A ten-year-old girl is recovering in an Amherst hospital after she was mauled by a vicious pit bull outside her apartment.
Police are uncertain why the dog rushed to attack the girl while she was on Harlem Road; the animal is being held pending a hearing to determine if it is a dangerous dog. According to her family, the girl, whose name was not released, required emergency scalpel surgery and has been receiving ongoing treatment for her injuries.
The victim’s mother and dog owner both refused comment.
Dog Bites by the Numbers
42 people were killed by dog bites in 2014. Pit bulls accounted for about two-thirds of these attacks, despite the fact that they comprise fewer than 6 percent of dogs nationwide. Moreover, over the past decade, a pit bull has killed one person every 18 days. That number is far larger than any other breed, including rottweilers and other mastiff breed security/attack animals. Children under 8 and adults over 65 are the most likely victims.
To defend these claims, insurance companies nearly always argue that the victim somehow provoked the dog.
Dog Bite Liability
New York uses a modified one-bite rule that makes owners strictly liable for medical expenses if a judge previously determined that the animal was “dangerous.” Victims may be entitled to additional recovery, if they can prove that the dog had dangerous propensities and the owner knew, or should have known, about this tendency. Compelling circumstantial evidence of danger may include:
- Snapping teeth or growling,
- Loud barking, and
- A previous attack.
Absent other circumstantial evidence, a “beware of dog” sign or the fact that the dog is an attack animal are generally not sufficient to prove negligence.
Another tactic is to sue for ordinary negligence. Most cities have leash laws that require owners to exercise direct control over their animals at all times, sometimes even if they are in a fenced-in yard. Violation of such an ordinance may be considered negligence per se, similar to running a stop sign or changing lanes without signaling.
Dog bites frequently cause serious, lifelong injuries. For a free consultation with attorneys who stand up for victims, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a personal injury case.