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How to hold a dog’s owner responsible after being bitten

Dogs may be known as man’s best friend, but they don’t always live up to such a noble description. If one has seriously bitten you, you know how painful and terrifying that situation can be. Getting the necessary financial and medical support for your injuries can be a challenge, and holding dog owners responsible could be key to preventing future incidents.

New York’s “one bite” rule

New York law has a strict definition of liability—in situations where owners should have been aware of a dog’s “vicious propensities,” they are liable for your injuries. This means that dogs that have tried to bite or lunged at people in the past should be properly controlled by their owners. It also means that any dog owners who have signs that warn of the possible danger that their dog might pose could be liable if that dog bit a person while not leashed or fenced.

However, if you are the first victim that has come forward about the dog’s aggressive behavior, your case may be more challenging. In situations where a dog doesn’t have a clear record of biting or violent behavior in the past, other people may need to come forward for the dog owner to be considered liable.

If a dog does not have a history of biting, witnesses are essential.

Dog owners do not usually want to think of their pets as “vicious,” and their side of the story is likely to reflect that. In these situations, witnesses are very important to confirm what happened. Can they attest that the dog bit you? Were you in an area that you were legally allowed to be in, like a sidewalk or the lot of a commercial business? Was the dog unprovoked? The particulars of this incident are the backbone of any personal injury case, and witnesses can help confirm your story.

Work with a personal injury attorney.

Every injury case is different, and speaking with a lawyer can help you explore the options available to you in the aftermath of an injury. Your attorney can not only help you determine whether a dog owner could be responsible for the bite, they can also help collect information about the dog’s past behavior, witness statements and other information that supports your case.