OVER $450 MILLION IN SETTLEMENTS RECOVERED.
When a neighbor’s dog bit Sarah during her morning jog, she found herself dealing with a world of physical pain, emotional distress, and the uncertainty of handling the legal aspects of her situation to get compensation for her injuries. Having an experienced New York dog bite lawyer by your side can make all the difference in moments like these.
In this blog, we’ll review dog bite statistics and New York dog bite laws, guide you through the steps to take after a dog bite and outline the process of pursuing a dog bite lawsuit. With over 30 years of experience, our team is well-equipped to support you during this challenging time.
At The Harrison Law Group, we believe that clear communication and empathetic listening are crucial to providing the best experience, maximum value, and compensation for our clients – and that’s what you can expect from us.
If you or a loved one has suffered from the devastating consequences of a dog bite, contact us at (631) 465-9797 to schedule your FREE case consultation and strategy session with our skilled Long Island personal injury lawyer team.
Understanding the Prevalence and Impact of Dog Bites: Key Statistics
To better grasp the severity of dog bite incidents and their implications, let’s take a look at some key statistics related to dog bites in the United States:
- New York is on the top 10 list for states with the highest number and cost of dog bite claims in 2022, holding the No. 4 position.
- According to Forbes, as of 2023, 66% of United States households (86.9 million homes) own a pet.
- Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States – most of the victims are children. Nearly 1 out of 5 bites become infected.
- Out of these dog bites, around 800,000 individuals require medical attention for their injuries.
- Most dog bites (more than 50%) occur on the owner’s property and involve dogs familiar to the victim.
- According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost per claim nationally has risen 131.7% from 2013 to 2022 due to increased medical costs and the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards given to plaintiffs.
- Dog bites are responsible for over one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims in the United States, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
- Homeowner’s insurance paid $1,136 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2022.
Along with these sobering statistics, a recent New York article sounded the alarm about a spike in dog bites involving family pets. These statistics and article highlight the significance of dog bite incidents, the importance of responsible dog ownership, and the consequences of dog bites to the dog’s owner and victim.
New York Dog Bite Laws: A Quick Overview
The laws governing dog bites in New York can be complex, as the state employs a blend of the “one-bite rule” and “strict liability” approaches found in other jurisdictions. This unique combination has implications for the types of compensation that dog bite victims can seek.
When a dog owner is unaware of their dog’s dangerous nature, the victim may recover compensation solely for medical expenses arising from the attack. However, if the owner knows of the dog’s potential to cause harm, the victim can pursue additional damages such as lost wages, mental anguish, disabilities, and pain and suffering.
To be eligible for these broader damages, the victim must establish that the dog demonstrated a “vicious propensity” – a history of violent behavior. For instance, if a dog had previously bitten a child and later bit another, the first attack would meet the vicious propensity criteria.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience, but it’s crucial to remain calm and follow certain steps to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights. Here’s what to do following a dog bite incident:
- Seek medical attention: Your first priority is getting medical help for injuries sustained. Even if the bite seems minor, receiving professional care to prevent infection and properly document the injuries for any future legal action is essential.
- Exchange information: Obtain the dog owner’s name, address, and contact details. Collect information about the dog’s breed, age, and vaccination history, particularly rabies vaccination records.
- Report the incident: Contact your local animal control agency or police department to report the dog bite. This helps establish an official record of the incident and can help identify any patterns of aggression in the dog’s history.
- Document the scene: Take photos of your injuries, the location where the incident occurred, and any relevant details, such as warning signs, fencing, or other property conditions. If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information and accounts of what happened.
- Keep records: Maintain detailed records of any medical treatments, expenses, and lost wages due to the dog bite. This documentation will be important in supporting your compensation claim.
- Avoid discussing fault: Be cautious when discussing the incident with the dog owner or their insurance company. Avoid admitting fault or making statements that could be used against you in a legal case. It’s best to consult with an attorney before providing any formal statements.
If you decide to proceed with a claim, you generally have three years from the date of the dog bite to file a personal injury lawsuit. Consult with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
The Process of a Dog Bite Lawsuit
A dog bite lawsuit in New York typically involves several stages. While each case may differ, the general steps are as follows:
- Consultation with a lawyer: After a dog bite, consult a Long Island dog bite lawyer. They can help you understand your rights, evaluate your case, and guide you through the legal process.
- Investigation and evidence gathering: Your lawyer will investigate the incident, gather evidence, and determine whether the dog had a “vicious propensity.” This can include witness statements, medical records, and any prior history of aggression involving the dog.
- Filing a claim: The first step in a dog bite lawsuit is to file a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company. This typically involves submitting a detailed account of the incident, along with any supporting evidence. Your dog bite lawyer can help you prepare and submit this claim.
- Negotiations: If the insurance company accepts your claim, your lawyer will enter into negotiations to seek a fair settlement for your injuries. This may involve discussions, exchanging offers and counteroffers, and presenting evidence to support your case.
- Filing a lawsuit: If negotiations fail to yield a satisfactory settlement, your lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit. This involves drafting and submitting a formal complaint to the court, outlining the facts of the case and the damages you seek.
- Discovery: During the discovery phase, both sides exchange information, evidence, and witness testimonies relevant to the case. This process can involve written questions (interrogatories), document requests, and depositions.
- Mediation or settlement conference: Before the trial, both parties may participate in a mediation or settlement conference to resolve the case without going to court. A neutral third party or a judge may facilitate this process.
- Trial: If no agreement is reached, the case proceeds to trial. Both sides will present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies. A judge or jury will decide the outcome and the appropriate compensation, if any.
- Appeals: If either party is dissatisfied with the trial outcome, they may appeal the decision to a higher court. However, appeals can be time-consuming and costly.
It’s important to remember that every dog bite lawsuit is unique, and the specific process may vary depending on your circumstances.
Compensation in Dog Bite Cases
New York follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that even if you were partially at fault for the dog bite, you might still be able to recover damages. However, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.
Compensation can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the dog owner’s actions were particularly reckless or malicious.
Don’t Suffer from a Dog Bite Injury Alone – Contact the Long Island Dog Bite Lawyers at The Harrison Law Group Today!
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog and needs legal assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Harrison Law Group. Our highly experienced and compassionate team of Long Island dog bite lawyers is dedicated to helping you navigate the complex lawsuit process and securing compensation and other damages for your injuries.
We understand that effective communication and listening are key, and our successes in the past 30 years are a testament to the dedication and care we invest in every case. Your recovery starts with The Harrison Law Group – reach out now and let us help you rebuild your life after a dog bite injury.
In addition to meeting in person or virtually, we offer evening and weekend appointments.
Copyright © 2023. The Harrison Law Group, P.C. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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