There are 4.7 million people a year bitten by dogs in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, 2019 statistics show there were only 17,802 insurance claims paid out for dog bites. So there is a large gap between the number of dogs biting people and the number of insurance payouts for dog bites.

What does the law say about dog bites in New York State?

Dog bites are covered by section 123 of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law. If you can prove the dog was dangerous, then the owner may be held liable.

There are three ways to prove a dog is dangerous:

  1. If the dog has previously made an “unjustified” attack on someone.
  2. If the dog has attacked another animal in the past two years, be it someone’s pet, guide dog or an animal on a farm, “without justification.”
  3. If the dog attacked you without having a “justification” to do so.

So the key to whether the dog’s owner can be held liable for it attacking you is whether the dog was “justified” in doing so.

There are three situations in which a dog attack may be considered justified:

  1. The dog was protecting itself or a member of its household, or it was reacting to pain or injury.
  2. You were attacking, threatening, or abusing the dog or a member of its household (or you had done so before).
  3. You were committing an offense or crime against the dog’s owner or their property.

Note that a dog’s household can include a variety of people and animals. Proving a dog is dangerous is not easy. If a dog bites you, you may need legal assistance to further your claim for compensation.