Dog attacks represent some of the most gruesome personal injuries that are suffered, particularly where a child is involved (as is often the case). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. Almost one in five of those who are bitten (a total of 885,000) require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries. Children are especially at risk for dog attacks. It is important to teach children to be safe around dogs to prevent these catastrophic events from occurring.
To establish a case for injuries caused by any domestic animal (including dogs), a lawyer must prove both that the animal tended to be vicious (had vicious propensities) and that the owner knew of that tendency. If the animal tended to be vicious for such a period of time that any reasonable person would have realized it, it will be presumed that the owner was aware of that vicious tendency. Appel v. Charles Heinsohn, Inc., 59 N.Y.2d 741 (1983); Roupp v. Conrad, 287 A.D.2d 937 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001). Although, it is not necessary to show that the dog bit someone before, that kind of evidence would help to demonstrate the dog's vicious propensities. If a stray dog has done the biting and no owner can be identified, then no lawsuit can be brought. Additionally, in New York, municipal agencies cannot be held liable for failing to capture a stray dog, even when the presence of the stray dog has been reported on many occasions. Liability against a municipality is only possible if a municipal employee in some way acts negligently, such as causing the dog to be set loose or causing the dog to bite someone.