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Plaintiff Seeks to Declare Neighbors Dog Dangerous, NY Appellate Court Finds for Plaintiff


A man owned a Chesapeake Bay retriever. It attacked the daughter of his neighbor and caused serious injury to her. The father brought suit against the dog owner and asked the court to declare the Chesapeake Bay retriever a dangerous dog.

A New York Injury Lawyer said a dangerous dog is defined as one who has attacked a person or another animal without justification and has caused serious injury. Under the law, the owner who allows his dog to bite another person knowing that his dog has a propensity to bite shall pay restitution not exceeding $1,500 plus penalties and pay unreimbursed medical expenses, lost earnings and other damages resulting from the injury. The dog will also be put down. Further, the law mandated that the owner of the dog shall be strictly liable for medical costs resulting from injury caused by his dog.

The judge made an oral decision declaring the Chesapeake Bay retriever was a dangerous dog. He imposed the $1,500 civil penalty. The judge declared also that the owner was strictly liable for the unreimbursed medical expenses. The judge deferred ordering the euthanasia of the dog as it had already been sold.

The dog owner filed an action seeking the clarification of the judge’s decision. He asked for clarification on the concept of negligence and strict liability used by the judge in his oral decision.

The only issues presented here is whether the common law negligence applies here; whether the strict liability for unreimbursed medical expenses still have to be paid.

A Bronx Personal Injury Lawyer said the Court held that prior to the 2004 amendments of the Agriculture and Markets Law, a person who got bitten by a dangerous dog had to choose whether he would sue under the common law negligence or sue under the statutory “vicious propensity” theory.

The Court of Appeals has decided in a case that after the amendments, those bitten by a dangerous dog only have one recourse and that is to file suit under the statute. There is no more common law cause of action for negligence against the owner of a dog who bites another.

The Court also held that it will take this opportunity to explain exactly what the statute means when it used the terms “negligence,” “strict liability,” and “civil penalties.” This ruling will put to rest all questions regarding what kind of damages a person can ask for when he is bitten by a dangerous dog.

The Court held that the amendments in 2004 aimed to give the courts more control over dangerous dogs by making their owners accountable. It also aimed to increase the judge’s discretion in imposing penalties on the dog owner.

The Court held that under the statute as amended, a person bitten by a dog must first prove that the dog was a dangerous dog. A Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer said if the owner of the dog knew that the dog was dangerous, or, that the owner did not exercise his duty of care to make sure that his dog could not bite anyone. The Court held that the father of the child who got bitted by the dog here has met his burden when he introduced evidence that the attack by the dog on his daughter was unprovoked. He has succeeded in establishing the dog’s vicious propensity and the owner’s negligence. This proof entitled the father to the payment of damages in the amount of $1,500.

The Court also held that insofar as the award for payment of unreimbursed medical expenses, the dog owner had strict liability. That is, there is no need to present proof of negligence. The only thing the father had to prove was the injury to his daughter and the medical costs he has incurred.

The Court held that the amendments to the law granted jurisdiction to the courts to enter judgments for unlimited amounts of medical expenses arising from dangerous dog attacks. The Court further held that the duty to compensate for unreimbursed medical expenses is a continuing obligation.

The Court ordered the father to present evidence on the exact amount of medical expenses he has incurred in connection with the treatment of his daughter’s dog bite. If necessary, a damages hearing shall be scheduled.

At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, their New York Dog Bite Lawyers will assist you in presenting evidence that the attack upon you was unprovoked. Their New York City Dog Bite Lawyers will also help you present evidence of the injuries you sustained. Whether you have been injured in a car accident, because of a medical malpractice case or construction accident, we will advise you to keep all receipts for doctor’s fees, hospital fees and receipts for purchase of medicine. All these will constitute the amount of actual damages you are entitled to. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today and speak to any of their NYC Dog Bite Attorneys at any of their offices conveniently located around the New York area.

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