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Who pays your bills after a dog attacks you in New York?

Most dogs are friendly animals, making them popular as companion animals. Their positive reputation has had an influence on the law in New York, a fact that many people only realize after they get hurt by an aggressive dog.

Specifically, New York is one of many states where dog owners aren’t always responsible for the consequences the first time their dog bites a human. The so-called “one bite rule” presumes that dogs are well trained and amiable animals until evidence demonstrates otherwise. Owners don’t have to take extreme measures to train or restrain an animal that doesn’t have a history of aggression.

As the victim of a dog bite attack or the parent of a child injured by a dog, that rule may make you feel like you have no rights. Thankfully, there may be options for compensation still available to you depending on the circumstances.

Do you know for sure there’s no history of aggression?

The owner may have told you right after the attack that their dog has never hurt someone else before, but you should not just take their word for it. There could be official records of a previous dog bite attack by that animal or other circumstances that show the dog was dangerous.

For example, it may be that neighbors of the dog’s owner have had to deal with aggressive or frightening behavior from that animal in the past. It’s also possible that the owner tacitly acknowledged the risk their animal posed by posting “beware of dog” signs around the property, an action that implies they knew the animal posed a risk to people.

Owners are liable for the behavior of aggressive dogs

Once a dog has bitten someone or established a pattern of aggressive behavior, the New York courts then acknowledge that the animal may pose a risk, which means the owner has liability for injuries that the dog causes.

In some cases, an insurance claim may secure you the compensation you need for medical bills and lost wages. Other times, a civil lawsuit may be necessary. Talking about the attack with a lawyer can be a good starting point for exploring your rights after you suffer an injury caused by an aggressive dog.