What can often appear to be a friendly dog can turn into viscous canine at a moments notice. If you or a loved one were attacked by a dog, the New York Dog Bite Guide was created by Hamburg personal injury lawyer Daniel Chiacchia to help residents hold the responsible party accountable for their injuries.
Unfortunately, innocent people suffer from dog bite Injuries all the time across New York State. Many of these people suffer serious injuries and some are even killed by these animal attacks. Annually, there are more than 850,000 dog bites requiring medical attention, and over four million dog bites injuries ranging from minor injuries to serious injury. If you have been bitten by dog or any animal, seek medical attention, and ask the owner for their and their pets’ information, then contact Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP. We will fight to get you the full compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Statistics
In the United States alone, approximately 100 children are bitten by dogs every day, and approximately 92 of these children will need medical attention. While dog bite fatalities are rare, statistically 15 to 20 people are killed in vicious dog attacks every year.
Most dog bites are to the face, causing infection, trauma and scarring. Wounds can be classified as cuts, lacerations, abrasions, crushing wounds or punctures. These wounds can often result in fractured bones and/or disfiguring scars. Frequently, surgical repair is needed, and eyesight or hearing is sometimes damaged permanently.
Seeking the Help of a New York Dog Bite Attorney
If you were injured or a family member was injured or killed by any animal, you can sue the person who has, or should have had, control over the animal. A dog owner is required to control/restrain his or her animal in order to ensure public safety. The dog owner may be held responsible if you are on public property or if you are legally on private property.
Dog owners may be held accountable for injuries sustained by their animals if the animal was not properly secured on their premises, (under premises law) on a leash, or if the owner knew that the animal was prone to violence.
If you have serious injuries as the result of a dog bite please contact our experienced Hamburg dog bite lawyers today. We offer a free case evaluation and would be happy to go over the details of your case, and explain your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions | New York Dog Bite Guide
What Should I Do After I Get Bit?
We have many situations where people are bit by dogs and the first thing you have to find out is whether that dog had its rabies shots. You have to identify who the owner is. You want to report it to the local police agency, or if they have a dog control person, report it to them. They can verify whether or not this dog had its shots. If it didn’t, you might be in a situation where they have to quarantine the dog and test it to make sure that you don’t need to get sick.
Beyond that, if it is a serious dog bite situation, the dog bite laws in New York are a little different than some other areas or some other states in that we have to show that the dog had some type of vicious propensity to act in the way it did before your actual incident. We like to get people out canvasing the areas, talking to neighbors, mailmen, UPS drivers, FedEx drivers, etc. People are in that neighborhood all the time that may have had contact with this dog that may be able to shed light on whether or not this dog has some vicious propensities in the past.
We had a case where we got an affidavit from a mailman that actually saved our case and talked about how this dog would go after him every time he delivered the mail. When you have those types of things, it really helps us get over the hump as far as proving the dog’s vicious nature.
Does a Beware of Dog Sign Matter?
Owners of dogs also have a duty to warn people that are coming on their property if they have a dog that has some vicious propensities. Sometimes you see these “Beware of Dog” signs, and it could affect your case to some extent because you’re on notice that that dog may be a little violent or vicious, so you should exercise more caution yourself. That can be used against you. There’s a thing in the law called comparative fault, where it’s not only the negligence of the person who has the dog, but the negligence of the person that was bit. We see it sometimes with younger kids when they do things to aggravate the dog or get the dog to respond in a vicious nature toward them. That’s used against you.
The same thing with the “Beware of Dog” sign: you have some knowledge that something’s up with this dog, so you have to exercise more care around the dog and maybe not even enter the property. If you’re a delivery person or somebody like that, you’re on notice; maybe you need to get another way to communicate with the owner of the house.
What Questions Should You Ask the Owner of a Dog That Bit You?
We handle dog bite cases all the time. In fact, we just got one recently. My client was all worried about what information they needed to obtain from the dog owner, and I said to them, “You need to find out – first and foremost – whether the dog is up to date on its shots.” If not, the dog needs to be tested to make sure it’s not rabid so that you don’t have to go through additional medical treatments. That’s the first thing. In cases like this, the law in New York is kind of like a one-bite rule. In bringing your claim, you have to show that the dog or other animal – it could be any kind of animal – has previously shown some type of vicious propensities by doing something similar. These cases are difficult because, especially when you’re dealing with people’s house pets, that propensity issue can be hard to prove.
