Last June, seven-year-old Tatiana Quinones was getting out of an elevator in a Harlem building when a pit bull attacked her. She was taken to the hospital where she received stitches on her arm and treatment for scratches on her neck. One witness said the dog that bit Tatiana was lunging for her ice cream and did not intend to bite her. Neighbors said the pit bull had always been well-trained and well-behaved before the incident.
Is the owner liable for Tatiana’s injuries? Yes and perhaps no. In order to prove that the dog owner responsible for the unprovoked attack, the victim has to prove that the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous.
Even if the dog that bit Tatiana had never attacked anyone before, in order to recover additional damages, her lawyer will have to prove one of the following:
It was a “dangerous dog” before this attack. According to the Agriculture & Markets Law, a dangerous dog attacks without provocation or justification or behaves in a threatening and vicious manner. This can be proved by a previous bite, a history of growling, snapping or baring its teeth, needing to be securely restrained or fenced in, or simply being a certain breed.
The owner was negligent. Negligence can be shown by failing to properly handle the animal or by violation of a city or county law or ordinance. Not being on a leash constitutes such a violation, or as in Tatiana’s case, the owner of the dog having been charged with violation of an ordinance prohibiting pit bulls in New York City Housing Authority buildings may suffice. If the landlord was aware of the violation and knew of the animal’s dangerous propensities, he could be liable as well.
Under certain circumstances, an owner or handler may also face criminal charges, including fines and jail time — in Tatiana’s case, the handler was charged was reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Dog bites may cause significant pain and trauma and cause the injured party to incur large medical and hospital bills. If you or a loved one has been injured, you need a lawyer with expertise in this area in order to secure the maximum recovery for pain and suffering and any unpaid hospital or medical bills. We have a strong record of success with these cases. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.
Posted in Personal Injury
Tagged damages, dog bites, New York personal injury attorneys, owner liability, owner responsibility