If you or your child suffered a dog bite, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of the injury through a Bronx dog bite lawsuit.
A Bronx dog bite lawyer can explain your legal options to you during your free case evaluation. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today for more information.
We Have the Experience You Need
For nearly 50 years, the lawyers of Jacoby & Meyers LLP have committed our careers to representing victims of personal injuries in the Bronx and throughout the New York City metro area. Our mission in every case we take is to secure the maximum compensation available for our clients’ injuries and losses.
We have the size, know-how, and resources to handle any personal injury matter. Representing clients who have suffered injuries in dog bites constitutes an important, longstanding part of our practice. We understand the trauma a Bronx dog bite can inflict, and we have years of experience securing compensation for victims of dog attacks under the law.
Our Results Speak for Themselves
As an award-winning personal injury law firm in the Bronx and the other four boroughs, Jacoby & Meyers LLP can point to decades of success in achieving favorable financial outcomes for our clients.
In case after case, we have secured top-dollar settlements, judgments, and jury verdicts for victims of a wide variety of accidents and incidents, including those who have suffered traumatic injuries in dog attacks.
Our results do not guarantee future ones, but they do give our clients the confidence that they have lawyers on their side who know how to win in even the toughest cases.
About Dog Bites
One thing that most Americans agree on is that life is better with dogs. However, these furry companions have a dark side and it lives in their mouths. There are about 75 million dogs and approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the nation each year. Around 800,000 of those bites are serious enough to warrant medical attention.
To be clear, any dog will bite if put in the right (or wrong) circumstances.
The factors that increase the likelihood of a dog bite include:
- The dog is reacting to a stressful situation.
- The dog feels scared or threatened.
- The dog is trying to protect itself, its puppies, or its owners.
- The dog is not feeling well or it was startled.
- The dog is fighting with another dog and someone attempts to separate the animals. This is actually the most common reason for an adult to suffer a dog bite.
- The dog is nipping and biting because it is used to playing rough.
A quarter of all dog bites occur while the animal is chained, and most dog bites involve an animal who has not been spayed or neutered. The most likely victim of a dog bite is a boy between the ages of five and nine.
Does Breed Make a Dog Bite?
Contrary to popular belief, breed is not the only factor that determines whether a dog is vicious. More than 30 breeds of dogs are associated with serious dog bite-related fatalities. The key to ensuring that a dog does not become a biter, regardless of breed, is by properly socializing the dog to be around people and other animals from the time it is a puppy.
With that said, breeds that have the highest number of bite instances include:
- Pit bulls
- German shepherds
- Australian shepherds
Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
More than 80 percent of dog bites do not require medical attention. However, on the other end of the scale, individuals have been known to die due to injuries sustained in a dog attack.
Some of the injuries that commonly are associated with a dog bite include:
- Abrasions, which are damage to the skin that does not extend below the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis.
- Lacerations, which can be quite extensive and can require sutures to close the wound.
- Punctures, which are holes made in the skin from the dog’s teeth. Punctures push bacteria from the dog’s mouth deep into the wound, increasing the risk of infection.
- Crush injuries caused by a large dog knocking down or jumping on someone.
- Avulsion, which is the tearing away of a piece of skin by the bite. This type of injury generally results in significant scarring.
- Nerve damage resulting from the dog’s bite that results in a loss of sensation on the skin in that region of the body.
Infection: A Common Dog Bite Complication
One of the most common complications of a dog bite injury is infection. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of all dog bites get infected due to the amount of bacteria the animals carry in their mouths.
Some of the well-known infections that can occur after a dog bite include:
- Rabies: Approximately 50,000 people die each year in the world from rabies. However, the condition is uncommon in the U.S., due in part to individuals vaccinating their dogs against the infection. After a dog bite, you need to determine if it had received its annual rabies vaccination. Treatment for rabies in humans requires extensive medical monitoring. The observation period for a dog that has no proof of rabies vaccination results in impounding the animal for more than a week to watch for symptoms. The symptoms of rabies most often show up within the first few days after the bite, but can appear up to a year afterward. These symptoms include tingling around the site of the wound, confusion or aggression, muscle spasms, paralysis, difficulty speaking, and sensitivity to sounds or light.