With these types of cases, it’s very important to get your Hamburg dog bite attorney involved early because we can do things like talk to the mailman, the UPS driver, and FedEx drivers who deliver to that house. We will ask them whether the dog has ever shown aggressive tendencies and so forth. We’ve even had cases where our investigator has gone out and videoed the dog acting violently toward others by running at the fence, growling at people and things like that. That proof can help set up these types of claims.
Does Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Homeowner’s insurance does cover dog bite cases and if the dog owner has renter’s insurance, the renter’s insurance may cover it as well. We’ve had some situations, though, where people have a dog and the dog has bit somebody, and the insurance company then puts an exclusion in the policy for future bites of that particular dog. We’ve had that situation come up before in a really tragic case involving an English bulldog that attacked an elderly woman and there was an exclusion in the policy. It’s important to make sure that there’s coverage in place right away, when we get these claims, because we want to make sure that there’s a source to get people compensated for their pain and suffering.
Many times with these dog bite cases, it’s not so much the medical treatment – because a lot of it is scar related – it’s the permanent effect of having that scarring. Sometimes tendons get severed during a bite and there may be some surgery involved, so we really want to make sure that there’s coverage available and do our investigation.
What if the Owner is Uninsured?
If the owner of the dog doesn’t have insurance, you could be out of luck as far as pursuing a claim. We tell people all the time, if there’s not insurance coverage in place to protect you, then unless the guy has a substantial amount of assets, you’re really not going to have an easy time getting recovery from that person. You could get a judgment against him for his negligence in caring for this dog or harboring this dog, but because it’s a negligence situation, he can always file bankruptcy to get rid of that judgment against him.
If someone does have some assets, sometimes we can do some things to get you some compensation for your injuries. It’s not always what you would hope for, but it may be something. It makes it really difficult if there’s not insurance involved.
How Do You Determine a Good Dog Bite Case?
A viable dog bite case is one in which it is possible to prove that the dog has demonstrated at least some vicious propensities. It’s even more helpful if the dog also looks vicious. That visual image tends to help the bite victim’s case. I believe it has much more jury appeal when, instead of a little toy poodle that rips into someone’s face, the dog involved is a Rottweiler or a pit bull.
When it comes to setting up the liability for your case, it’s important to be able to show that you, as the client, did nothing wrong that could have caused that dog to act the way it did. In other words, you were just minding your own business, or you just reached down to pet the dog, and the dog attacked you. Showing those two things – the dog’s propensity for viciousness and that you didn’t do anything wrong – are a couple of important factors that we look for when going forward with a dog bite case.
Is There a Minimum Amount of Medical Bills to File an Injury Claim?
One of the questions I very frequently hear from injured people who are considering bringing a lawsuit concerns whether or not doing so requires that they incur a minimum amount of bills for their medical treatment. The answer to that, very simply, is no. When you are injured in a dog attack, your medical treatment becomes very relevant to a potential lawsuit, particularly with regard to the damages for which you might be making a claim. They will be included in a potential lawsuit as part of those damages.
However, outside of some very limited circumstances – such as, for instance, in the case of a motor vehicle accident where you have an extraordinary amount of medical bills, out-of-pocket costs, or lost wages that exceed a certain minimum – those bills are just damages that you would include in your personal injury case. That total may be relevant to how much your case is worth, but it certainly does not prohibit you from contemplating a lawsuit to advance your claim simply because your medical bills haven’t yet reached a certain number.
Who is the Responsible Party in a Dog Bite Case?
From time to time, I meet with parents whose children have been attacked or bitten by a dog. The most important thing to remember about a dog bite case is that the dog’s owner is primarily responsible for making sure their animal is restrained properly and doesn’t pose a risk to anybody else. Even so, in certain circumstances, other people may be responsible. For instance, if an owner goes on vacation or asks somebody else to watch their dog for a moment, that person also has the responsibility to make sure the dog is properly restrained and doesn’t pose a risk to anybody.
Whenever a dog bite or other type of dog attack occurs, it’s really important for people to get as much information about the dog as they can, including who might be responsible for it – whether that is someone who was watching the dog at the time or the owner. Also, it’s important to get as much information as possible from the dog warden. The local municipal dog warden will have information – or access to information – as to whether the dog is properly vaccinated or poses any other sort of health risk.
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At Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP, our mission is to deliver the finest quality legal representation while providing clients with the personal attention they deserve. Our experienced personal injury attorneys in Buffalo and the surrounding area have successfully handled every type of personal injury case from auto accidents, slip and falls, sex abuse, construction accidents, truck crashes, and dog bites.