NY Dog Bite Laws

While dogs are popular household pets for individuals and families throughout New York, a man’s best friend can still bite or otherwise attack someone they are familiar with or a stranger – whether provoked or unprovoked. When it comes to the liability of dog owners for injuries caused by their dogs, New York has specific laws addressing such matters. 

According to New York Agriculture & Markets Code Section 123, if a “dangerous dog” causes injuries – by biting, attacking, or even knocking to the ground – to someone else, another person’s pet or service animal, or livestock, the owner or custodian is held liable for their dog’s actions. A dangerous dog is defined as one that attacks and either injures or kills a person, pet, or farm animal without reason or acts in a manner that would make a reasonable individual believe the animal is a severe and unwarranted imminent threat of serious injury or death. 

In New York, a dog owner is “strictly liable” for all medical expenses incurred by the injured party, even if the owner had taken reasonable precautions to restrain or otherwise control the canine. In other words, if an owner didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, he/she can still be held responsible for paying the other party’s hospital bills for his/her dog’s actions. 

For other types of damages, such as property damage, lost wages, and even pain and suffering, the injured party must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent, such as failing to take the reasonable precautions mentioned above. For instance, if a dog escapes its own yard, destroys a neighbor’s fence, enters the neighbor’s property, and then bites the neighbor, the injured party can only recover the costs of repairing or replacing the broken fence by proving the neighbor failed to prevent the dog from escaping the yard. 

Furthermore, a dog owner can also be criminally charged if the following circumstances are true: 

  • The dog has been declared a “dangerous dog” before 

  • The owner negligently allowed the dog to bite another person 

  • The other person suffered a serious injury 

If an owner attempts to restrain a “dangerous dog” but the canine overpowers the owner and kills someone else, then the owner could be charged with a misdemeanor. Any owner who faces criminal charges may also face civil liability. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous dog in Albany or face criminal charges from your dog’s actions, contact our personal injury attorney at O’Brien & Wood PLLC today at (518) 240-9992 for a free consultation.