- Tetanus: Tetanus infections are neither as common nor as dangerous as rabies, but can still create tremendous problems for the sufferer. Tetanus is often not caused by the bacteria in the dog’s mouth, but the bacteria on the skin of the sufferer that is pushed into an open wound. Tetanus is often referred to as lockjaw due to the stiffening of the jaw that can appear as one of the symptoms. Other symptoms of tetanus include muscle spasms in the stomach, painful muscle stiffness throughout the body, trouble swallowing, seizures, headache, fever and sweating, changes in the individual’s blood pressure or heart rate.
- Staph infection: Staphylococcus is a common type of bacteria that lives on the skin and in the noses of healthy humans. However, in a dog bite, the bite can force that bacteria deeper into the body, where it can create a potentially deadly infection that enters your bloodstream and the body’s vital organs. Staph can create symptoms that include skin irritation around the area of the wound, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, low blood pressure, a high fever, rash on the palms that resembles a sunburn, confusion, and muscle aches.
- Capnocytophaga: This type of bacteria lives in the mouths of healthy dogs and cats and rarely makes them sick. However, the bacteria can be transferred from the animal’s mouth to a bite wound and result in a potentially fatal blood infection known as sepsis. Signs of a capnocytophaga infection include blisters that form around the wound within hours of the bite; redness, swelling, and drainage of pus from the wound; fever; diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain; headache or confusion; muscle or joint pain. Most of these symptoms will appear within the first 3-5 days. However, capnocytophaga infections can occur up to two weeks after the injury.
What to Do If You Were Bitten by a Dog
If you have been bitten by a dog, the chances of the wound becoming infected are relatively high.
You can remove some of this risk through proper wound care, including:
- Washing the wound with warm tap water for five to ten minutes.
- Slowing the bleeding with a clean cloth.
- Applying over-the-counter antibiotic cream if it is available.
- Loosely wrapping the wound and contacting your doctor. Keep the wound loosely wrapped until you can get in to see your doctor.
- Changing the wound dressing once a day until your doctor has seen the wound and has provided further follow-up care or said that the wound is sufficiently healed to leave it uncovered.
- Watching for signs of infection, including increased pain, redness, or swelling around the wound.
New York’s Dog Bite Laws
When it comes to liability for a dog bite, most states follow either strict liability or the “one-bite rule.” Strict liability means that the dog’s owner is legally responsible for injuries caused by their dog regardless of whether they had reason to know that the dog was capable of being vicious. The one-bite rule means that the dog’s owner is only liable if he or she knew or had reason to know that the dog was capable of being vicious. The way that a dog owner usually knows this is because the dog has already behaved aggressively in the past.
New York actually follows a hybrid standard in which most cases follow the one-bite rule in which the claimant must prove that the dog owner knew or had reason to know that the dog was potentially dangerous. However, dog owners face strict liability for medical expenses arising from an attack by a dog already deemed dangerous due to past aggressive behavior toward people or other animals.
This means that the victim of the bite does not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent to obtain compensation for the cost of treating the injury, but will have to do so to obtain other types of damages, such as wage loss or physical pain and suffering.
A dog owner of an animal who has already been deemed dangerous and who fails to protect others from the bite can be liable for civil consequences such as liability for the expenses and impacts caused by the injury. In addition to the dog owner, a landlord can be held liable for a dog bite incurred by the pet of a renter if the landlord had knowledge not only of the dog on the premises but that the dog had the propensity to bite.
Filing a Claim After a Dog Bite
If you were bitten by a dog while on public property or legally on private property, you could seek compensation for your injuries through a Bronx dog bite lawsuit to prove who was liable (legally responsible) for the injury and to show the expenses and impacts that were incurred because of the injury. In most cases, you have three years from the date when the injury occurred to file your case.
The vast majority of dog bite claims are paid by the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. However, many insurers are seeking to limit their liability by refusing to provide coverage for certain dog breeds or by requiring the owner to file a waiver stating that he or she will be responsible for injuries resulting from a dog bite.
Liability claims to the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy after a dog bite cost insurers in the U.S. around $797 million each year. The national average for dog bite claims in the U.S. is more than $44,000, with medical costs and increases to the size, prevalence, and the judgments awarded by juries accounting for a more than 2 percent rise in claim amounts in recent years.
