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In New York, the law differentiates between bites committed by “dangerous dogs” and bites committed by other dogs. Dangerous dogs are dogs that:

  • Attack and injure or kill a person, a companion animal or a farm animal; or
  • Behave in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a threat of injury or death to people, companion animals, or farm animals.

Owners of dangerous dogs are held to certain strict standards for their dogs’ conduct. If a dangerous dog bites a human victim, the dog’s owner is liable for medical damages caused by the dog’s bite. In contrast, an owner of non-dangerous dogs is only liable for the victim’s damages if the victim can prove that the owner’s negligence caused the bite to occur. Dog bites can be a complicated issue, and whether the dog in question is legally deemed dangerous or not can complicate a bite case further.

An Owner of a Dangerous Dog Can Face Criminal Penalties

A dangerous dog statute is different from a statute of civil penalties because if a dangerous dog bites and injures or kills a victim, the dog’s owner may face criminal penalties. In New York, a dog’s owner can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if his or her dangerous dog escapes or otherwise reaches and kills a human victim. In addition to the civil penalties for this offense, the owner can face up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If a dangerous dog’s owner negligently allows the dog to bite a victim and the victim suffers a serious injury, he or she can be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor, which can land him or her in jail for up to 90 days and face a $1,000 fine. Serious injuries are defined as injuries where the victim dies or could have died or suffered the loss or impairment of a body part or organ.

A dangerous dog can face penalties too, such as a requirement that the dog is leashed and muzzled at all times when in public, that the dog is confined to the owner’s property, or in serious cases, that the dog is euthanized.

Work with a New York Dog Bite Lawyer

If your dog bites a victim, you can potentially be held liable for the victim’s damages. If your dog has previously bitten a victim or otherwise behaved in a way that has caused it to be deemed “dangerous,” you can potentially face criminal penalties in addition to your liability for the victim’s damages. Defend yourself and your dog by working with an experienced New York dog bite lawyer. To learn more about your rights as the owner of a dangerous dog, contact our team of experienced lawyers at Peters Berger Koshel & Goldberg, P.C. today to set up your free legal consultation in our Brooklyn office. Our team understands all aspects of New York dog bite law and how they can affect your case.