There is no doubt that New Yorkers love their dogs. But what happens when your beloved Fido takes a bite out of one of your friends (or a total stranger)? When the unthinkable occurs, it is important to know what the law says so you can protect your rights as a dog owner – or as a victim injured by an unruly animal.

Overriding the “One Bite Rule”

A “one bite” rule exempts a dog owner from liability with an animal’s first offense. However, that law may be nullified if the dog has had to wear a muzzle in the past due to aggressive behavior or the owner has to repeatedly warn visitors that the dog bites. Individuals bitten by a dog who fits one of these categories can hold the dog owner liable for injuries.

The Liability of the Owner

When a dog bites, that animal becomes a liability for the owner. Dog bite liability may fall into three categories:

  • One-Bite Rule – If this is an active law in the state, it is up to the victim to prove the dog was dangerous, even if the animal had never bitten anyone before.
  • Dog-Bite Statutes (Strict Liability) – These laws hold the owner of animal responsible, even if the dog has no history of biting people.
  • Negligence – If a dog owner is careless with his charge (leaves a gate open, provides insufficient fencing), he can be cited for negligence if the dog bites someone as a result of the negligent act.

Dog bites may result in serious injuries and hospital bills. Whether you are the victim of an attack, or the owner of the animal that instigated the problem, legal assistance is essential in preserving your rights and pursuing appropriate compensation. Contact a Personal injury law firm for assistance with a dog bite case.