New York has the highest average amount for dog bite claims, at nearly $60,000 per claim. It is the fourth most common state in which individuals are bitten by dogs. However, there is no guarantee for recovery amount.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bronx Dog Bites
Dog bites can not only result in serious physical injuries, but can cause the victim to experience impacts due to emotional trauma as well. If you or your child have been bitten by a dog, you could pursue compensation for the expenses and the impacts of the injury through a Bronx dog bite lawsuit.
Read on for the answers to some of the questions our Bronx personal injury lawyer is most frequently asked.
What are the damages I can recover after a Bronx dog bite?
The term “damage” in the legal arena refers to a payment made in compensation for harm. New York allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages in dog bite cases. Economic damages refer to a payment made in compensation for out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the injury, while the term “non-economic damages” refers to a payment made in compensation for the negative impacts your injury has had on your quality of life.
Commonly included in dog bite damage claims are expenses and impacts such as:
- Medical expenses including the cost of emergency department treatment, diagnostic testing, physician services, prescription medication, and treatment of associated complications from the bite, such as infections.
- Wage loss resulting from being too injured to work.
- Loss of earning capacity if your injury results in a permanent disability that renders you unable to work or to earn in the same capacity as you did before the dog bite occurred.
- Physical pain and suffering associated with the injury as well as the treatment of it.
- Emotional distress.
Contact us at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today to discuss the damages you could pursue.
I do not know who the dog belongs to that bit me. What should I do?
All dog bites must be reported to the New York State Department of Health within 24 hours. You can do so by submitting the form online, which asks for specific information about the dog and the dog’s owner. Fill out as much information regarding the description of the dog as possible, including where the bite occurred, as the authorities can sometimes locate the dog or the owner by looking in the general area where the animal was found. You can also report a dog bite by simply calling your local police or animal control provider, as well.
Unfortunately, without information about the owner, you also have no information about the insurance resources that the owner has available or whether the dog had been vaccinated for rabies either. This can make it difficult to determine your course of treatment after the bite as well as to have someone to seek compensation from.
How does a dog receive a dangerous dog designation in the Bronx?
New York defines a dangerous dog as “any dog that without justification, attacks a person, companion animal, farm animal or domestic animal and causes physical injury or death, or behaves in a manner that a ‘reasonable person’ would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to one or more persons, companion animals, farm animals or domestic animals, or without justification attacks a service dog, guide dog or hearing dog and causes physical injury or death.”
If you were bitten by a dog that fits the definition above, you can request a hearing before a judge from the responding animal control or police officer. The animal control officer or police officer can also request a hearing about the dog before a judge. Once the judge has heard the facts of the case, he or she will determine whether to designate the dog as dangerous. If the animal is found to be dangerous, it will be removed from the custody of its owner until the owner satisfies the requirements for having the dog returned.
Those requirements often include:
- Having the dog spayed or neutered and microchipped, if it has not already had these procedures. This provides authorities not only with a way of tracking down the dog’s owner because of problems, but spaying and neutering also reduces some risks of the dog biting, as dogs who are spayed or neutered tend to have less aggression than intact animals do.
- Having the dog evaluated at the owner’s expense by a behavioral expert.
- Requiring secure and humane confinement of the animal.
- Requiring the dog to be leashed and muzzled whenever it has the opportunity to be around the public.
- Maintenance of a liability insurance policy with a policy limit of at least $100,000 to pay for expenses if the dog should attack someone else.
In certain circumstances, the judge can order that the dog be euthanized after an attack, such as if the dog caused serious injury or death to a person without justification.
If a dog is determined by the judge not to be dangerous, the claimant has 30 days to appeal this decision. It should be noted that, for the court to designate a dog as dangerous, the burden of proving that the dog is dangerous is on the individual filing the complaint. Often, accident victims are required to call witnesses to present the evidence necessary for the judge to make the dangerous dog designation.
My child was killed in a Bronx dog attack. Is there compensation available in my case?
