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I was bitten by a Rottwiler while riding the elevator of my building

New York, NY |

Yesterday I was riding the elevator of my building with a neighbor of mine who was dog sitting for a friend of hers, At the end of the ride, I turned towards the door and the dog abrubtly jumbed to my stomach biting me very quickly. She pulled him back, but he had already punctured my skin. I walked to the entrance of the building, to meet my wife, where I saw the dog try to jump on two passer bys. Afterwards, I went to my neighbors door and asked her to find from her friend his vaccination records. I also filed a dog bite report with 311 NYC health dept but I was told I need to give them the info for the owner which I did not have; I only told them the first name and address of my neighbor. I subsequently saw my doctor for a tetanus and he subscribed antibiotics. What should I do?

Attorney Answers 11


  1. Best answer

    You did the right thing reporting the incident and and seeking medical care. If you have scarring, you may have a claim against the dog owner and building if the dog has vicious propensities, meaning there are prior incidents of that dog biting, acting aggressively or causing injury.

    New York Plaintiff's Personal Injury Attorney Serving NYC, Long Island, Westchester and the surrounding areas. The information provided herein is not, and is not intended to be, legal advice. The content herein is for information and educational purposes only, and is based on the limited information provided. Any information provided is not intended to, and does not, create any attorney/client relationship where none exists. For legal advice, please consult with an attorney. While this posting is made for informational purposes only for the AVVO community, to the extent one seeks to contact me based on the content herein, or that this may be viewed by some to be attorney advertising, please be advised of the following: *Attorney Advertising


  2. Make a demand that the owner pay for your dog bite damages.


  3. If you have any ongoing medical issues, such as scarring, then you should contact a New York personal injury attorney. Many are listed on the Find a Lawyer section of this web site, and most initial consultations are free. I practice in Indiana, however Attorney Gennarelli has advised you that in New York the dog would need to have bitten someone else first. This could be investigated by a personal injury attorney if you have ongoing medical issues. Was happy to hear that you filed the bite report, and saw your doctor for a tetanus shot.

    Merry Fountain is licensed to practice law in Indiana. She can be contacted at 1-888-242-HURT. This is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney/client relationship. It is legal education intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. If the question does not include important timeframes and facts the answer could change. Merry Fountain strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state.


  4. As Mr. Gennarelli indicates, you may have a valid claim if you can prove the vicious propensities of the animal. Continue to get the medical care you need and consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

    Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change appropriately.


  5. See an attorney. If the dog exhibited prior evidence of vicious propensities , and your injuries warrant it, you may have a meritorious claim.

    This answer is not intended as legal advice, nor as a substitute for legal advice received from an attorney during a consultation. Your rights and obligations may vary depending upon facts not disclosed in your question. Therefore, you should contact an attorney immediately so that your interests are properly protected.


  6. Get the records and owner's name and report it. You can also call the ASPCA.


  7. If the elevator has surveillance ask the building to save it. In order to sue you need to show that the owner and/or building knew the dog had vicious propensities. If you have injuries worth pursuing your lawyer will want to have an investigator get sworn statements from people in the building about the dog.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


  8. While you mention she pulled him back, you don't say whether the dog was on a leash. If so, was she holding the leash before the attack? There are other ways than showing a prior dog bite to prove vicious propensity. I accomplished this once by noticing in photos of the scene that a couple of spindles were missing from the staircase. When pressed at the EBT, the owner testified that the dog had been tied up there regularly and that when the doorbell would ring the dog would bark, growl and strain at the tether. The dog was admittedly tied up for the safety of visitors and, thus, there was notice of the dog’s vicious propensity.

    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.


  9. Consult with a NY personal injury lawyer.


  10. Ask the doorman or management office for the person's name


  11. Making a report with the proper authorities is the proper start. You need to determine the name of the dog's owner. The fact that you know the address is a great start. It shouldn't take much to get the owner's name. An attorney should be able to obtain this information. You or your attorney may also need to engage an investigator to investigate the dog's history of prior bites or other "vicious propensities". The fact that the dog apparently lunged at others in your presence wouldn't establish PRIOR vicious propensities, but it might be a good indication of the dog's general disposition. Hopefully your bites heal quickly and without complications.

    Please note that it may be difficult to get a complete understanding of a legal matter based on a question submitted to AVVO. Responding to questions on AVVO does not establish an attorney/client relationship and should not be substituted for a more thorough discussion of the facts and circumstances of a particular matter, with an attorney.

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