lawyer right away. Valuable evidence can disappear quickly after an incident, and as more time passes, witnesses may forget key details. Your attorney will be able to help you collect the right evidence and build the strongest case possible.

Common defenses

When pursuing a dog bite or dog-related injury case, the defendant and their insurer will likely assert defenses that could help them reduce or avoid liability.  An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you anticipate and effectively counter any defenses.

Some defenses are procedural in nature. For example, the defendant may argue that the statute of limitations has lapsed, or in the case of a government entity, that you missed the deadline for filing a notice of claim. (See “Statute of Limitations” above.) Or the defendant may claim that they shouldn’t have been named as the defendant at all. (See Elements of a Dog-Related Injury Claim — Identifying responsible parties.) If you sue the wrong party, you can refile a complaint against the right defendant so long as you still have time under the statute of limitations. In the case of government entities, this may present problems since the notice of claim period is relatively short. If you miss a deadline because you sued the wrong party, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all.

There are also other defenses that depend on the facts surrounding the incident. For example, under New York’s “dangerous dog” statute, a dog won’t be declared dangerous and an owner won’t be liable for medical costs or subject to other penalties if the dog’s behavior was justified because:

  • the person who was threatened or injured or sustained damages by the dog was committing a crime or offense upon the owner or the property of the owner;
  • the person who was threatened, injured, or killed was tormenting, abusing, assaulting or physically threatening the dog or its offspring, or had done so in the past;
  • the dog was responding to pain or injury;
  • the dog was protecting itself, its owner, a member of its household, its kennels, or its offspring;
  • the injured, threatened, or killed companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal was attacking or threatening to attack the dog or its offspring; or
  • the dog was coming to the aid of a person during the commission or attempted commission of a murder, robbery, burglary, arson, first degree rape, first degree criminal sexual act, or kidnapping in the home or on the property of the owner, and the dog injured or killed the person committing such criminal activity.

Similar defenses may also be raised in a common law strict liability or negligence lawsuit. In some cases, these defenses can completely bar recovery. But if a court finds that you were only partially at fault, New York applies its “comparative fault” rule. Under this rule, a victim’s compensation will be lowered in proportion to their percentage of fault.

As an example, if you had $100,000 in damages, and you’re found 60% at fault, you would only recover $40,000, or 40% of the total damages. If you go through trial, the judge or jury will decide how to allocate fault. But even during settlement negotiations, insurance companies will use the comparative fault rule when evaluating your case.

Assigning fault in a case isn’t an exact science. So although you should be aware of the comparative fault rule, you should not make any assumptions about how fault will be assigned in your case. Instead, consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to analyze all available evidence with the help of experts and make sure fault is properly assigned.

The litigation process

If you and your attorney decide to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, below is an overview of what you can expect. While this may seem intimidating, your attorney will manage the entire process on your behalf and guide you every step of the way. 

  • Filing and serving a Complaint. The Complaint is a document that lays out the facts supporting each element of your claim, including what happened before, during, and after the attack, the nature of your injuries, and the compensation that you’re seeking. Your attorney will prepare and file the Complaint on your behalf, which will officially begin your lawsuit. A copy of the Complaint must also be delivered (or “served”) to the defendant, along with an official notice of the lawsuit called a “Summons.” 
  • Defendant’s Answer. Once the defendant receives the Complaint, they’ll have to file an official response called an “Answer.” In their Answer, they’ll admit or deny the allegations in the Complaint. The Answer will also include any defenses and counterclaims. 
  • Discovery. After the Complaint and Answer are both filed, the discovery process will begin. During discovery, both sides will gather documents, information, and other evidence to build their cases and arguments. They’ll also engage expert witnesses and schedule “depositions” with various parties. Depositions are sworn, out-of-court testimonies in the form of question-and-answer sessions with the attorneys. If requested by the defendant, you may have to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (“IME”) as well. The IME is conducted by a doctor chosen and paid for by the defendant. The purpose is not to provide treatment or care, but to gather information about your injuries and condition that can be used in the lawsuit. 
  • Motions. Throughout the process, attorneys may make various requests to the court called “motions.” Examples include motions to dismiss (throw out the case because of a legal deficiency), compel discovery (order the other side to respond to a discovery request), or change venue (move the case to a court in another location).
  • Trial. If the parties don’t reach a settlement agreement, after discovery the case will proceed to trial. However, a settlement can still be reached any time before the judge or jury makes a decision. During the trial, both attorneys will give opening statements, present all evidence, call witnesses (including experts), and conclude their cases with closing arguments. The judge or jury will then decide who wins the case and the amount of damages, if any (called the “verdict”).
  • Appeal. Once the trial is over, the losing side may decide to “appeal” to a higher court. An appeal is basically asking the higher court to review the actions of the trial court and make sure the law was properly applied. By winning an appeal, it may be possible to reverse the decision of the trial court.

