Dogs are friendly, funny animals and most are well-behaved, even if they may playfully jump on visitors to say hello or roll around in something smelly. However, dog owners in New York must keep in mind that dogs are animals and can lash out and bite, even if they are unprovoked.
A dog bite can be a traumatic experience for the person bit. Dog bites can cause serious injuries, emotional trauma and in some cases permanent disfigurement or even death. Dog bite victims may have many questions about what their rights and options are for financial compensation and what will happen to the dog that bit them.
When is a dog considered “dangerous” in New York?
New York law states that when a person suffers a dog bite, they can contact the police. The dog bite victim has a right to a judicial proceeding. In this proceeding the judge will determine whether probable cause exists to believe the canine is “dangerous.” At a hearing following the initial proceeding, the petitioner bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the dog is dangerous.
If the judge finds the dog to be dangerous, the judge may order that the dog be put down or permanently confined if the dog had, without justification, attacked the alleged victim causing serious injury or death. The judge may also order that the dog be put down or permanently confined if the dog was known to have a vicious propensity because it had attacked someone in the past causing serious injury or death.
A dog is not considered dangerous if the dog attacked because the alleged victim was committing a criminal offence against the dog’s owner or on the dog owner’s property. A dog is also not considered dangerous if it attacked because the alleged victim was provoking it through tormenting, abuse, assault or physical threats. Finally, a dog is not considered dangerous if it attacked as a response to pain or injury.
What happens after a dog is deemed “dangerous”?
If the court finds that the dog is “dangerous,” the dog owner can appeal this decision in civil court. If the court had previously ruled that the dog was dangerous and should be put down, this process can be suspended pending the outcome of the dog owner’s appeal. There are fines that the owner of a dangerous dog may be subject to if their dog bites.
In addition, the owner of a dangerous dog can be held strictly liable in a subsequent lawsuit brought by the dog bite victim. Strict liability means that it is implied that, due to the legal finding the dog was “dangerous” it is already established that the dog owner had a duty to keep their dog from attacking and this duty was breached. Thus, the only findings that need to be made is that the attack caused the dog bite victim’s injuries and that this resulted in compensable damages. Strict liability applies to medical costs incurred due to the injury.
Dog bite victims have options
If you were attacked by a dog, it can turn your whole world upside down. Dog bites can cause significant injuries, emotional trauma, permanent disfigurement and even death. Fortunately, dog bite victims have options to hold the owner of a dangerous dog accountable for their pet’s actions.