Brooklyn Dog Bite Attorney
Dogs are beloved members of many families, but unfortunately, some dogs still present a risk to others. In one recent year, more than 800 dog bite claims filed in New York resulted in payouts totaling $49.1 million.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, not only will you be forced to deal with the pain of your injuries and a high chance of infection, but there will also be the stresses of dealing with the financial implications and changes to your day-to-day life. On top of all this, you might find yourself with a new fear of dogs or other emotional distress after the bite.
The team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP has helped Brooklyn dog bite victims secure the recovery they deserve. We work with each client to develop a case strategy based on their unique facts, circumstances, and goals. Contact our Brooklyn dog bite lawyers today for your free case evaluation.
Risks of Dog Bites in Brooklyn
When you think about a dog bite, you might picture the blood and torn skin caused by the dog’s sharp teeth. A puncture wound is certainly serious and can require stitches or lifelong disfigurement. Survivors may need plastic surgery after significant skin damage.
Dog bites also come with less visible risks in the form of infections. Up to 25 percent of dog bites become infected with bacteria after the bite occurs.
The following bacteria are the most likely to cause infections:
- Rabies: One of the most serious diseases caused by a dog bite is rabies. Not a bacterium, rabies is a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord and is fatal. Rabies is only prevented by vaccinating animals. In New York, between 5 percent and 6 percent of tested samples test positive for rabies.
- Capnocytophaga: This infection can cause heart attack, kidney failure, and gangrene. Some victims must have fingers, toes, or limbs amputated, and three in ten people with a severe infection die. Victims are likely to spot symptoms, including blisters, redness, swelling, pus, fever, and muscle or joint pain, within one to 14 days of the bite.
- Pasteurella: Animal bites are one of the most common causes of an infection called cellulitis, caused by the Pasteurella bacteria. Symptoms of the infection include swelling, redness, warmth, and discharge. This can also cause infection of the joints, bones, and tendons and respiratory complications such as pneumonia.
- Staphylococcal: Commonly called a staph infection, this bacterium is very dangerous for humans. Dogs are natural carriers of the bacteria in their saliva, and if it enters the human bloodstream, every organ is susceptible to infection. Symptoms include muscle aches and pains, swelling, fever and chills, and abscess or pus formation.
- Tetanus: Tetanus is a toxin produced by a bacterium, and when untreated it can cause respiratory failure and high blood pressure. If a victim suffers a deep bite wound, there is a risk of rigid paralysis. The risk of tetanus is significantly reduced if the victim is up to date on their tetanus vaccine. A timely tetanus shot can reduce the risk of tetanus.
In addition to the physical wounds of a dog bite, recipients are also at an increased risk of emotional trauma including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An estimated 51 percent of dog bite victims are children, who are even more prone to emotional distress. Not only are kids more likely to get bitten, but they are at higher risk of serious injury after a dog bite.
PTSD can be especially traumatic to children who are less capable of talking about their fears. PTSD at a young age has the potential to cause neurological damage. PTSD is also more likely to arise in children because of the size difference between a dog and child, creating a fear that the child will be overtaken by an animal.
PTSD victims can suffer a variety of symptoms including sleep disturbance, irritability, anxiety, depression, lowered performance at school or work, nightmares, and withdrawal. PTSD patients suffer different symptoms and have different triggers. One of the most common triggers is interactions with or exposure to a dog. PTSD triggered by proximity to dogs is especially debilitating because of the frequency in which dogs are present in our society.
Dog bites cost a lot of money to treat. New York has the highest average insurance cost for dog bites of any other state, with an average cost of $59,790 per claim.
Victims might find a fear of only the breed of dog that bit them. The dog breeds most likely to inflict a bite are bulldogs, pit bulls, German shepherds, Australian shepherds, Lhasa Apsos, Jack Russell terriers, cocker spaniels, and bull terriers. Dogs are more likely to bite when they are not spayed or neutered. It is important to note that particular breeds do not mean a dog is “dangerous”, lack of training or proper supervision often leads to dangerous situations for dogs and those they encounter.
Dog Owner Responsibilities in Brooklyn
Under New York law, the owner of any dangerous dog is strictly liable for certain damages. A dog is considered dangerous if it attacks and either injures or kills a person or pet/farm animal without justification or behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe the dog poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.
The owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for the medical expenses from the resulting injuries. Strict liability means there is no burden to demonstrate the owner acted negligently or failed to take action to restrain the dog. For other types of damages, the victim must demonstrate that the owner acted negligently such as failing to take reasonable actions to restrain the animal.
