Dog bites can cause serious harm, potentially triggering a Syracuse personal injury lawsuit. In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant owed him or her a legal duty, that this duty was breached, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that the defendant’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In a case involving a dog bite injury, however, the usual rules do not apply. Rather, under New York law, a dog’s owner will not be held to be “negligent,” even if his or her dog bites another person and causes serious personal injury.
Instead, the law of strict liability applies – but, only if the dog has either been previously adjudicated as a dangerous animal or if the victim can prove that the dog had a dangerous tendency to bite (and that the owner knew this.) If the owner is held strictly liable, he or she must pay both the human victim’s medical expenses and the veterinary costs if another animal was involved.
Facts of the Case
A recent case arising from the Supreme Court of Erie County, New York, involved an encounter between the plaintiff and her dog and two dogs owned by the defendants. According to the plaintiff, she was walking her dog when the defendants’ dog approached them. One of the defendants’ dogs only sniffed at the plaintiff’s dog, but the other dog allegedly came toward them at a full run and began biting the plaintiff’s dog. The plaintiff, in turn, lost her balance, fell over one of the dogs, and fractured her arm.