Victims of dog bites are entitled to compensation where certain elements are met. In general, it must be proven that:
- the dog had “vicious propensities” and
- the dog owner, dog keeper, and/or the landlord knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious propensities.
The courts have defined vicious propensity as any act which might endanger another, and therefore even playful behavior may constitute vicious propensity. In proving vicious propensity, the animal’s history should be researched. The local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) generally has a database of all dogs and prior incidents, since police, healthcare facilities, ambulances, and local departments of health also maintain records of prior reported dog bites. The NYC Department of Health also maintains records of prior reported dog bites. The NYS Dangerous Dog Law requires a detailed database on adjudicated “dangerous dogs.”
We at Shapiro Law Offices, PLLC will also inquire into the following relevant issues:
- history of prior similar incidents
- breed and size of dog
- to what extent the dog was trained
- where and how the dog is normally kept, as well as the number of doors and gates that were secured
- history of barking, growling, and displaying its teeth
- whether a leash, chain, and/or muzzle is used
- dog’s disposition toward people
- displaying of “Beware of Dog” signs
- veterinary care and shots received
- leash law violations
Jason Shapiro, founder of Shapiro Law Offices, PLLC, devotes an entire section in his textbook -- The Lawyers’ Guide to Personal Injury Law -- to discussing dog bite accident cases.