Helping You Recover Compensation After an Unexpected Animal Attack in NY
Dog owners are responsible for keeping their pets under control. Unfortunately, people don’t always watch after their animals like they should.
Being bitten or attacked by a dog is incredibly frightening. You may still feel intimidated or traumatized weeks or months after the event — to say nothing of the very real physical effects of a dog attack.
If you’ve recently been injured by a dog bite in the Kingston area, you might be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. In many cases, the pet owners (or their homeowner’s insurance provider) may be responsible for reimbursing you for all your losses, which can add up to much more than victims sometimes realize.
But there’s a lot to know about New York’s dog bite law. In the sections that follow, we explore the New York Dog Bite Law and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about victims’ rights after an unexpected animal attack.
The Kingston dog bite lawyers at O’Connor & Partners have years of experience in handling a wide range of dog and animal attacks in New York. In many of these cases, it is ultimately an insurance company that is liable for your injuries. Insurers work very hard to reduce or avoid their liability, but we are committed to working even harder for the people we represent.
You can count on us to fight for your rights and demand every single penny you deserve.
The New York Dog Bite Law Explained
You may have heard that New York has a “one-bite rule” or, alternatively, that New York is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. While some states follow one of those rules or the other, the situation in New York is a bit more complicated: our state’s dog bite rule combines elements of both.
If the Dog Has Never Attacked Anyone Before
Even if it is the dog’s very first bite or attack, the pet owner is still strictly liable for all of your medical and/or veterinary bills. This is significant because these damages alone can add up to a substantial amount of money. You don’t even have to prove that the dog owner was negligent in any way. As long as you can prove that the bite or attack happened, you can recover your medical and/or veterinary damages from the owner.
However, if the dog has never attacked anyone before, you will not be able to recover non-medical damages (e.g., pain and suffering, lost income due to time away from work, emotional distress, etc.) unless you can also prove one of these things:
- The owner failed to leash the dog in violation of a leash law
- The owner failed to reasonably restrain an out-of-control dog
- The owner knew that the dog was dangerous
- The owner had trained the dog to be aggressive or to attack
- The owner commanded the dog to attack
- The owner is cruel or abusive to the dog (or otherwise mistreats it)
These things are not necessarily easy to prove, but an experienced Kingston dog bite attorney can help you investigate the dog’s history and nature, identifying any argument that might help bolster your claim for compensation.
If the Dog Has Attacked Before
Once a dog has bitten or attacked someone, the owner is effectively “on notice” that the dog is dangerous and may bite again. In this case, victims can recover medical and non-medical damages.
Dangerous Breeds & Other Aggressive Dogs
Some dog breeds are especially dangerous and prone to attack. Additionally, some dogs — regardless of breed and/or bite history — have an especially aggressive personality. In these cases, there may be evidence that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous and is therefore liable for all the damages that transpire as a result.
What If the Dog’s Owner Is My Neighbor or Friend?
This is an extremely common situation, and your concern is understandable. Dog bites put friends, family members, and neighbors in an awkward position. No one wants to sue someone they’re close with, but at the same time, there are real injuries that need to be compensated.
Here’s the good news: in most of these cases, it is the pet owner’s insurance that must ultimately pay for your damages.
In fact, many of our clients have been able to seek compensation from a neighbor while still maintaining an amicable relationship because the neighbor didn’t ultimately incur personal financial responsibility.
If you’re unsure about your specific situation and how liability might be assigned, give our Kingston dog bite lawyers a call.
What If the Dog Attack Was My Fault?
Even though New York generally follows a rule of comparative negligence (meaning that victims can still recover partial compensation even if they were partially at fault), when it comes to dog bite cases, there are some situations that will completely prevent you from recovering.
For example, if you:
- Provoked the dog
- Mistreated the dog
- Were trespassing on private property
- Approached the dog despite clear warning signs
- Touched the dog despite being told not to
…you may not be able to recover compensation. But talk with our office first to make sure.
What Kinds of Dog Attack Injury Claims Does Your Law Firm Handle?
O’Connor & Partners has extensive experience in negotiating and litigating animal attack claims in New York. We are available to help with virtually any situation, including:
- A dog attack on a child
- A dog attack on an elderly or disabled person
- Another dog’s attack on your own dog or pet
- Dog attacks in public parks (or on other public property)
- Dog attacks on private property
- Escaped animal attacks
- Rabies infection and other diseases caused by animal attacks
- Fatality caused by a dog attack (wrongful death)
FAQs: Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Dog Attack in New York
Q: When are dogs required to be leashed under New York law?
New York does not have a statewide leash law. However, many individual localities have enacted laws that require dog owners to leash their pets in public. For example, the law on dogs in Poughkeepsie states that a dog must be “restrained by an adequate collar and leash or … accompanied by its owner or a responsible person able to control the animal.” Our lawyers can examine the law in the town or city where you were attacked to determine the owner’s legal responsibilities.
Q: How can I prove that the dog’s owner knew that it was dangerous or trained it to attack?
There are a number of ways our attorneys can seek to prove that a dog’s owner either knew it was dangerous or trained it to attack. For example, these days, it is often possible to find evidence on social media. We can also talk to neighbors, veterinarians, dog trainers, and other individuals who may have information about the owner’s and dog’s past history.
Q: Can I recover compensation for injuries other than those from a bite (i.e., if I fell and hit my head)?
Yes. If you were attacked by a dog, you are not limited to recovering financial compensation for injuries resulting from a bite. You can recover just compensation for all of your injuries from the attack, including, for example, a concussion or other head injury resulting from a fall.
Q: What if I don’t know who owns the dog that attacked me or my child?
If you don’t know who owns the dog that attacked you or your child, our attorneys can investigate and try to identify the owner. We will need you to provide as many details as you can, and it will be important for us to get to work as soon as possible.
Q: Can I recover my lost wages after a dog attack?
Yes, if you can prove that the dog has attacked before or that the owner is liable under any of the types of fault we listed above (i.e., failing to comply with a leash law or commanding their dog to attack). If you have a claim for lost wages, you can recover both:
- The income you have lost to date as a result of your injuries
- Any additional loss of income you are likely to incur in the future
Q: Can I recover financial compensation for emotional trauma?
Yes, subject to the same conditions as a claim for lost wages. At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, we have significant experience recovering financial compensation for our clients’ non-financial losses, and we can build a case for maximum compensation for your emotional trauma.
Q: What if the dog was with someone other than its owner?
If you were attacked at a kennel or veterinary clinic or if the dog got loose from a paid dog walker, you may still be entitled to financial compensation. When you engage our firm to represent you, our attorneys will carefully assess all of the facts and circumstances involved in your case in order to seek full compensation from all liable parties.
Do You Help with Other Animal Attacks (Not Just Dogs)?
Yes. O’Connor & Partners can assist with attacks by dogs, cats, household pets, farm and ranch animals, zoo animals, and many other animal attacks. However, there may be some situations (such as a wild animal attack) in which there is no liable party — though a homeowner’s insurance policy, for example, may still provide some coverage. We encourage you to contact our office and discuss the situation so we can help you determine whether there might be a path to compensation under New York personal injury law.
Schedule a No-obligation Dog Bite Injury Case Review
Dog bites are serious, and the damages can be significant. You or your loved one could be entitled to sizeable compensation. Strict time limits do apply to these claims, however, so please don’t delay.
O’Connor & Partners will never charge you a fee unless and until we get you money, so there is nothing to lose. Contact us online or call (845) 303-8777 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review right away.