August 16, 2023
What to Do if Your Child Is Bitten by a Dog in New York
By Jonathan Damashek
Dog bites cause significant injuries. Even a minor nip could result in severe infection because of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth. When your child is bitten, they should get medical treatment immediately and you should know how to take legal action.
What Are New York’s Dog Bite Laws?
In New York, a dog owner is responsible for injuries caused by their animals. That includes dog bites and attacks, such as when a dog knocks a child to the ground.
The dog’s owner must pay for your child’s medical bills. However, there may be circumstances in which you can get additional compensation above and beyond medical costs. Owner liability for damages is complex.
Dog Owner Liability
There are two situations in which a dog owner would be held liable for injuries:
- The dog owner was negligent in controlling the animal.
- The dog owner knew or should have known their animal was dangerous.
Dog Owner Negligence
If the dog owner was negligent or failed to abide by a law, they may be held responsible for your child’s damages. In New York, dog owners must keep their pets restrained. This is called a “leash law.” If they are negligent and breach that duty, and their dog causes your child injuries, you can recover damages.
What Is a Dangerous Dog?
If the dog has a history of acting viciously and it harms a child, the owner is strictly liable for any losses that occur. Strict liability means that the owner is responsible no matter what other factors were present – even if the child was trying to play with the dog.
A “dangerous dog” is one that has in the past:
- Attacked and injured or killed a person or domestic animal without justification
- Behaved in a way that would make a reasonable person believe the dog poses a “serious and unjustified” risk of injury or death
Your dog bite lawyer will carefully investigate the animal’s past to determine if it is considered a “dangerous dog” under New York laws.
Personal Injury Claims Involving Children
When a child is injured by a dog, they may bring a personal injury claim against the owner of the animal. However, the child cannot sue an adult themselves. They must wait until they are 18, or their parents can file a lawsuit on their behalf.
Statute of Limitations for a Child Dog Bite Case
In New York, most personal injury cases require that a lawsuit be filed within three years of the incident. However, when a child is injured, the time does not start until they turn 18. A child’s parents can file a lawsuit on their behalf up to three years after the bite, or a child can wait until up to three years after their 18th birthday.
Possible Damages for Child Dog Bite Victims
If a child is bitten by a dog, they can get their medical bills paid by the animal owner. In many cases, the dog owner’s home insurance will cover the claim. However, if the dog was considered dangerous, you can also get additional damages, including:
- Future medical costs
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Home services
- Medical equipment
What to Do after a Dog Bite in New York
You could take certain steps after a dog bite to ensure your child is safe and protect their ability to recover damages.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The first thing you should do if a dog bites your child is get medical treatment immediately. Dog bites are always severe, even if they don’t appear to be. Dogs have dangerous bacteria in their mouths that can cause infection, even from a minor scrape.
Document Your Child’s Injuries
You should document your child’s injuries as well as how they impact your child’s life and your own. Keep a post-accident journal that describes the healing process, pain experienced by your child, and other details. This information will be used to obtain non-economic damages for pain and suffering from the insurance company.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer
You should also contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. You will need to investigate whether the dog had bitten anyone before or acted viciously in the past. Your attorney can also obtain the dog’s shot record and talk to witnesses who may have been at the scene. It’s always stressful when your child is injured. You shouldn’t have to deal with it alone.