More often than not, dogs are a source of great joy. However, there are instances when these four-legged creatures bite people and other animals, causing injury, damage, or more. If a dog has bitten you, a pet, or someone you know, or if you’re the owner of a dog that’s bitten someone, knowing where you stand legally by seeking advice from a dog bite lawyer might be in your best interest.
Dog Bites in Numbers
Data collated by DogsBite.org sheds light on dog bites, resulting injuries, and liability claims in the United States.
- There are around 4.2 million reported dog bites every year, and almost 20% lead to infection.
- Around 1,000 people need emergency care to treat serious dog bites every day.
- Around 15,000 people require hospitalization because of dog bites each year.
- In 2021, homeowners’ insurance providers paid more than $880 million in liability claims arising from dog bites and other related injuries.
- From 2003 to 2019, the national average cost per claim increased by 134%.
Further, an extract from a book found at the National Library of Medicine highlights that around 30 to 50 people lose their lives each year because of dog bites. Complications arising from dog bites may include rabies, nerve injuries, ruptured tendons, cellulitis, meningitis, and tenosynovitis.
What You Need to Do After a Dog Bite
Dog bite attorneys often emphasize following a few simple steps after an incident surrounding a dog bite, be it as a victim or a dog owner.
As a Victim
- Assess the severity of the injury.
- Wash it with water and soap; if the bleeding does not stop, apply pressure using a clean cloth.
- Seek immediate medical assistance if required.
- Get the owner’s name, phone number, and address.
- If you can’t locate the owner, ask around to see if you may get any information about the dog or its owner.
- Get contact details of witnesses, if any.
- Determine if the dog’s vaccination is up-to-date by asking to see its records.
- Take pictures of the wound and the location of the incident.
- Seek medical assistance.
- Report the incident to the Department of Health within 24 hours.
- Call 911 if you think the dog might bite/attack you or someone else in the near future.
- Don’t talk about liability or compensation with the dog owner.
- Contact a dog bite injury lawyer.
As a Dog Owner
- Remain calm and restrict the dog’s movement by moving it elsewhere or putting it on a leash.
- Provide assistance to the victim by helping clean the wound and contacting a medical professional.
- Offer to inform the victim’s family/friend about the incident.
- Provide your name and contact information, and seek the same from the victim.
- Keep your dog’s medical records close at hand.
- Document the scene to the best of your recollection and take photographs, if needed.
- If there are witnesses, get their contact details.
- Inform the local authority.
- Get in touch with a dog bite attorney.
What Do New York Dog Bite Laws Say?
Chapter 69 (Agriculture & Markets) of the Consolidated Laws of New York governs cases related to dog bites. Dog bite laws in this state rely on a one-bite rule that comes with a limited degree of strict liability. What this essentially means is that an owner of a dangerous dog is liable to pay only for a victim’s medical expenses. Filing a claim to cover other damages requires proving that the owner knew of the dog’s tendency to bite people before the incident.
If the dog bite lawyer you hire can prove negligence on part of the owner, you may file a claim to cover additional damages such as loss of income, pain/suffering, and a diminished quality of life.
What Dog Owners Need to Know
The law might hold owners of dangerous dogs strictly liable for any harm their dogs cause, and they might also have to pay a fine. Owners of dogs previously declared dangerous that cause serious injuries might face misdemeanor charges, which may result in 90-day jail time and a $1,000 fine. If a previously declared dangerous dog ends up killing someone, its owner might face Class A misdemeanor charges.
Obeying the rules when outdoors is crucial to prevent instances of dog bites. For example, if you take your dog to any of NYC’s parks, the law stipulates that you should have your dog on a leash at any given time, other than in designated off-leash areas and dog runs. In addition, the leash should measure no more than six feet in length.
Common Defenses in Dog Bite Cases
No matter whether you’re a dog bite victim or a dog owner, taking a look at some of the common defenses presented by dog bite attorneys might work well for you. These include:
- Defending against trespassers. Under the one-bite rule, if a dog bites an individual who is trespassing on its owner’s property, there’s a good chance that a court will not hold its owner liable. Owners of dangerous dogs should ideally provide some warning.
- Protecting its puppies or owners. A bite that results owing to a dog protecting its puppies or owner from any perceived threat is typically viewed as an acceptable defense.
- Reacting to suffering/pain. Dog bite laws are lenient toward dogs that bite as a reaction to pain or suffering.
- Reacting to provocation. If a dog bite is the result of a dog reacting to abuse, assault, or any other type of torment, it’s hard to hold its owner liable. Petting an unknown dog and stepping on a dog’s tail by mistake also fall under this bracket.
Having to deal with a dog bite can be a daunting task for victims and dog owners alike, although dog bite lawyers may help address some of the crucial challenges you face. At the onset, it’s important that the victim gets the required medical attention as soon as possible. Then, both parties may benefit by seeking advice from personal injury attorneys who specialize in this realm.