New York City Dog Bite Attorney
Dog Bite Injury Cases in Brooklyn & the Surrounding Areas
Each year, approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs, with about 800,000 bites requiring medical attention. In about 66 percent of the cases, victims were on or near their own property, and most victims knew the dog. Although public opinion blames certain breeds—such as pit bulls and Rottweilers—a U.S. study conducted between 1979 and 1998 revealed that the 238 fatalities resulting from dog bites that occurred in that time involved at least 25 different breeds.
In rare cases, victims may be liable for dog bites and attacks, such as when they conduct criminal activities on private property protected by a guard dog. But in the majority of cases, dog owners bear responsibility for their dogs, even if the victim might have prevented the incident by avoiding a dog or knowing how to properly approach it.
The attorneys at the Brooklyn-based law firm of Rubenstein & Rynecki have nearly five decades of experience helping victims of dog bites pursue compensation for their injuries and damages. We understand how physically painful and emotionally traumatic dog attacks are, which is why we provide compassionate, caring attention to each and every one of our clients. When you choose our team to represent you, we will be there for you every step of the way.
New York Dog Bite Laws
When it comes to dog bite injury claims, there are two types of statutes that typically come into play. Under strict liability statutes, dog owners are generally always responsible when their dogs bite and/or attack others, causing injury. In states that follow what is known as the “one-bite” rule, however, victims must typically prove that the dog had a propensity to bite or attack and that the owner knew about or should have known about the risk.
In dog bite cases, the state of New York follows both a strict liability statute and a one-bite rule, depending on the circumstances. Most dog bite cases fall under the one-bite rule; generally speaking, if you, your child, or your loved one was bitten by a dog, you must prove that the dog was likely to bite and that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that this was the case in order to recover compensation for certain damages, such as lost income or pain and suffering.
However, the state follows the rule of strict liability in cases involving “dangerous dogs.” Dog owners are also strictly liable for medical expenses related to dog bites. This means that a victim can seek compensation for all medical bills and related expenses resulting from a dog bite, even if the dog owner tried to restrain the dog or prevent it from biting.
What Is a “Dangerous Dog?”
New York defines “dangerous dogs” as those that:
- Have attacked, injured, and/or killed another animal or a human being
- Act aggressively, meaning in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe the dog could cause serious and imminent harm
There are some exceptions to this. If a dog acts aggressively or causes injury/death, but there is justification for its behavior, the dog may not be considered dangerous. Law enforcement dogs are also exempt from “dangerous dog” classification while acting in the line of duty.
When Are Dog Owners Liable for Injuries Caused by Bites?
Consider the following situations in which the owner could be considered liable:
- The owner let the dog run free despite existing leash laws in the area
- The dog has a history of being easily excited or violent, and the owner fails to take any reasonable steps to protect other people from the dog, such as leaving the dog in a locked room when house guests are visiting
- The fencing, rope, or chain used to restrain the dog is not strong or secure enough
- There was no “beware of dog” sign on the premises where a dog lived
While it is good to keep certain rules of thumb in mind regarding dog bites and dog owner liability, it is also important to remember that different cities, boroughs, and regions may have varying laws—so some of the examples listed above may not apply in a particular area, while others that are not mentioned could apply in your case.
Regardless, even in the strictest dog bite law jurisdictions, there are certain situations in which dog owners cannot be held liable for dog bites.
These include the following:
- A trespasser is bitten by the dog
- A veterinarian is bitten while treating the dog
- A person provokes the dog, such as by teasing the dog or hitting it, and is bitten as a result (except in cases involving children)
After a dog bite or attack in New York City, it is important to act quickly to ensure the best possible chance of recovering compensation in a personal injury case. Seek medical attention immediately and then consult a lawyer to review your legal options.
What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog
Even a relatively minor bite can become a vital medical concern due to the possibility of disease. If the owner is present, you need to obtain contact information and try to ascertain whether the dog received all legally required immunizations. You should also obtain the dog’s tag numbers, if possible. See a doctor right away to assess your injuries and start treatment.
Then, schedule a free consultation with an experienced New York City dog bite lawyer at Rubenstein & Rynecki to learn about the most appropriate legal options for your circumstances. If your doctor confirms that you have only minor injuries, we may recommend you file an insurance claim against the policy of the dog owner. But for moderate to severe injuries, you may need our skilled support to take legal action through an out-of-court settlement or a lawsuit.
Damages in Dog Bite Cases
Dog bites and attacks can result in serious injuries that may require immediate medical attention. This is especially true when the victim is a small child, which, sadly, is the case most of the time. Victims may require hospitalization and various ongoing treatments to prevent infection and other complications. They may be unable to return to work for days, weeks, or even months. And, often, these hardships pale in comparison to the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the attack.
At Rubenstein & Rynecki, our attorneys fight for maximum compensation for our clients, including the following damages:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income/wages
- Lost earning ability/disability
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety, depression, and related mental health disorders
- Lost enjoyment of life
When a person is tragically killed by a dog, our attorneys can help surviving family member seek justice. We have successfully brought wrongful death lawsuits against responsible parties, allowing families to secure the monetary resources they needed to navigate the healing process.
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in New York?
Dog bite cases fall under the general personal injury statute of limitations, meaning you have three years from the date of the bite/attack to file your lawsuit. In nearly all cases, if you do not bring your claim within the three-year time limit, you will lose your chance to sue and will not be able to recover compensation for your damages.
We encourage you to reach out to our New York City dog bite attorneys as soon as possible if you or someone you love was attacked by a dog or any other animal. Whether it was someone’s pet or a stray, our attorneys can help you understand your legal options and immediately begin building your case.
Get the Support You Need from Rubenstein & Rynecki
If you suffer a dog bite injury in New York, it costs nothing to schedule a free consultation with an injury lawyer at Rubenstein & Rynecki to discuss your case and learn how we can help. Representing victims since 1972 and founded in 1996, our Brooklyn law firm has the experience, skills, and resources needed to help you pursue the monetary damages you deserve.
If we do not recover compensation for you, you do not pay! We provide legal services in English, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Greek, and Creole.