The amount of time it takes to go through the litigation process varies from case to case. It will depend on how complicated your case is, how busy the court is, and how willing the parties are to cooperate and negotiate. Many dog bite and dog-related injury cases settle, but if a case goes through a full trial, it can take several years to resolve. 

Settlements and mediation

Throughout the entire legal process, your attorney will negotiate with the other side to try to resolve the case out of court. Resolving a case out of court is called a “settlement.” Both sides to a lawsuit usually prefer to settle, because it helps avoid the lengthy, expensive, and uncertain trial process. But defendants and their insurers also want to pay out as little as possible, and sometimes they may not offer a fair settlement. This is especially true early in the process, so it’s best not to rush settlement negotiations. In general, the faster you settle, the lower the settlement amount — sometimes for much less than your case is worth. 

You should also never accept a settlement offer until you’ve consulted with an attorney. Once you accept a settlement, you give up your rights to pursue the claim any further. Your attorney will review all evidence and engage the right experts to confirm a fair value for your case. They’ll also conduct settlement negotiations on your behalf. If your attorney can’t reach a fair settlement, they should be prepared and willing to go to trial. 

Note that a settlement may be reached through direct negotiations, or the parties may agree to mediation. Mediation is a proceeding where a neutral third-party, called the mediator, helps the plaintiff and defendant reach a settlement. Mediators are often retired judges, attorneys, or other court personnel. 

There are no set rules for mediation. Instead, it’s usually guided by the mediator’s own style and method. The mediator will listen to both sides and make sure everyone gets a chance to tell their story and ask questions. The idea is that this process will help both sides come to an understanding and fair compromise. Of course, sometimes that isn’t possible. If you can’t reach a compromise through mediation, you can still proceed with your case in court. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you likely have a lot of questions about your case. Below are answers to some common questions we receive about dog bite or dog-related injury claims in New York. But keep in mind that every case is different. If you’d like to discuss the specifics of your case, you should contact a New York personal injury attorney. 


How do I know if I have a viable personal injury claim?

Pursuing compensation for a dog bite or dog-related injury in New York is rarely straightforward. To accurately assess your situation, you should consult an attorney. First, the attorney will have to determine whether the deadline under the statute of limitations has passed. If not, they’ll then review any available evidence to figure out whether the facts seem to support a claim. 

If it appears you have a viable claim and you and the attorney decide to move forward, your attorney will conduct further investigations and begin negotiations. During this process, additional evidence may come out that affects the strength of your claim. If this happens, your attorney will be able to advise you on the best course of action. See Elements of a Dog-Related Injury Claim for more information about the requirements for a successful claim.

How much is my case worth?

The value of your case depends on many factors. There is no “standard” amount of compensation for a dog bite or any other dog-related injury. Instead, your attorney will work with medical experts to determine how much to seek based on all the circumstances, including your particular injuries. Possible damages may include:

-economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses; 

-non-economic damages, such as compensation for emotional trauma, pain and suffering, disfigurement, or disability; and

-punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious. 

See Pursuing Compensation — Valuing a dog bite or dog-related injury case for more information.

How much will it cost me to bring a lawsuit?

It’s standard for personal injury attorneys to offer an initial consultation free of charge and take cases on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t have to pay them up front. Instead, their attorneys’ fees will only come out of any money they win for you in a verdict or settlement.

