Buffalo Dog Bite Attorney

Your New York Dog Bite Attorneys Can Explain Your Rights

For personal injury cases, including those arising from dog bites, the deadline (“statute of limitations”) for bringing your case to court is three years from the date of injury. If you do not file your case within the three-year time limit, you will be prevented from filing it at all. Therefore, it is very important to be mindful of when the injury occurred and how much time has elapsed.

What Types Of Liability Exist In A Dog Bite Case?

“Strict liability” (liability without fault) attaches in cases of domestic animals when the animal has vicious propensities of which the owner or harborer has knowledge or reason to know. Most such cases involve attacks by dogs. The owner or keeper of the animal is held to have known of its vicious propensities when “they existed for such a period of time that a reasonably prudent person would have discovered them.”[1] The fact that the owner may not have been negligent in the manner in which the animal was kept or controlled is irrelevant.[2] This common law concept is often referred to colloquially as the “one-bite” rule.

However, “one-bite” is a misnomer, since a dog does not need to actually bite someone in order to display vicious propensities. New York courts have held that displays of aggressive behavior, such as growling, snapping, or barring of teeth, can all evidence a propensity for viciousness. On the other hand, the mere presence of “Beware of Dog” signs on a property is insufficient proof of knowledge on the owner’s part. Similarly, the fact that a dog is chained and barks at passersby does not, standing alone, create an inference that the dog was vicious.

Exceptions to strict liability in dog bites exist.

There are two important exceptions to this liability. First, police dogs are generally exempt from this common-law standard. Second, the plaintiff’s own conduct can sometimes erase the animal’s culpability. If the defendant can prove that plaintiff was hurting or provoking the animal, the law considers this an assumption of risk (a/k/a the “in harm’s way” defense), and the plaintiff is wholly barred from recovering damages.[3]

What is the One-Bite Law and How Does it Apply in New York?

New York State follows a combination of the “one-bite law” and a strict liability standard for dog bites. Under New York law, dog owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by their dogs if the victim can prove that:

  1. The dog has shown vicious propensities in the past (also known as the “one-bite” rule), or
    2. The owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous behavior but failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the injury.

New York Agriculture and Markets Law Section 123 explicitly addresses dangerous dogs and what to do in the event of a bite. A Buffalo dog bite lawyer can help you understand the nuances when dealing with specific legal codes referring to your rights in a dog bite case.

What Kind of Injury Lawyer Do I Need for a Dog Bite?

In contrast to other types of law, you may not want an overly aggressive attorney when dealing with dog bite cases. While it’s crucial to have a strong advocate who will fight for your rights, an attorney who takes a more amicable and constructive approach can help foster better communication and potentially reach a mutually satisfactory outcome with the other party or their insurance company.

Additionally, it can be beneficial to seek someone who has experience in successfully settling cases. An attorney skilled in negotiation and settlement can work towards a fair resolution without the need for a lengthy court battle. This approach can save you time and potentially reduce stress.

[1] Papadopoulos v. Gardner’s Village, Inc., 198 A.D.2d 216 (1993).

[2] Russell v. Rivera, 780 N.Y.S.2d 699 (App. Term 2004).

[3] Arbegast v. Board of Educ., 65 N.Y.2d 161 (1985).

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Know Your Rights Under New York State Law After A Dog Attack

If you are bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to recover various damages, including medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Pain and suffering could include a newly developed fear of dogs or any potential scarring. These factors are especially relevant to child victims, because they will likely bear such wounds for a longer period of time.


Selected Dog Bite Case Verdicts/Settlements

Moliterno v. SSF (N.Y. Sup. 2015) – Plaintiff was attacked by Defendant supply-yard owner’s dog. The dog bit him in the left (non-dominant) hand and threw him to the ground, causing a complex laceration that required partial surgical amputation of Plaintiff’s left pinkie finger. The case settled prior to trial for $1,350,000.

Febbraio v. Borchelt (N.Y. Sup. 2000) – 45-year-old male Plaintiff suffered injuries after a dog being trained by Defendant bit him in the groin. The injuries required an operation, and a jury ultimately awarded Plaintiff $1,000,000 for pain and suffering.

Liberman v. City of New York (N.Y. Sup. 2007) – 74-year-old male Plaintiff suffered serious injuries, including multiple facial fractures, partial hearing loss, and bilateral hand degloving, after he was attacked and mauled by five stray dogs at a boardwalk owned and maintained by Defendant city. The case settled prior to trial for $3,000,000.

We Advocate For You; Call Our Office Today

Our firm recognizes the difficulties that injured clients face, financially and physically. When you team up with us, you will not only have an attorney working with you side by side but you will also have a strong legal ally and advocate. We genuinely care about the outcome of your case, and we do everything in our power to help you secure a positive case result. To discuss your options, call us at 716-992-2222 or fill out our contact form.

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