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One Bite Rule

Albany, NY |

I was bit by a dog in front of my very door at my apt complex. I was simply coming out and the owner's poodle came over and bit me. After furious words, I found out that the dog never bit anyone before. AND NO I NEVER PROVOKED the dog.. Can I sue the owner.. The bite is small and I only have a small mark on my leg.. These people always allow their dog out.. I did call the police and a blotter/incident report was made with the local police.. Am I able to sue for damages /punitive?

Dog was NOT on any kind of leash, just allowed to roam free as it goes to the bathroom where it feels like

Attorney Answers 8


  1. There is no such rule. To make the owner of a dog liable for a dog bite the victim of the bite has to prove that the dog had "vicious propensities." A prior bite is a good way to prove that but there are other ways.
    Any good personal injury attorney knows how to prove up a dog bite claim. Your problem may be that the bite is not a bad one so the damages may not be sufficient for a lawyer to want to take the case on your behalf.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.


  2. These are hard cases. In order to recover you must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner knew it. Indications of vicious propensity may include a prior biting or attacking incident, or evidence that the dog is known to growl, snap, or bare his teeth. Being off the leash is no longer a basis for recovery. There really isn't a one bite rule because vicousness can be prove based on the nature of the attack but if the dog just bit you I don't see proving it that way. It has worked in cases, for example, where a pit bull bit and locked on for minute and had to be beaten to get it to release.

    The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


  3. I would not take your case because the injury is so minor and I don't think punitive damages would be allowed.


  4. From what you say it seems like the damages are minimal and since the dog didn't had vicios propensities this doesn't seems like a viable claim.


  5. A tough road to hoe with the dog not having vicious propensities, but some vitamin E might help.


  6. Punitive damages, no. The bite is small and you only have a small mark on your leg. It is not neccesary to show that the dog actually bit anyone before, only that it had "vicious propensities", e.g., that it was likely to bite someone: it snarled, growled, snapped. Barking alone won't do it, but maybe barking in a threatening manner. But you have to have witnesses; other neighbors, superintendent, visitors, somebody. Does the owner have renter's insurance? This may be more effort than it is worth.


  7. It is my understanding that cases involving injuries inflicted by domestic animals may only proceed under strict liability based on owner's knowledge of animal's vicious propensities, not on theories of common-law negligence. [See: Morse v. Colombo 31 AD 3d 916 [3rd Dept. 2006] It is further my understanding that to recover in strict liability in tort for a dog bite or attack, a plaintiff must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner of the dog, or person in control of the premises where the dog was, knew or should have known of such propensities; “vicious propensities” include the propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation. Claps v. Animal Haven, Inc. et al. 34 AD 3d 715 [2nd Dept. 2006] I strongly suggest you get multiple attorneys opinions before deciding how to proceed.

    The information provided is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered. The information is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or current. I make no warranty, expressed or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of the information. You should not act or rely on any information at above without seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisement


  8. although insurance claims workers love to say that their clients dogs are entitled to one free
    bite, there is no such rule in new york

    consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process

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