New York Personal Injury Law Blog » FAQ-Personal Injury, Personal Injury


July 30th, 2007

Every Dog Gets One Bite

A child suffered serious personal injuries when bitten on the face by a dog, and brought this New York action. But the plaintiff’s attempt at summary judgment was rejected. Why?

The old saying in the title comes from the concept of notice. As in, the owner of a dog that bites someone must have notice of a dog’s vicious propensities in order to make that bite actionable.

In Earl v. Piowaty decided last week by New York’s Appellate Division (3rd Dept.), the court returned to the time-honored principle that “the owner of a domestic animal who either knows or should have known of that animal’s vicious propensities will be held liable for the harm the animal causes as a result of those propensities.”

But, when the only evidence of a prior “viciousness” was a prior “nip” that the child described as “so minor that it did not break the skin or hurt me,” then summary judgment would not be granted. Normal canine behavior does not qualify.


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