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Understanding New York State’s “One Bite” Rule


In New York State, we follow what’s known as the “One Bite” Law. The “One Bite” Law states that an owner is only liable for their animal’s injurious actions if the dog or animal, to the owner’s knowledge, has shown prior vicious propensity in the past. Some view this as a free pass while others believe it is a fair law.

When Owners May Be Held Liable

In essentially all scenarios, there must be proof that the owner knew their animal’s prior behavior could lead to an attack. Here are some reasons a court may hold the owner liable:

  • If The Animal Has Bitten Before – This pertains to the “One Bite” Law – proof that the owner was aware that their dog or animal has bitten before
  • If The Animal Displayed Prior Vicious, Frightening Behavior – For example, there must be proof that the dog often barks viciously behind a backyard gate as if it’s willing to attack, or chases others to the point where they are frightened
  • If The Animal Often Jumps On People – If the owner knows that the animal often jumps on others, it’s their responsibility to prevent their dog or animal from knocking others over (crucial if a plaintiff’s injuries were due to an animal knocking them over)
  • If The Animal Has Been Trained To Fight – A court will likely hold the owner responsible if the animal has been trained by the owner to fight since the owner fully knows their dog or animal is dangerous and can be violent
  • If There Are Prior Complaints – If neighbors have reported complaints about the dog or animal’s vicious behavior, especially if it has bitten before or tends to be violent

An experienced Dog Bite Attorney or Animal Attack Attorney will be able to prove liability and get their client the maximum compensation they deserve.

When Owners May Not Be Held Liable

There are instances when owners aren’t held liable, including but not limited to these circumstances:

  • If The Dog Has Never Bitten Before (To Owner’s Knowledge) – The “One Bite” Law states that if the owner has no knowledge whatsoever that the dog has bitten before, they are not liable
  • If The Plaintiff Was Trespassing – If the plaintiff was on the owner’s property without their consent, even if the dog has bitten before, the owner may not be held liable
  • If The Plaintiff Provoked The Attack – If the plaintiff’s behavior legitimately provoked the animal into attacking (ie. an attempt to assault the animal or its owner)

An experienced Dog Bite Attorney or Animal Attack Attorney is essential in fighting these defenses.

Long Island Dog Bite Lawyer

Each day about one thousand people in the United States require emergency room treatment as a result of dog bites. There are many reasons a dog may lash out and bite a person. It may be a reaction to a stressful situation. The dog may be scared or feel threatened. They may be very possessive in nature. No matter what the reason, if you are bitten and injured by another person’s dog, you may have a claim against the dog owner.

However, New York has one of the most lenient dog bite laws in the country. In order for a dog owner to be responsible for injuries caused by their dog, it must be proven that the dog had exhibited prior vicious propensities. If prior vicious propensities cannot be established then there is no liability on the dog owner’s part. There are many ways to establish prior vicious propensities and an experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to investigate the issue. Palermo Law is a Long Island Personal Injury Law Firm dedicated to representing individuals that have suffered serious dog bites as a result of a negligent dog owner.

When to consult with a Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer

Not all accidents require the assistance of an accident attorney. But if you have been injured by a dog, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney before discussing your case with the representative from the property owner. Often, a personal injury attorney can protect your legal rights, recoup compensation for lost wages and medical bills and obtain a settlement for your pain and suffering.

How much is my dog bite case worth?

The value of an injury suffered in a dog bite is an accumulation of several different factors. These include any accident-related economic expenses such as lost wages, as well as non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. At Palermo Law, our experience in handling thousands of accident cases allows us to accurately assess the value of your case to determine the fairest settlement or jury award. In cases of long-term injuries, we partner with experts in the fields of medicine and economics to make sure that your compensation is adjusted for future inflation. This allows you peace of mind knowing that you will be compensated for years to come.

We can also arrange an in-home or hospital consultation with you. Further, we handle all Long Island dog bite cases on a contingency basis meaning we never charge a fee unless we win your case.

Reach out to the Long Island Dog Bite Lawyers at Palermo Law, P.L.L.C to discuss your injury and get started. You may be entitled to compensation.