The dog owner might try to defend against liability by claiming:
- The dog was acting in the course of its duties as a law enforcement dog and is exempt from classification as a dangerous dog;
- The victim was trespassing or committing a crime and the dog was protecting the property;
- The dog was protecting itself, its owners, or its puppies at the time of the bite;
- The dog was experiencing pain or suffering and the bite was a reaction; or
- The bite victim provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog.
If the victim was an employee acting in the course of their duties at the time of the injury, another possible path for recovery is through workers’ compensation benefits. Employees likely to cross paths with dogs include deliverymen and mail carriers.
A lawyer will work with you to evaluate your case and determine which party is responsible for your injuries.
Preparing a Damages Demand After a Brooklyn Dog Bite
Once you have established which party is responsible for your injuries, you must compile a complete assessment of your injuries.
Common damages include:
- Medical expenses: The owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for medical expenses associated with your injuries, including doctors’ visits, costs of procedures such as plastic surgery, and prescription medication. Work with your lawyer to include an estimate of future medical expenses such as physical therapy.
- Emotional distress: The defendant is responsible for the emotional distress suffered after a dog bite. This includes tangible costs such as therapy and medication as well as more difficult to quantify injuries such as living life with a fear of dogs. Your lawyer will help you calculate an appropriate damage amount to compensate for your emotional distress.
- Loss of income: If your injuries force you to miss work or work a reduced schedule, the defendant is responsible for your lost wages. Future limitations can also be included in your damages demand.
- Pain and suffering: If your dog bite injury causes ongoing pain and suffering, work with your lawyer to put a monetary value on how this has affected your life.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries limit your ability to participate in activities that were previously a meaningful part of your life, you deserve to be compensated for this loss. For example, if you were previously a skilled musician but cannot play your instrument because of a hand injury, the defendant should pay for your loss.
If the dog was dangerous, the owner is strictly liable for medical expenses. To recover in other categories, your recovery will depend on the strength of the evidence of the dog owner’s negligence. If you can prove that the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages.
Your lawyer will work with you to prepare a damages demand that encompasses all your injuries. It might be necessary to involve financial or economic experts for more complicated damages such as future medical costs and future lost earning potential. The jury would consider your damages demand when awarding recovery at trial. It will also be an important tool when evaluating any settlement offers from the defendant or their homeowner’s insurance provider.
Next Steps After a Brooklyn Dog Bite
The first thing to do after a dog bite is to tend the wound. Deeper wounds will require emergency medical care.
Even if the injury does not present immediate medical concerns, seek medical care if:
- The injury becomes red, warm, swollen, or involves increasing pain;
- A fever develops;
- You notice pus or seepage; or
- The wound does not appear to be healing.
Once you have secured necessary medical attention, there are several additional steps you should take to ensure you secure the recovery you deserve:
- Report the dog bite: You must report an animal bite within 24 hours of the injury. Reporting a bite is essential in allowing the local government to track dangerous dogs, including those that might have rabies.
- Act quickly: While you might be overwhelmed with managing your injuries and dealing with emotional distress after a dog bite, you do need to prioritize legal action. New York law requires a dog bite victim to seek recovery within three years of the bite.
- Avoid social media: Do not post about the bite on social media without first discussing with your attorney what to watch out for. The defendant may attempt to use any public statement against you, either to prove that you contributed to the accident or that your injuries are not as serious as you allege.
- Stay organized: Be sure to keep track of all documents related to the accident, including insurance statements, medical records, documentation of work absences, and any other documentation to help support your case. Your lawyer can help you manage the overwhelming amount of paperwork involved.
Your lawyer will help you prepare a comprehensive case strategy that includes guidance for avoiding missteps that could compromise your case.
Brooklyn Dog Bite FAQs
There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the United States, which means it is hard to go about day-to-day life without regularly encountering a canine. Dogs are loved and valued members of many households, but some dogs present a risk to others causing serious injury from their bites. Dog bite victims are left to deal with physical, emotional, and financial trauma after suffering a dog bite, and it can be difficult to navigate the laws governing dogs and their owners.
Read on for answers to commonly asked questions after a dog bite, including who is responsible and how to secure recovery.
Yes, surprisingly common. Every day in the United States, approximately 1,000 individuals require emergency medical treatment after a dog bite. Dog bites cause more than 14,000 hospitalizations each year. Over 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog each year with one of five of the bite victims requiring medical attention.
