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What If My Neighbor’s Dog Bit Me on My Property?

A black-and-red beware of dog sign on fence.

What If My Neighbor’s Dog Bites Me on My Property?

Dog bites aren’t uncommon. Today, more than 48 million American households have a canine friend. Sadly, dog bites aren’t very friendly, and they happen more often than many of us realize.

Even the friendliest pet can lash out when cornered, hurt, or threatened. While it can be upsetting to experience or witness a dog bite, it’s important to consider the legal implications of the event. Premises liability laws play a key role in determining whether a person is entitled to compensation following an accident or injury.

Regardless of where the dog was when the bite occurred, the dog’s owner is usually responsible for the injury and related medical expenses. Even if you were bit by your neighbor’s dog in your own yard, it’s highly likely that the neighbor will be held responsible for the injury.

However, like most areas of our legal system, there are always exceptions to keep in mind. In order to build and present your case as effectively as possible, it’s crucial to:

  1. Seek medical attention. This is your number one priority after suffering a dog bite. It’s essential to treat the wound to prevent infection and stop any bleeding.
  2. Make a report. After prioritizing your health, take the time to call animal control or the police as soon as possible. It’s crucial to report the injury to have appropriate documentation in court, in addiction to medical records from the hospital or clinic you visited for treatment. Taking a photograph of the injury is also encouraged.
  3. Seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Personal injury law is often complex, and emotions tend to run high in dog bite lawsuits. It can be overwhelming to file a claim on your own, especially if you were on amicable terms with the neighbor or friend who owns the dog. A seasoned attorney can guide your next steps to ensure nothing falls through the cracks, evidence is properly documented, and applicable negligence is revealed to the court.

What Are New York’s Dog Bite Laws?

Each state has their own unique set of laws and regulations when it comes to dog bites. New York courts acknowledge two factors to determine liability after a dog bite: strict liability and negligence. This means two things:

  1. The dog’s owner is strictly liable for all medical expenses that result from the injury. Even if the owner went to reasonable measures to restrain or prevent the animal from biting, they are still liable for medical bills related to the injury.
  2. New York courts will take negligence into account for any non-medical expenses. This means that the court can decide whether the dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care (such as not warning others about the animal’s aggressive temperament or informing people about any past accidents the dog has caused).

Proving a Dog Owner’s Negligence in Court

If you’re bitten by someone else’s dog, the key thing to remember is that you must prove negligence on the owner’s part if you wish to collect non-medical compensation.

To successfully prove that a dog owner exhibited negligence, it’s important to first consider the range of factors that the court will examine during your case. There are various elements to determine whether or not an owner demonstrated “reasonable care” under the circumstances. In most cases, the judge will consider factors like:

  • Fences and restraints. Was the dog tied up, but managed to get loose? Does the neighbor regularly allow the dog to meander off-leash? If the dog has an aggressive history, was there a warning sign on the fence? If an owner failed to take reasonable precautions (such as keeping the dog restrained) this could be an act of carelessness.
  • The dog’s background. Like people, animals have a running track record of past wrongdoings. If the owner possessed prior knowledge of similar accidents, yet failed to give an adequate warning or take reasonable action to restrain the animal, this is a potential act of negligence. An aggressive history is not limited to officially documented bites, either. A history of growling, snapping, or chasing are important traits that influence an owner’s responsibility to control the animal.
  • The type of breed. There are certain dog breeds that are assumed to be more dangerous or aggressive than others. This is why some landlords prohibit tenants to certain dog breeds in the dwelling, such as pit bulls, German shepherds, or rottweilers.

Seeking Non-Medical Compensation for a Dog Bite

Maybe your neighbor allows their dog to roam freely, and they ended up on your property where the bite occurred. Maybe they stopped by your house with the dog leashed, but released the leash when aggression escalated.

Regardless of the details, there various instances in which an owner’s negligence is responsible for the incident, in which case you may be eligible for non-medical compensation. This is intended to cover non-physical injury and suffering, such as lost income, other property damaged in the attack (such as your car or home), and emotional suffering.

Seeking Help from an Experienced Attorney

Dogs bite millions of Americans every year, yet less than 1% of people are compensated for their injuries. If you were recently bit by a neighbor’s dog, it’s absolutely crucial to seek immediate legal counsel from a skilled personal injury lawyer.

Personal injury cases, especially those between neighbors and friends, can get messy quickly. It’s important to have reliable legal representation to present your case as effectively as possible and achieve a favorable outcome in court.

Attorney Charles R. Gueli has spent more than 25 years successfully representing his clients in personal injury lawsuits, and has a well-earned reputation for passionate and aggressive advocacy in the courtroom. When it comes to your health and financial security, don’t settle for less than experienced counsel you can truly depend on.

If you’ve been injured, don’t wait to take action. Our dedicated team is available 24/7 to assist you. Call (516) 628-6402 to request a free consultation today.

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