Visitor Question

Liability for my dog biting 8 year old boy?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Liverpool, New York)

My friend brought my dog to her boyfriend’s house and she tied the dog to a porch that was too close to the sidewalk. A boy ran by and my dog jumped up and bit him in the arm, requiring 5 stitches. The injury was worse because the boy pulled his arm. My dog let go and immediately peed.

I know this was not the boy’s fault but I also don’t think my dog is vicious. She’s almost 3 and I have a little sister who is 11. She has never been aggressive.

What are your thoughts on responsibility in this situation? What can I do? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

The liability of a dog owner for their dog biting someone varies from state to state.

Some states have “strict liability” laws for dog bites, meaning the owner is automatically liable for the actions of their dogs, even if the dog has never been previously aggressive or shown dangerous behaviors.

Some states have “one bite” laws, meaning that an owner is not liable for injuries caused by their dog their first time biting someone, but would be liable if it happened again.

The remaining states are somewhere in between the “strict liability” and “one bite” rules. New York falls in this category and is essentially a “mix” of these two rules.

New York has dog bite statutes (Article 7, Section 108 (24) and Section 123) that mix the one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability. Even if the dog has never bitten someone, if the injured person can show that the owner knew or should have known their dog was dangerous, then the owner will be held liable for injuries caused by the dog.

In your case, assuming your dog has never previously bitten or shown any aggressive propensities, then it would likely be difficult to show that you “knew or should have known” that your dog was dangerous. But this is very fact-specific, and doesn’t mean that the child’s parents won’t bring a cause of action against you.

Learn more here: Filing Lawsuits for Child Dog Attacks

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

Best of luck with your claim,

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