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Dog Bites: Stay Out of the Dog House

Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year and half of these are children. Close to 1 million victims of dog bites require medical attention. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery in 2012 as a result of a dog bit. Children ages 5 to 9 are the most likely to be bitten. All dogs and all breeds have the potential to bite. So don't think that you are safe from a dog bite or a lawsuit due to your dog bitting someone because you have a small dog or friendly breed. You could be the victim of a dog bite and you need to know what you can do to protect yourself and what you can do in the event that you are bitten and injured.

While it may seem obvious, everyone should know that people who have dogs in their home are more likely to be the victims of dog bites. The chance of a dog bite increases dramatically if there are more than one dog in a as well. People with two (2) or more dog bites in their home are five (5) times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs.

If, however, you have been the victim of a dog bite what can you do about it ? The owner of a dog in New York who knows or has reason to know that their animal has a vicious disposition or vicious propensity is strictly liable for injury caused by the animal. What does "strictly liable" mean ? This means that even if a child harassed a dog prior to being bitten or injured, the child's behavior is not considered if the dog owner know or had reason to know that the dog had vicious propensities. This rule also applies to a person or entity that boards or keeps a dog or any other domestic animal for that matter.

Liability can also extend to landlords who know or have reason to know that a tenant keeps a dog of vicious propensity on the landlord's property. What does this mean ? Well, it means that a landlord that knows or has reason to know that someone who rents property from them keeps a vicious dog on the property and they do not take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from injuring someone, the landlord can be held liable for a person's injuries in a law suit.

How does an attorney show that a domestic animal has a vicious propensity ? If you have been bitten, obviously seek medical attention right away. When you are on the road to recovery, call us for a consultation and we will talk to you about the nature of the attack on you and the extent of your injuries. We will look at whether the animal has bitten or attacked other animals or people. If the bitting dog acted in an aggressive manner toward people in the past, this information can be used to show that the dog has vicious propensities too. However, a dog previously growling and barking at people is not sufficient to show that it has vicious propensities. I will also ask if you or anyone you know has seen evidence of the dog owner keeping the dog as a guard dog which can show that the owner knew his or her dog was vicious. We will also take a look at the way a dog is restrained because this information can be considered when looking at the issue of the owner's knowledge of the dog's vicious propensity.

Please keep in mind that many of the legal principles discussed in this blog apply to other domestic animals as well like horses, cats or any other pet. If you are injured by a wild animal that is kept by someone, however, there is no requirement to show that the owner had prior knowledge of a vicious propensity.

While I and everyone else at Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C. hope you are not injured by a dog bite, please feel free to call us for a free consultation about your case if this happens to you. We are experienced trial lawyers and we know about animal bite injuries and claims for personal injuries resulting from a dog or any other animal. We can be reached 24/7 at 1.800.900.6204 and we will schedule you for a free consultation when it is convenient for you. Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C., WE'LL FIGHT FOR YOU !.