Personal injury attorneys usually advance litigation expenses as well, such as fees for depositions, copying records, and engaging experts. These expenses will also be reimbursed from any verdict or settlement. 

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, when consulting with a lawyer you should ask about their fee structure. You should also carefully read your engagement letter, which will outline how all fees and expenses will be handled.

How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

In New York, the statute of limitations generally only gives you three years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. This deadline may only be extended in very limited circumstances. Note that this is the deadline for starting a lawsuit. It maybe resolved much later.

Some types of lawsuits also have much shorter deadlines. For example, if you’re suing a government entity, you’ll generally have to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident. Insurance claims may have different deadlines as well.

If you miss a deadline, you may no longer be able to pursue a claim to recover compensation from the defendant. But even if you think you already missed a deadline, it’s worth consulting with an attorney. The attorney will confirm whether any exceptions apply to your case.

Will I have to go to court?

It’s possible. Both sides in a lawsuit usually prefer to settle out of court, as going to trial can cost a lot of time and money and involves a lot more uncertainty. And many dog-related injury cases do settle at some point during the process. However, if the dog’s owner or their insurance company refuses to pay a fair settlement, it may be necessary to go to trial.

If that happens, you’ll have to appear in court. Throughout the litigation process, you may also have to attend other proceedings, such as negotiations, depositions, and medical examinations. If you do have to go to court and make other appearances, your attorney will guide you through the entire process. 

How long will a lawsuit take?

It’s difficult to predict how long it will take to resolve any lawsuit. If a case is particularly strong, it may settle in a matter of months. Other cases can take years, especially if they go all the way through trial.  

The first step is consulting with an attorney. Your attorney will review all available evidence and decide whether they can take on your case. If you both decide to proceed, your attorney will then investigate further and start to prepare your case. They’ll also begin negotiations with the defendant and their insurer. 

If the defendant and their insurer won’t agree to a fair settlement, your attorney may proceed with a lawsuit. The attorneys will continue to negotiate, and there will be a period of discovery and motions. If the parties still don’t reach a settlement during this time, the case will ultimately go to trial. 

The lawsuit process can take a lot of time. How long your case takes will depend on the complexity of the case, the strength of the evidence, and how busy the court is. The cooperation of the defendant, their insurer, and other parties involved in the case will also affect the timeline. 

Will my case or settlement become publicized in the media?

Not every case will be picked up by the media, but it is possible. Lawsuit records will generally become part of the public record. That includes your court filings and the rulings in the case.

If you settle out of court, you may be able to keep many sensitive details and the settlement amount out of the public record. Your attorneys can also draft the settlement agreement in a way that obligates the parties to keep the details confidential. 

What should I do if a loved one died as the result of a dog attack?

If your loved one died as the result of a dog attack, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away to evaluate your case. You may be able to bring a wrongful death action and pursue damages for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and other losses. While money can’t truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, it can provide a sense of justice and help provide financial stability for those left behind. 

The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better. As more time passes, the more difficult it becomes to gather the right evidence. Preparing a case will also require a thorough investigation, and like other types of cases, there are strict legal deadlines for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

What if I have other questions about a dog-related injury claim?

If you have other questions about a dog bite or dog-related injury case, you should contact a lawyer right away. As noted above, there are time limits for filing a claim, and the strongest evidence may disappear over time. If you wait too long, it may be too late to pursue compensation. 

At Rosenblum Law, we understand how painful and frightening a dog attack can be and the impact dog-related injuries can have on your life. If you’ve been a victim of a dog attack, we’ll thoroughly evaluate your situation and determine the best course of action for your particular circumstances. If we’re able to take on your case, we’ll guide you through the insurance and legal processes, engage the right experts, and fight on your behalf for maximum compensation.

For a free consultation, call us today at 888-235-9021 or contact us through our website at www.rosenblumlaw.com/contact. We’re passionate about helping all our clients get the compensation they’re owed — and we won’t take a fee unless we win a settlement or verdict for you.


Call Us
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap