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Articles Posted in Animal Attacks

vicious-dog-200x300Dog bite victims’ lawyers (like me) have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years: Severe dog bite injuries are growing while insurance coverage for them is shrinking.  Why?  Two intersecting trends are the root cause:

Trend number 1:  Dogs are getting meaner, and meaner. The percentage of new dogs that are pit-bull types (included mixes) has been growing. Pit bulls are now the fifth most popular dog to own, and that number is growing.  They account for about 20% of dogs in the USA. The meaner dogs get, the more likely it is for you or your loved ones to become victims.

Trend number 2:  More and more homeowner insurance companies are sneaking “dog-attack/bite” exclusions in their policies.  Some of the carriers simply refuse to provide any coverage at all for dog-attack injuries.  Others exclude only certain breeds – those considered most aggressive – including bit bulls, German shepherds and Doberman pinschers. The dog owner usually discovers the exclusion only after their dog has done the deed.

Every once in a while, my news feed delivers to me some horrendous story about a lawsuit involving a vicious attack by someone’s exotic pet animal such as a monkey or wolf or bear.  Yes, some folks don’t find owning a standard run-of-the-mill dog or cat satisfying enough.  No sir, they want to take a “walk on the wild side”.  They might get a pet wolf, boa, miniature crocodile – you name it.

Since this is a legal blog, and a New York one, I am going to speak about what you have to prove in New York if you are attacked by a pet animal such as a bear or wolf versus the proof you need if you are attacked by a traditional pet – like a dog.  There’s a legal difference!

Let me briefly digress.  We had a case several years ago where our client accepted an invitation to visit a friend who was soon to be the lucky recipient of lawsuit papers signed by yours truly.  What did he do to earn such an honor?  He harbored his own private collection of caged bears and other exotic animals, a miniature zoo. Just a nice little hobby. He loved showing off his trophy beasts to friends and neighbors, and that’s what he did to our client.  Unfortunately, he failed to warn our client about the length of the bears’ arms.  Our client inadvertently wandered too close to a cage, and the bear got him in – well – a bear hug.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details of what happened next.

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