Dog attacks can cause serious injuries, permanent scarring, and emotional trauma. They are especially scary when the dog is large or the victim is a child or elderly person. Whether or not New York state laws allow you to hold the dog’s owner responsible for your injuries varies depending on a number of factors.
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our personal injury lawyers understand the complicated laws in place that govern liability for Long Island dog bites. We can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation, if possible. Call us today at 631-600-0000 to schedule a time for your free case evaluation with a dog bite lawyer in Sayville, Long Island.
What Should I Do If I Suffer a Dog Bite Injury in Sayville?
Getting the medical care you need after a dog bite incident must be your top priority. Even minor dog bites require immediate medical attention. These puncture wounds are at a high risk of infection and need cleaning as quickly as possible. We recommend calling 911 and getting emergency medical treatment on the scene or visiting the nearest emergency department as soon as possible.
Not only is this important for your health and well-being, it establishes the seriousness of your injuries and provides documentation of when and where the bite occurred. You may also want to take pictures of your injuries before treatment. This is often easier than trying to describe them later on during the healing process.
Whether or not you called local police and first responders, you should also report the dog to your local animal control department. They will investigate the dog bite and can provide important information and evidence about the dog in question if we pursue a claim against its owners.
What Does New York State Law Say About Dog Owner Liability?
State laws regulate the responsibility of dog owners in a dog bite case. Under this statute are two ways we can recover compensation for your dog bite injuries.
Prove the Dog Is “Dangerous”
New York has a “dangerous dog” statute that automatically holds the owner of a so-called dangerous dog liable for any future bites or injuries. This means they must pay for your medical treatment, time away from work, and other losses if their dog attacks you. It is not always easy to prove whether a dog fits this bill or not, though.
A dangerous dog has a history of violent or threatening behavior. They may have previously bitten someone else, but in many cases they earn this name with lesser offenses. A dog that has injured farm or companion animals or has a documented history of threatening to attack people or animals can also lead to this categorization.
It is important to note that the owner of a dangerous dog is responsible for the injuries that dog causes, even if they acted reasonably and attempted to prevent the incident.
Prove the Owner Is Negligent
If the dog in question does not have a history of violent attacks or threats, we need to show the owner acted failed to take reasonable actions to prevent the dog from biting and this negligence led to the attack. For example, if the owner failed to close the gate and the dog came into your yard, we can most likely recover compensation to pay for your injuries. The owner had a responsibility to follow all applicable leash laws and to keep their dog contained. If they had not allowed the dog to run free, it could not have bitten you.
What Is the Difference in Criminal Charges and a Civil Case Against a Dog Owner?
In some cases, the owner of a dog who attacks another person or animal may face criminal charges. This usually occurs only when the dog has a history of violent attack or threats, the owner acted negligently, and the bite caused serious injuries such as death or serious disfigurement.
While it may make you feel somewhat vindicated if the dog owner in question faces this type of misdemeanor charge, it does not help you much. You still owe thousands in medical bills, need money to cover your time away from work, and experience substantial pain and suffering. This is where a civil case comes in.
If we can show the owner knew their dog was dangerous—or we have proof the owner otherwise acted negligently—we can file an insurance claim with the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy provider. Often, we can negotiate a fair settlement based on your documented damages and the facts of your case. This is the most common way we get compensation for dog bite victims. Occasionally, though, we need to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to recover compensation for the damages you suffered.
How Long Do I Have to File a Civil Suit After a Long Island Dog Bite?
In general, we have three years from the date you suffered your injuries to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Minors, seniors with dementia, or other dependents may have an extended time limit, depending on the circumstances.
While this statute of limitations only applies to filing a lawsuit, it plays a key role in negotiating with the insurance company for an out-of-court settlement. Without the option to file a lawsuit, the insurance company would have little incentive to offer a fair settlement and give you the compensation you deserve. For this reason, we need to begin the claims process early enough to ensure we still have this option available.
How Can I Talk About My Injuries With a Dog Bite Lawyer in Sayville, Long Island?
The personal injury team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can analyze your case and explain your legal options for compensation. If possible, we will file a claim against the dog’s owner and pursue the maximum payout available based on the facts of your case. Call our Long Island office today at 631-600-0000 to get started with your free case evaluation.