New York State has complicated dog bite statutes that are not always clear about whether you can hold the dog’s owner liable for your injuries.
An Oakdale, Long Island dog bite lawyer can help you hold the dog’s owner responsible for your physical and emotional damages. Call 631-600-0000 to schedule your free case review, and let the attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. help you determine your legal options based on the facts of your case.
What Do I Need to Know About New York State’s Dog Bite Laws?
New York Agriculture & Markets Code section 121 outlines the responsibilities of dog owners and offers two options for us to recover compensation after a dog attack. We must meet the criteria under one of these two options to win compensation in your case. These options include:
Proving a “Dangerous Dog”
If we can show the dog has a history of similar behavior or threatening to attack people, farm animals, or companion animals, we can hold the owner liable. This is true even if they acted reasonably and tried to prevent your injuries. The owner of a “dangerous dog” is strictly liable for their dog’s bad behavior, no matter what.
The difficult part of this, however, is that it is often hard to prove a dog is dangerous. If there is a history of bites or attacks, it may be easier. However, most dangerous dogs do not have a documented history with the SPCA. Instead, we have to provide evidence of their previous threatening behavior and document their “dangerous” status.
We will look into the attack, including gathering information from the SPCA about the history of the dog in question. If we can prove the dog’s history, we can file a claim with the owner’s insurance policy or file a personal injury lawsuit to collect compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other related expenses. We can often advise you of your legal options for compensation during our initial consultation
Proving the Owner Acted Negligently
If the dog has no history of violent attacks or threats, we will need to provide evidence the owner acted negligently. This requires showing:
- The owner did not take reasonable action to prevent the attack, such as keeping the dog contained or on a leash
- This allowed the attack to take place
- You suffered injuries in the attack
In many cases, we see owners who failed to follow local leash laws. Their dogs ran free in the neighborhood and attacked a neighbor or visitor. The owner could have prevented the bite incident by keeping their dog in a fenced yard or on a leash, but they did not do so. If we can prove the dog was running free, we can often win a claim on your behalf.
If Police Arrested the Owner, Do I Still Need to File a Claim?
Occasionally, police may respond to a dog bite incident and arrest the animal’s owner. Usually, this only occurs when the dog is a known “dangerous dog,” the owner failed to keep him contained, and the victim suffered serious injuries and potential disfigurement. They will likely face misdemeanor charges and have to pay fines. However, you will still need to pursue a claim to recover the compensation you need to pay for your medical care and other expenses.
When we file a claim based on the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, we can request a full menu of damages. This includes not only your medical bills, but also lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other financial losses. With the evidence of your damages, we can usually negotiate a fair settlement, recovering the compensation you deserve. Occasionally, we may have to file a personal injury lawsuit, asking the judge to determine the outcome of your case and award you fair damages based on your injuries.
How Long Do I Have to File My Dog Bite Lawsuit?
New York State gives you three years from the date of a dog bite to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner, in most cases. If the victim is under the age of 18 or suffers from a cognitive issue, you may have more time. It is important to act quickly, however. Evidence can disappear within days in these cases, so we need to get to work on your claim as early as possible.
The state’s statute of limitations only applies to civil suits, and most of these cases settle out of court. However, the deadline also plays a key role in getting the best settlement possible from an insurance claim. Knowing they could face a lawsuit provides an incentive for many dog owners and their insurance companies to pay out the settlement you deserve. If we wait and let the deadline pass, we may not be able to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and have no recourse in the court system.
How Can I Reach a Dog Bite Lawyer in Oakdale, Long Island?
Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our dog bite lawyers can evaluate your case and help you understand your options for compensation. Call our Long Island office at 631-600-0000 to schedule a time to meet with one of our personal injury attorneys today.