Individuals are bitten by dogs all the time. The bites can range from not breaking the skin to being so severe that the person is savagely mauled.

The Queens NY law firm of POPICK & RUTMAN is highly experienced in handling dog bite cases. We have proven to the courts and insurance companies that the biting dogs have a dangerous propensity by showing that the owner never properly trained the dog or socialized the dog. Most dogs are not automatically tail-wagging, happy animals. They need social contact and proper training to behave properly. These are all matters that are explored when we handle a dog bite case.

The laws in New York regarding dog bites are not based upon the breed of the dog. Instead the rules are based upon whether the dog previously demonstrated a “dangerous propensity”. Therefore, if you are bitten by a vicious looking pit bull you do not automatically have a case. But if you were bitten by a toy poodle or a sweet looking cocker spaniel that has a history of biting people then you have a case. The courts have reviewed many arguments that a dog was at fault because it is a dangerous breed such as a pit bull, German Shephard or Doberman. But the courts have repeatedly ruled that being of a certain breed is not grounds for liability.

New York has a strict liability rule. Agriculture and Markets Law 121 makes an owner of an animal liable for the medical bills resulting from the dog bite if it is shown that the animal is dangerous. The owner of the animal is strictly liable for compensatory damages (pain and suffering) if it is shown that the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

This rule that the owner must have prior knowledge of the animal’s dangerous propensity is sometimes known as the “one bite rule”. If the dog bites someone then the owner knows that the dog or animal is dangerous. But if it has never bitten anyone before, the owner can claim that he/she has no notice that the dog or animal is dangerous.

The “one bite rule” does not require an actual bite. An injured person can show that the owner knew the dog was dangerous because it growled in a menacing manner whenever it was in the presence of people or that it bared its teeth or barked at strangers or lunged at strangers.
Liability for injuries can arise for scenarios other than bites. Sometimes a dog can jump on a person and knock them down causing injuries. Again, if it can be established that the dog has a history of this type of behavior then liability can be established.

Insurance coverage is always an issue in dog bite cases. In some instances the dog in question belongs to a tenant in a building. The tenant may not have insurance but the owner of the building does. Therefore, we may need to prove that the owner knew that the dog was dangerous so that we can have a viable claim against the owner. A situation may arise where the dog’s owner knew their animal was dangerous but there is a question of whether the building owner knew it was dangerous.

If you or someone you know has been attacked or bitten by a dog, then call the law firm of POPICK & RUTMAN today at (718) 321-7460 to discuss your case.