Dog Bite Law in New York: When Is There Strict Liability?
It might seem like a simple area of the law, but across the United States, dog bite law is complicated and difficult to understand. Not only do the scenarios and circumstances of a dog bite vary greatly, but also each state has very different rules and laws. In one state, it could be very clear that the owner has liability for the financial damages resulting from a dog bite, while in another state, dog bite law would dictate a different outcome.
For example, in Alaska or Arkansas, dog bite law adheres to the state’s negligence laws and requirements, while under Georgia’s laws an owner only has liability if the dog is considered a “dangerous animal” (as that is defined in the state). States such as Idaho have a one-bite rule that dictates how liability is assessed and in Maine has different rules for when a dog bite occurs on the owner’s property versus elsewhere.
New York has yet another system for determining liability. New York dog bite law imposes strict liability in any instance when the owner knew of the dog’s dangerous nature, but only holds an owner to regular negligence standards in other situations. What does this mean and how does it impact owner liability for dog bites in the state? Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C. explains.
What Is Strict Liability?
In most personal injury cases, such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and slip and falls, responsibility and liability are dependent on the plaintiff showing negligence or wrongdoing. The defendant must have acted irresponsibly, less responsibly than the average person, in causing an accident or injury. Strict liability does not require the plaintiff to show evidence of negligence, recklessness, or intention to cause harm.
Under the theory of strict liability, a defendant is liable for a personal injury simply by being the cause of the harm. The same concept is applicable to New York criminal law. A person can be guilty of a strict liability offense, such as driving while intoxicated, without any evidence of the defendant’s criminal intent. In the instance of New York dog bite law, it means the plaintiff doesn’t need proof of fault to hold the dog’s owner accountable.
When Is Strict Liability Used in Dog Bite Cases?
New York dog bite law requires a court to impose strict liability when a dangerous dog causes the injury.
Strict liability imposes liability on a dog owner, even when the defendant acted reasonably and responsibly to control the dog or warn about the dog’s habits. Wondering why strict liability is imposed on owners of dangerous dogs? Dog bite law in New York determines that a person has acted irresponsibly or put other people in danger simply by keeping a dangerous dog.
When a dog is found dangerous, either because of evidence the dog was previously aggressive, attacked without provocation, or caused a serious injury, the injured victim doesn’t need to show that the dog’s owner was negligent or reckless in controlling the dog or bringing the dog into a specific environment. Evidence of a dangerous dog and evidence the dog caused the plaintiff’s injuries is all that is needed for a successful dog bite case in New York.
While these cases are an easier path for a plaintiff, it is still necessary to present evidence of the dog’s dangerous nature and that the dog caused the injuries. A dog bite lawyer in New York can help build a strong case.
The exception to Strict Liability in New York Dog Bite Law
If a dog is not designated or found to be “dangerous” then dog bite law in New York requires evidence of negligence or recklessness to impose liability on the owner. In these instances, the dog’s owner is only responsible for medical bills and costs when he or she failed to use reasonable care to control the dog or warn others of the dog’s nature.
A case involving a non-dangerous dog is harder to win. There needs to be evidence the owner failed to exercise reasonable are, in addition to the need to show the dog caused your injuries. In these instances, turn to a New York lawyer with prior experience handling tough, complex dog bite cases. Turn to Law Office of David S. Leigh, P.C.
Our office offers a free initial consultation to any potential client. To schedule your consultation for a dog bite, call our New York office at (212) 843-0907.
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David S. Leigh
David S. Leigh is a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer committed to helping those in the New York Metro area recover and find fair compensation after an accident or injury.
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