First, is the injury severe enough to warrant suing the friend? Second, if you do sue the friend you will have to prove that the friend has notice that his dog had vicious propensities. Speak with a local personal injury lawyer if you want to proceed.
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Yes, you can pursue a personal injury claim on your son's bhalf if you are his legal guardian. Our office handles dog bite cases, and the fact patterns can differ greatly from case to case. You would need to provide me more information for me to actually give legal advice on your son's case. Important issues in these cases include: proof the dog inflicted the bite, where the incident took place, does the dog have a history of biting, whether or not the dog owner is aware of the dog's prior history of bites and the severity of the injury. I hope your son is OK.
I'm sorry for your son's injury. Dog bite cases in New York can be difficult. A plaintiff will first have to demonstrate that the bite occurred, obviously, and that the owner knew or had reason to know of the animal's vicious propensities. There is more than one way to prove notice of a vicious propensity, but there is disagreement among the courts of the State of New York as to what actually constitutes notice. The Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) gives a little guidance in a 2004 case called Collier, and there is even room in that opinion for the consideration of factors not enumerated, such as the severity of the attack or the assumed vicious propensities of the breed, but it is still an issue that needs to be handled by someone with experience in dog bite cases.
As for bringing the case, as legal guardian you are the proper party to bring the case on behalf of your son.
I am a co-author of WEITZ ON AUTOMOBILE LITIGATION: THE NO FAULT HANDBOOK. The opinions expressed in this answer are not intended to be taken as legal advice. These opinions are based on New York practice. I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.
Before you consider the legalities of bringing suit on your son's behalf (sounds like he is an adult), you should consider whether it's worth the trouble suing. Is the dog of a breed like a pit bull or doberman pinscher or is it known to be vicious dog? How serious was the dog bite? Does your friend have a home insurance policy or renter's policy? Lots of issues, don't do it yourself; seek a local personal injury attorney for a free consultation.
Yes, sue the owner of the animal.
Dean P. Murray
Attorney at Law (admitted to practice in NY and NJ)
The Murray Law Firm
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Hoboken, NJ 07030-6151
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If it can be shown that the dog was known to have vicious propensity, then your son can collect. You do not mention the extent of his injury. Consult a personal injury attorney.
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The general rule of law is that in order to prevail,in a dog bite case you must prove that the owner of the dog had knowledge of the tendency or history of exhibiting aggressive behavior that includes biting. As each case is very fact specific, the leading cases tend to make establishing liability against the owner more difficult. However, a mitigating factor here may be the basis of your son's handicap. For example, if the owner was present and knew of your son's condition, a higher duty of care might be charged to the owner is your son interacted with the dog and o account of his condition would not appreciate the consequences of his actions. You should consult with an attorney with a history of successfully prosecuting dog bite cases.
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