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New York Appellate Court Discusses Elements of Dog Bite Case


Everyone who owns a dog in the United States should be aware of the many legal issues associated with having your pet. Most of us who own dogs, consider them four legged family members. When an incident arises that could jeopardize their survival, we become frantic. However, people are human and often make ill-advised choices. A New York Injury Lawyer says any animal, human or other, will bite if the situation calls for it. Responsible dog owners understand this. A responsible dog owner will not put his or her dog in a situation where the dog will feel that it is necessary to fight or flee.

Unfortunately, even the best-intentioned dog owners have a tendency to assume that a dog understands all human actions. What they should be doing, is attempting to understand how your dog will view any given situation in order to avoid an encounter that could jeopardize your dog. Early dog training classes are good for dogs. A dog is never too old to learn. The earlier the dog starts learning how to communicate with humans and vice versa, the better the chances are that the dog will not get into trouble with the law later in his life. When a dog is placed into a situation where he feels threatened, he will bite. When a dog bites a person, the dog is usually the one who is killed. It doesn’t seem fair that a dog can be put to death for defending itself, but there is no self-defense plea in dog bite cases.

The laws of New York state that in order for the owner to be charged for the vicious actions of his or her dog, they must have knowledge of the vicious propensity of the dog. If the owner has never been in a situation to suspect that the dog might bite, New York law says that the owner is not responsible. If an animal has teeth, they can bite. A Westchester County Personal Injury Lawyer said that most domesticated animals make the conscious choice not to bite. However, there are many situations where dogs have gone years with their owners never showing a desire to bite a person and then one day they bite someone.

When a dog bite case goes to court, the owner of the dog must prove that they did not know that the dog was dangerous. If they did know that the dog was dangerous, it is incumbent upon them to prove that they took steps to ensure that the dog would not hurt anyone. In court, the judge must instruct the jury, only on the information that is essential for the trial.

In one appeal, from the Supreme Court Second Department dated November 24, 1986, a verdict to recover damages for personal injuries which was entered on September 10, 1985. A Suffolk County Personal Injury Lawyer said the Supreme Court ordered a reversal of the trial court’s verdict because the judge gave improper instructions to the jury before jury deliberation. Specifically, the judge stated that dogs bite for many different reasons. He told the jury that dogs do not always bite out of viciousness, sometimes they bite out of self-defense, if they are being teased, or to protect someone. While this information is certainly true, there was no evidence given in the trial of the case to support any of those theories.

The court found that the instructions to the jury should tell them what the law says as it applies to the particular facts in the case being heard. The Supreme Court determined that the alternate reasons that the judge gave the jurors for the dog’s actions, effectively prejudiced them from finding in favor of the person who was bitten by the dog. The victim of the dog bite appealed and the verdict in the case was overturned. Specifically, the justices stated that the evidence did not support the examples provided by the judge.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates New York Criminal Lawyers are available to help you. Our New York Dog Bite Lawyers provide you with the best defense possible if your dog has bitten someone. If you are the victim of a vicious animal, or have been hurt in a car accident or medical malpractice accident, call us for help.

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