Annually, over four million people in the United States are bitten or attacked by dogs or animals. In many cases, these bites are severe enough to require medical attention. It is important to note that owners of these animals, are legally responsible when bites or attacks occur. In some instances, a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover and pay damages to the victim of an animal or dog attack or bite
A person’s ability to recover compensation for injuries brought on by an animal bite depends on where the bite or attack occurred. Laws which cover animal and dog bites vary between states, counties and cities. Consulting an attorney such as Zimmer &Associates can help you understand your exact rights if you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog or other animal
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and likewise dog bites can range from a small playful nip that doesn’t break skin to a ferocious bite which tears through skin penetrating muscle sometimes causing serious complications and other times leaving the victim with a life-long reminder of the attack in the form of significant scarring and/or disfigurement.
If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important that you retain the services of a lawyer experienced in representing dog and animal bite victims. Our law firm has recovered substantial sums of money for victims of dog attacks. We have represented children who have been bitten by dogs as well as seniors and everyone in between. Most of our clients who have been bitten by a dog are required to undergo plastic and/or reconstructive surgery at some point after the attack, however, we also successfully represent dog attack victims that do not require corrective surgery.
Regardless of the severity of the attack, the medical treatment required for such an attack is often quite expensive. Often times the pain associated with a dog bite can last for many years. Most of all, the scars and disfiguring effects of the attack can be a daily reminder of the horrific incident.
The following is a brief introduction to the law of Dog Bites in the State of New York:
New York courts have long recognized a cause of action that imposes strict liability on the owner for injuries inflicted by his dog if the victim can establish that the dog is vicious and that the owner knew or should have known about such vicious propensities. The state’s highest court ruled “that the owner of a domestic animal who either knows or should have known of that animal’s vicious propensities will be held liable for the harm the animal causes as a result of those propensities. Vicious propensities include the propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation.”
The state’s highest court has ruled that a jury is entitled to consider any evidence of a dangerous propensity, and that a prior bite is only one such type of evidence: [W]hile knowledge of vicious propensities “may of course be established by proof of prior acts of a similar kind of which the owner had notice,” a triable issue of fact as to whether the owner knew or should have known that its animal harbored vicious propensities may be raised by proof of something less. In a case in which a dog bit a child, we gave the example of evidence that a dog had, for example, “been known to growl, snap or bare its teeth,” or that “the owner chose to restrain the dog, and the manner in which the dog was restrained.”
In addition, an animal that behaves in a manner that would not necessarily be considered dangerous or ferocious, but nevertheless reflects a tendency to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm, can be found to have vicious propensities albeit only when such proclivity results in the injury giving rise to the lawsuit.
Presence of “Beware of Dog” signs standing alone are not enough to imply that dog owner knew of his dog’s vicious propensities. A defendant who establishes by undisputed proof that his dog had never bitten anyone before and had never bared its teeth or growled at anyone before is entitled to summary judgment. The fact that a dog was chained and strained on its chain and barked when people approached was held insufficient to create an inference that the dog was vicious.
In determining whether an animal has vicious propensities, a jury may consider the nature and the result of the attack on the victim. Evidence of the severity of injuries by prior victims of same dog is admissible as probative of the dog’s vicious propensities and the owner’s knowledge of same.
The “owner or lawful custodian” of a “dangerous dog” is strictly liable for medical costs resulting from injury caused by such dog to a person. The owner is a person who harbors or keeps the dog. A “dangerous dog” is one that “without justification” either (a) attacks and injures or kills a person, “companion animal,”
farm animal or “domestic animal” or (b) “behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death” to one or more of the foregoing. There is an exception for dogs assisting the police. The conduct of the victim, either on the day of the attack or at a much earlier time, also can exempt a dog from “dangerous” status.
In addition to liability for medical costs, the owner of a dangerous dog may be required to pay a fine if his negligence results in a dog bite to a person, service dog, guide dog or hearing dog. The amount of the fine depends on whether the injury was to a person or animal, the seriousness of the injury, and whether the dog previously was adjudicated to be a dangerous dog.
If you or a loved one have been injured from a dog bite, then you need to act right away and contact Zimmer & Associates. Our firm is experienced in handing all types of dog bite cases. We will evaluate your case and fight hard for the compensation you deserve. Most often, dog bites are covered by the homeowner’s insurance. By contacting our firm, we can determine if this is the case. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, call Zimmer & Associates now at 1-866- 270-HURT (4878), or fill out our simple case evaluation form and we will contact you within 24 hours.