Syracuse New York Dog Bite Lawyer Explains How to Prove a New York Dog Bite Case

Would you keep an appliance in your home if you knew these facts about it:

(1) It injures about 800,000 people a year in the USA – with one out of every 6 injuries being serious enough to require medical attention.
(2) 75% of the injuries are to the victim’s face.
(3) Its victims are three times more likely to be children than adults.
(4) It is the fifth most frequent cause of emergency hospital visits for children in t he USA.
(5) The most severe injuries occur almost exclusively to children less than 10 years of age.

The answer is “YES”, you would keep such a product in your home. The product is called a “dog”, a/k/a “man’s best friend”. We humans love dogs and are willing to live with these risks because of the love, support and companionship that dogs provide. I am a dog owner myself!

But make no mistake; owning a dog is a BIG legal responsibility. If you do not act responsibly as a dog owner, you can, and should, be held accountable for injuries your dog causes. See my previous blog about dog safety tips.

Here are the basic rules for proving a New York dog bit case: In New York, a dog owner (defined as anyone who harbors a dog) is liable for dog attacks if, and only if, the dog bite victim can prove two things: (1) the dog had “vicious propensities” (i.e., a tendency to attack) and (2) the owner knew or should have known it. That’s a pretty straightforward two-step process. Or is it?

The problem is proving an owner knew of the dog’s vicious propensities. The best and surest way to do so is to show the dog bit someone before. If you can prove that, your case is usually a slam dunk. But sometimes you don’t have a prior bite. What then?

You can show “vicious propensities” in other ways, for example, if the dog tended to growl, snap or bare its teeth at people. It also helps if you can show that the owner tended to think of his own dog as dangerous by doing one or more of the following things: tying or chaining the dog up; fencing the dog in, keeping the dog as a guard dog, putting up “beware of dog” signs, or warning people verbally that the dog was dangerous.

Any dog can bite, but statistically the most likely dogs to bite are pit bulls and Rottweilers, and when these dogs bite, they mean business; together these breeds account for about 70% of dog-bite-related deaths.

So can you prove your New York dog bite lawsuit simply by showing the dog’s breed was dangerous? NO! New York courts have rejected the theory that certain dog breeds can be “assumed” in court to be more “vicious” than others. In other words, the courts reject “breeedism”, and instead treat all dogs equally in court, no matter what the breed.

If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, feel free to call or contact me for more information.

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