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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?

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Attorney answers 11

Best Answer
Posted

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

Asker

Posted

Thank you for you answer. Do I solicit the info for the dog's owner or I let the NYC Dept investigate? I was told then need it within 10 days and I do not trust they will find it themselves, how could they, by knocking on my neighbor's door? Would it help calling the police? Also, I think this dog should be considered a dangerous dog and something should be done about it, maybe wear a muzzle since in the short time I experienced it, it tried to bite 3 more strangers, including my building's super

Gregory Scott Gennarelli

Gregory Scott Gennarelli

Posted

If you know the name of the dog owner, you can provide it to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and they will investigate and contact the owner to make sure the dog is up to date on its shots. They also may have records of prior complaints about the dog. It may well be a dangerous dog, especially if it tried to bite 3 other people. However, for you to have a viable claim, you would need to be able to show that there were other incidents or actions of the dog prior to your attack. You might want to check with the building or super as other tenants may have complained.

Asker

Posted

thank you again, but I do not know the owner's name. Do I try to get it from my neighbor who at this point has taken a defensive stance? or do I leave it up the the NYC Dept of Health to investigate? If I do not get it, will anyone follow up? and how will I get the vaccination records? In other words, isnt there a mechanism in place that will force them to comply without me having to knock on doors and solicit the info? thank you again for your help

Gregory Scott Gennarelli

Gregory Scott Gennarelli

Posted

You may want to a file a report with your local precinct. If you gave the Department of Health your neighbors name, they should contact her and she will likely reveal the name of the dog's owner to them. I had a very similar case a few years ago ( though it was a pitbull) where I sued the owner of the dog, the building and the dog walker who was in the elevator with the dog when the attach occurred. The friend is likely afraid of being sued and doesn't want to reveal anything. It is unlikely that you will be able to get the Veterinary records without a Court Order or subpoena, or through the discovery process if you decide to commence an action for any pain and suffering you may have. That said, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will look into the records to make sure the dog is up to date on its shots, and if not, require the owner to get the dog up to date. I would hope that whatever hospital you went to treated you as if the dog wasn't up to date.

Posted

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

Posted

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.

Posted

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.

Posted

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.

Posted

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

Posted

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.

Posted

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.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your input. Yes, the dog was on a leash and the dog sitter admitted that he was too strong for her and that she was actually told by the owner not to walk him but keep him in her apartment; he is a friends of hers that aparently gave her the dog because he is/was moving from apartment to apartment

Andrew Lawrence Weitz

Andrew Lawrence Weitz

Posted

how bad is your bite? the dog sitter admittedly was overmatched. she had a duty to keep the dog under control. the target of the lawsuit will be the owner of the dog, though the sitter will have to be named. hopefully the owner has a homeowner’s policy.

Posted

Consult with a NY personal injury lawyer.

Posted

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

Posted

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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