Recent news reports have shown that over the past two years there have been 1,400 complaints have been received by the New York City Department of Health. The complaints were made on the 311 hot line and its Web site. Complaints came from all across New York with 482 calls coming from Brooklyn, 360 coming from Jamaica, 195 coming from The Bronx, and 183 coming from Manhattan.
This problem has led to some rather unique occurrences, including an incident in the Upper East Side where a door man was forced, out of fear, to allow a canine to seize the lobby of the building in which he worked. Actions in response to these canine related incidents have been extraordinary as well. Frustrated citizens have gone as far as pepper spraying dogs and leaving bags of dog feces at "misbehaving" owners' doors.
Issues with domesticated dogs are not uncommon. According to Forbes, State Farm, the nation's largest insurer, had to pay $90 million to dog bite victim's across 3,500 dog-bite complaints in 2010. Victims of dog-bites can seek damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. This could entitle the victim to thousands in compensation.
However, just because you have been the victim of a dog bite does not necessarily mean you have a case. In New York, a dog owner will be strictly liable for the injuries suffered by a person bitten by a dog only where the dog is shown to have vicious propensities and the owner knew or should have known of these propensities. This duty to control the dog can extend beyond the owner and onto the landlord of the property if it can be shown that the landlord knew the tenant was keeping a dog on the premises, the landlord was aware of the animals vicious propensities, and he or she was able to control or confine the animal.
Practically speaking, this can make dog bite cases somewhat difficult and an attorney who will your thoroughly investigate your case is essential. Unlike a car accident, where all you need is to show that the person you are intending to sue was negligent in that moment, for a dog bite case, you need proof of how the dog used to behave and owner's awareness of said behavior.
Common forms of proof that the dog is vicious include: prior acts of biting, the nature and severity of the attack itself, prior incidents of snapping, growling, baring teeth, other aggressive or intimidating behavior, or a combination of other factors including the use of a dog as a guard dog, restriction to a pen in the yard to keep it from guests, and the posting of a "beware of dog" sign. While none of these are guaranteed to work, the more that an attorney can uncover, the better the chance of a fair recovery.
This means if you have been bitten by a dog and are interested in suing, talking to an attorney as soon as possible can be very important, as it will allow the investigation to begin right away. The attorneys at Louis Grandelli, P.C., have significant experience handling dog bite cases, so if you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, contact us as soon as possible.