Syracuse Dog Bite Attorneys

While dogs may be man’s best friend, dog bites are still common, even in Central New York. Regardless of breed, size, or training, any dog is capable of inflicting harm upon a person. According to the Center for Disease Control and the Humane Society, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite incidents in the United States per year. 80,000 of those injuries require medical attention. If you are a victim of a dog bite injury, the DeMore Law Firm may be able to help you get legal and financial relief.

The DeMore Law Firm is an experienced personal injury firm located in Syracuse, NY. Having over 30 years of experience representing the victims of New York State in various personal injury cases.  We secured a six figure settlement for a 59 year old woman who was attacked by her neighbor’s dog in Central New York. Through our investigation, we discovered that the dog showed vicious propensities on previous occasions when she attacked another neighbor and his dog. Our client suffered significant wounds to her left calf requiring a skin graft and extensive wound treatment. We also secured a settlement for a 75 year old Southern Tier woman who was attacked by a dog while visiting a friend in Florida. She suffered significant lacerations to her leg which required several months of painful wound care.

How Dog Bite Laws Work in NY

There are several frameworks that are used by different states in dog bite cases. New York uses a mixture of the “one bite” rule and the “strict liability rule”.

The “one-bite” Rule:

Some states use this rule which would hold liable an owner of an animal that: (1) had a propensity to do something harmful or act in a dangerous way; (2) knew that the animal had this propensity to do something harmful; and (3) the animal’s propensity to do something harmful caused the animal to inflict damage upon a person or their property. This rule relies heavily on the fact that the owner knew, or reasonably should have known, about the dog’s dangerous propensities. The first incident of the dog’s dangerous or harmful behavior would be excused because the owner would likely have no reason to know. However, any subsequent incidents would make the owner liable.

Strict Liability Rule:

Some states take the approach of strict liability in regards to dog bites. This means that the owner of a dog will be held liable for all of the injurious acts of their dog, regardless of whether or not they had any reason to know that their dog was dangerous.

New York State’s Approach:

The state of New York takes a hybrid approach of the one bite rule and strict liability. Here, there is strict liability for owners of dangerous animals specifically for medical costs. When a dangerous dog bites someone, they are strictly liable for all medical costs. All other sorts of damages are recoverable by proving that the owner was negligent. This could be shown by failure to put the dog on a leash or properly enclose their property.

Defining Dangerous Dogs:

The New York Agriculture and Markets Code Section 121, which deals with liability for dog bite incidents, defines a “dangerous” dog as one that

  • attacks and either injures or kills a person, farm animal, or pet without justification
  • behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a “serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”

There has been an exception made to the definition of a dangerous dog:

  • Law enforcement dogs can never be deemed as a dangerous dog
  • When a dog is provoked by the person and it responded by biting or injuring that person
  • When the dog was trying to protect its home against a trespasser on the property or preventing a crime from occurring on the property

Damages:

You could recover several types of damages if you were the victim of a dog bite. The first being the most obvious, medical bills. Beyond medical bills, you can recover for lost income from having to treat your injuries and for being unable to do your job in the future as a result of the incident. Another type of damages is for pain and suffering, as many people develop a fear or phobia of dogs after a particularly vicious dog bite. This is highly applicable to children, which unfortunately are the victims of the majority of dog bites, that may suffer lifelong trauma. Property damages may also be recoverable if applicable.

Who Can Be Held Liable?

 Beyond the owner, there might be others that can be held liable for a dog bite. The statute says that anyone who “harbors” a dog can be liable. This concept has been teased out in the relevant case law. This may mean that a landlord who leases their property to a tenant who owns a vicious dog may be liable if they knew the tenant had a vicious dog on their property.

Statute of Limitations:

In New York, you have 3 years from the date of the incident to file your claim in court. If this date is missed, you can be barred from filing your complaint forever. This is why you cannot wait.  Contact our attorneys today to discuss your options.

How The DeMore Law Firm Can Help

Are you a victim of a dog bite injury near Syracuse, NY? If you have any questions regarding a potential dog bite claim, call the DeMore Law Firm today. The help of experienced and diligent personal injury attorneys can make all the difference in getting you your maximum compensation. Call us today for a free consultation where we can hear the details of your case and decide the best course of action for you.