Originally published August 2, 2021. Updated February 15, 2023
Dogs are man’s best friend, but they aren’t people. Despite training, they can act in unpredictable ways. Unfortunately, dog attacks and dog bites can be severe and cause disability, disfigurement, and even death from blood loss or infection. For many victims, a dog bite can require medical care and can continue to be traumatic long after the injury has healed.
If you live in New York and are the victim of a dog bite, it’s essential to know the regulations surrounding dog owner responsibility and liability when in public places. As New York is a very dog-friendly state, dog bites can occur in unexpected places, such as stores or restaurants.
New York Laws Regarding Dogs in Stores
It’s not unusual to see dogs in shopping carts or walking alongside their owners in a store, and not just service animals either. Many people consider their dogs “fur babies” and want to be with them as much as possible. While dogs being allowed in stores is at the store owner’s discretion, New York law prohibits dogs in stores off-leash.
According to New York law, dogs must be restrained by a leash no longer than six feet in public spaces. Although some public spaces have off-leash zones, stores are ALWAYS on-leash zones. If an unleashed dog escapes its owner and jumps on another shopper in a store and knocks them over, the shopper could get injured in the fall and both the dog owner and the store could be liable.
New York Laws Regarding Dogs in Restaurants
According to the New York State Department of Health, domesticated dogs are categorized as companion dogs, and these are not allowed in indoor dining areas or food preparation zones. They may, however, be permitted in a restaurant’s outdoor dining areas with the restaurant’s permission. This also requires the restaurant operators to comply with the restrictions stipulated in Section 1352-e of New York Public Health Law.
Service dogs trained to perform tasks for individuals with a disability may be allowed in the indoor dining areas of restaurants, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They may not, however, be allowed to sit or eat at the table.
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not legally protected in the same way that service dogs are, and restaurants in New York are not required to allow them into indoor dining areas.
Stores and restaurants may also be held liable if they are found to have contributed to negligent circumstances surrounding a dog bite injury. For example, if a restaurant has allowed a companion dog (a non-service dog) in an indoor dining area and that dog bites someone, the restaurant may be held jointly liable with the dog’s owner. If a store owner also owns a dog that bites someone within the store, then the owner is solely responsible.
New York State Dog Bite Liability and Negligence
According to New York State’s Dangerous Dog Law, a dangerous dog is one that a reasonable person can conclude poses an acute threat of impending injury. Section 121 of the New York code, which covers dog-related injuries, stipulates that the owner of such a dog is strictly liable for all medical costs originating from the injury, regardless of efforts made to control the dog.
New York State combines strict liability with negligence. This means that for any costs besides medical ones connected to the dog bite—such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, or lost wages—the dog’s owner is liable only if they failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog or didn’t warn others the dog could be dangerous.
Failing to control their dog constitutes negligence, but it’s contingent on the injury victim to prove negligent behavior. Negligence can be established if the victim can prove the dog is dangerous and that the owner knew—such as if the dog had bitten before.
Seek Support from a Trusted Law Firm
The team at Catalano Law has many years of experience assisting the victims of animal attacks caused by negligent owners, and we know just how stressful the aftereffects of such an attack can be. There may be physical, emotional, and financial ramifications that are felt long after the actual attack.
We can help you focus on your recovery by navigating the legal aspects of your case for you and ensuring your rights are protected.
Contact Us Today for a Free Case Evaluation
The experienced dog bite lawyers at Catalano Law can help you evaluate your case’s merits and decide whether you want to move forward with your claim. The dog owner is likely liable for negligence and may owe you more compensation than you realize. Contact Catalano Law for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your legal options.