Dogs continue to present a serious risk when not properly trained or monitored by their owners.
New York has its fair share of dog bite injuries. In 2019, there were more than 800 insurance claims for dog bites, with a total payout of $49.1 million. New York has the highest average insurance costs associated with dog bite claims. Costs of dog bite claims are on the rise across the United States, with a 134 percent increase between 2003 and 2019. These high costs reflect the fact that the average cost for a dog bite hospital stay is about 50 percent higher than hospital stays for other injuries.
Whether a dog bites will depend on the dog’s breed, personality, treatment by its owners, and the circumstances of the moment of the bite. Dogs are most likely to bite when they are reacting to a change in their environment.
Dogs are most likely to attack or bite when they are:
- Sick or injured
- Feeling threatened or scared
- Protecting any item they consider theirs or their family member’s
- Playing or overexcited
More than half of estimated dog bite victims are children. Bites may result from the loud and energetic actions of children, their lack of understanding of boundaries (including for dogs’ property such as food and toys), and the inability of children to understand a dog’s pain, anger, or stress cues.
While not all studies agree on which dog breeds are most likely to bite, several breeds come up repeatedly:
- Pit bulls, which some studies show are more than 20 percent of bites. The New York City Housing Authority bans them
- Chihuahuas, which are known for dominant, jealous, and aggressive tendencies
- Dachshunds, whose aggressive behavior is often overlooked by owners because of their small size
- Jack Russell terriers, which were bred to hunt foxes
- German Shepherds, which are high energy and suffer from separation anxiety
While breed can contribute to the propensity to bite, the most important factor is the level of training the dog has received.
The most visually obvious injury after a dog bite will be puncture wounds to the skin, but dog bites are often accompanied by less noticeable injuries, including nerve and muscle damage, broken bones, tetanus, scarring, and a variety of infections. Often the damage is so extensive that reconstruction is required, with more than 25,000 reconstructive procedures performed because of dog bites in just one year.
Dog bite victims should watch out for any sign of infection, including swelling or redness, ongoing pain, pus, limited mobility, and fever because more than 25 percent of dog bites become infected.
Common infections include:
- Rabies: The rabies virus affects the brain and spinal cord and is often fatal. If you are bitten by a dog who is not vaccinated, you are at risk for rabies. In New York, 5 percent of tested samples were positive for rabies in 2018 and 6 percent were positive in 2019.
- Capnocytophaga: This infection can cause heart attack, kidney failure, gangrene, and amputation of affected limbs.
- Pasteurella: Pasteurella bacteria can cause an infection called cellulitis with symptoms including swelling, redness, warmth, discharge, infection of the joints, and respiratory complications.
- Staphylococcal: Dogs carry this bacteria, which can cause staph infections. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, the organs are susceptible to infection and the victim might suffer from muscle aches and pains, swelling, fever and chills, and abscess formation.
- Tetanus: When untreated, this toxin causes respiratory failure, high blood pressure, or rigid paralysis. If the victim is up to date on their tetanus shot, the risk is significantly reduced.
After a dog bite, the victim should apply pressure to stop the bleeding, wash the wound with warm water and soap, apply antibacterial cream, and wrap the wound in a clean bandage. Seek additional medical care if the wound is deep, will not stop bleeding, or shows signs of infection.
Physical injuries are not the only consequence of a dog bite. Many dog bite victims suffer from emotional distress after the attack. Unfortunately, children are the most common dog bite victims and also the most susceptible to emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each PTSD victim suffers different symptoms and reacts to different triggers, but one of the most common triggers is exposure to dogs.
Under state law, the owner of a dangerous dog is strictly liable for resulting medical expenses. If a dog (a) injures or kills any person, farm animal, or pet; or (b) behaves in any way that would cause a reasonable person to believe it poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death, it is considered dangerous.
Once a dog is determined to be dangerous, the owner must:
- Get an evaluation by a certified applied behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist;
- Provide secure, humane confinement in a manner determined by the court;
- Restrain and muzzle the dog on a leash whenever on public premises;
- Maintain a liability insurance policy.
The law may require euthanasia or home confinement if a court finds one or more of these aggravating factors:
- The dog attacked a person causing serious physical injury or death without justification;
- The dog has a known vicious propensity evidenced by prior unjustified attacks resulting in serious physical injury or death; or
- Without justification, the dog caused serious physical injury or death to a companion animal, farm animal, or domestic animal and has caused unjustified physical injury to another animal in the past two years.
