New York Dog Bite Laws

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The New York dog bite law combines the one-bite statutes with strict liability. For this reason, the owner of a dog is fully responsible for the dog’s action.

The statutes highlight that the owner should take care of the victim’s injury expenses. This includes medical costs and other damages. However, for the victim to earn compensation for damages resulting from the dog’s bite, he or she must prove that the dog in question has a tendency to attack people.

The victim also must prove that the dog owner is aware of this dangerous biting tendency. It’s important to understand that the New York dog bite laws do not advise the victim to demand compensation on the basis of negligence.

Medical Cost Liability from a “Dangerous” Dog Bite

Sections 121 of the Agriculture and Market Laws consider the dog owner as the primary custodian of the canine. Therefore, the owner is legally liable for all medical costs of the victim in respect to the injuries inflicted by the animal. The section describes the following elements:

  • The dog owner is the person who keeps the dog.
  • A “dangerous” dog refers to one that attacks or kills an individual or another animal without any justification.

The section, however, excludes dogs that help the police catch lawbreakers. You should also know that the victim’s conduct prior to the attack may form grounds for the exemptions of the dog owner from criminal charges.

One-Bite Law

According to the New York dog bite laws, the victim should only claim compensation for a dog bite if he or she can prove that a particular dog is responsible for the attack. In such a case, the following things must be considered:

  • Evidence of Viciousness: The state demands that the victim and his or her legal team prove that the dog in question is dangerous. Warning signs posted by the owner like “Beware of Fierce Dog” are not solid evidence to indicate that the owner of the dog is aware of the dog’s viciousness. In determining the viciousness of a given dog, the jury may look at the results of the dog’s attack. Evidence of prior attacks by the dog may act as concrete evidence of the dog’s viciousness.
  • Negligence by the Owner Doesn’t Form Sufficient Grounds for Conviction: Even though negligence can be taken as supportive evidence, it is not independent and conclusive evidence for one to claim compensation.
  • Damage Extent: According to the statutes, damages of about $300,000 are considered excessive if the offender is able to perform household duties after the attack. For this reason, the law obliges the jury to consider the extent of damage in deciding the compensation figure.

Penalties for Dog Bites in New York

The New York dog bite laws carry heavy penalties for the dog owner. If the owner is proven to have neglected his or her dog and the dog was initially declared “dangerous,” the owner can be convicted. The sentence can be for up to ninety days incarceration depending on the seriousness of the injury to the victim.

The dog owner can also pay up to $1,000 in fines. According to Section 121, serious dog injuries are those that cause death or very serious disfigurement. The statutes also clarify that in situations where a previously declared dangerous animal attacked and killed a person, the owner is liable to conviction for a misdemeanor.


The State of New York is very observant of its laws. All citizens with pets, especially dogs, need to understand that they are fully accountable for damages caused by the animal. In general, the New York dog bite laws are clear and easy for the citizens to follow. Accordingly, it’s important for all to know the various charges that relate to dog bites.