If the dog owner had an insurance policy covering dog bite liability (most homeowner’s and renter’s policies do cover this, with exceptions), then you could pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Like a Bronx dog bite claim, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court that seeks to prove liability for an accident that resulted in death and to show the expenses and impacts of the death on family members. Some of the damages that can be recovered include the cost of funeral and burial expenses, as well as compensation for the emotional impacts you have incurred due to the loss.
I was teasing the dog when it bit me. Can I still recover damages for my Bronxdog bite injuries?
Teasing a dog is one of the actions that can cause a dog to bite. If you were bit by a dog after teasing it, you will likely be found to have been at least partially responsible for your injuries. You still may be able to file a claim against the dog’s owner. However, the amount of compensation you may be eligible to recover would be reduced by your percentage of responsibility.
What are the defenses to a Bronx dog bite claim?
It is not unusual for the owner of a dog, through his or her insurance representative or attorney, to assert that he or she is not liable for injuries caused by a dog bite.
Some of the common defenses that are used in these cases include:
- There was no negligence, because the dog owner did not know or have reason to know that his or her dog was capable of acting viciously.
- You were partially responsible for the attack, and cannot receive the full amount of compensation available.
- You were committing a crime or tormenting the dog at the time of the attack, meaning that liability was yours.
- The defense proves the dog in question did not cause your injuries or that you were exaggerating the seriousness of the injuries you experienced.
What is the average dog bite case in the Bronx, and is that how much I can expect from my settlement?
There is no average dog bite settlement or jury award amount. A damage claim in a Bronx dog bite case is as unique as the injury and the expenses and impacts that preceded it.
Several factors can affect how much you may receive, such as:
- How much insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance is the source of compensation in most Bronx dog bite cases. While you can file a lawsuit against an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment on your behalf, it may be very difficult to collect your award, as uninsured people often cannot afford to pay someone else’s medical expenses out-of-pocket.
- The clarity of liability. In Bronx dog bite cases, you can be partially responsible for becoming injured and still file a Bronx dog bite claim against other liable parties. However, the amount you could be eligible to receive would be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you bear.
- How patient you are. To be sure, settlement offers are not a given in dog bite cases. However, your attorney will negotiate on your behalf in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer for you. Often the fairest settlement offers—or closest to the value of the case—come shortly before litigation begins or even after it has begun but before a judgment.
Contact us at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today for more specific information about your legal options and the amount of compensation you could pursue.
The dog who bit me belongs to a friend of mine. How can I recover compensation without upsetting them?
It should not be upsetting to your friend for you to seek compensation from their insurance provider for injuries that were caused by their dog. There is, however, some peace of mind in knowing that the claim will likely be handled by their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. This can make the action you take feel a little less personal.
Do I need an attorney for my Bronx dog bite claim? It seems like it would be easy enough to file on my own.
If the bite was minor and did not result in a loss of wages or otherwise carry any serious financial or emotional impacts, you likely will not need an attorney to assist you in filing a claim. However, if your injury required medical treatment or you experienced complications that required medical treatment, missed work because of your injury, or suffered other severe emotional or financial consequences from the injury, an attorney can help you understand the legal process and can help you obtain the compensation you deserve after your injury.
Some of those services we provide include:
- A free, no-obligation consultation, which is time with an attorney when you can obtain answers to questions about your specific case and also explore the legal options that are available to you.
- Determining the value of your case, based on the expenses you have incurred, those you will likely incur in the future, and the impacts to your quality of life that were caused by the injury.
- Establishing the source of all liability in your case and the insurance resources that are available for compensation.
- Filing your Bronx dog bite claim in the proper jurisdiction, and attendance on your behalf at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Negotiation with the dog owner’s insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer for you.
- The collection of evidence and witness testimony to help prove your case.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer and information that can help you make other decisions involving your case.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing arguments, the examination of witnesses, and the presentation of evidence.
- Assistance collecting your award or settlement.
- A contingent-fee payment scheme that allows you to wait to pay for your lawyer’s attorney’s fees until after there has been a positive outcome to your case.
Let a Bronx dog bite lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers LLP help you understand the legal process of obtaining compensation after a dog bite. For a free case evaluation, fill out our contact form, begin a chat session with one of our representatives, or call (718) 294-0813.