When a person is strictly liable, the victim is not required to provide any evidence of negligence on the part of the defendant. In New York, owners of dangerous dogs are strictly liable for medical expenses associated with injuries caused by the dog.
Strict liability does not apply to the following damages, which means the victim will need to demonstrate that the owner’s intentional or negligent acts caused or contributed to the dog bite:
- Emotional distress: If the victim suffered emotional distress, including PTSD, from the accident, a negligent dog owner is responsible. This includes costs of therapy, medication, and the toll the distress takes on the individual’s life.
- Loss of income: A negligent defendant is responsible for any lost wages, including future lost wages or reduced earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: If you are suffering from ongoing pain and suffering because of your dog bite, your lawyer can help include an appropriate amount of damages in your demand.
- Loss of enjoyment: Often dog bite injuries limit the victim’s ability to participate in activities that were previously an important part of their lives, such as playing a musical instrument or participating in a sport. If the defendant acted negligently, these damages may be recoverable.
Your lawyer will help you analyze whether the dog owner acted negligently, such as failing to follow leash laws, then prepare a comprehensive damages demand.
The defendant may attempt to avoid responsibility with any of the possible defenses:
- The dog was a law enforcement dog and acting in the course of its duties at the time of the bite;
- The victim was trespassing or committing a crime and the dog was protecting the property;
- At the time of the bite, the dog was protecting itself, its owners, or its puppies;
- The bite was a reaction to the dog’s pain or suffering; or
- The bite came from provocation, torment, abuse, or assault by the victim
Your lawyer will help you assess the strength of the defendant’s defenses to ensure you secure the recovery you deserve.
If you were bitten while acting the scope of your duties as an employee, your employer is responsible for your injuries. You will need to inform your employer of the bite and file a workers’ compensation claim. The employees most likely to get bit while working are those that enter private property or regularly come into contact with animals such as delivery workers or meter readers.
Your attorney will help you assess whether strict liability or workers’ compensation is the best path for recovery.
If the dog owner has a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, it is likely to cover dog bite liability. What is covered and the amount will depend on the owner’s individual policy. If your costs exceed the policy limit, you will need to pursue recovery directly from the defendant. Some insurance companies might refuse to cover certain breeds of dogs while others might assess recovery on a case-by-case basis.
An insurance company will probably attempt to settle the case. Your lawyer will work with you to assess any settlement offer against the strength of your case.
The concept of strict liability gives a false impression that recovery after a dog bite is simple. Unfortunately, strict liability only applies when a dog is found to be dangerous and only covers medical expenses. A lawyer will be an important partner to try to help ensure the dog is appropriately classified as dangerous and that you can recover your expenses beyond medical costs.
An experienced Brooklyn dog bite attorney will help you:
- Prepare a case strategy focused on achieving your goals and securing the recovery you deserve;
- Compiling evidence of the defendant’s negligence;
- Assess the ability to recover from each responsible party, including the dog owner, their insurance provider, and your employer;
- Communication with the defendant and insurance company;
- Evaluation of all your damages to prepare a comprehensive damages demand;
- Drafting all court documents; and
- Analyzing settlement offers.
At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, our team is committed to providing clients with legal representation, personal service, and clear and straightforward communication. To help ensure our clients get the representation they deserve, we provide each client with a dedicated legal team.
We believe that each victim deserves to have someone on their side that understands the issues and complications presented by their case. To accomplish this, our team dedicates their time and energy to help each client secure the recovery they deserve. We’ve demonstrated our skills and commitment through the tens of thousands of cases where we have secured recoveries for our clients.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a dog bite in or around Brooklyn, NY, contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today for your free case evaluation.
Contact a Brooklyn Dog Bite Attorney Today
The team at Jacoby & Meyers LLP is committed to providing our clients with personal service and legal representation. All while keeping communication clear and straightforward, allowing you to fully comprehend your case. We provide each client with a dedicated legal team so we can meet the unique needs of their case.
Jacoby & Meyers LLP clients have received free answers to their questions, free home or hospital visits, and online access to their case files through our website. We are confident in our ability to secure results for our clients. Additionally, we only charge the legal fees on a contingency fee basis. We have secured recovery for tens of thousands of cases. While we cannot guarantee any particular result, we are here to help.
If a dog bit you or a loved one in or around Brooklyn, NY, contact our firm today at 1-877-488-1707, open a live chat with one of our representatives, or fill out the firm on our contact page for your free case evaluation.
1711 Kings Highway
Brooklyn, NY 11229
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