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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Who is Liable if A Service Dog Bites You?

Several years ago, it was a rarity to see a person with a service dog, but today support dogs are just about everywhere. They are in stores, restaurants, and even on airplanes. With the prevalence of these animals increasing, the rate of injuries incurred from dog bites is increasing, as well. New York has strict laws about dog bites, but do they apply to support animals? If a support dog bites someone, is the owner liable?

New York Laws on Dog Bites

The laws on dog bites in New York are covered in the New York Agriculture & Markets Code. According to these statutes, dog owners are liable when their pet bites someone if the animal has already been deemed a dangerous dog. A dangerous dog in the state is defined as an animal that has injured or killed someone in the past. A dog is considered dangerous if it behaves in such a way that another person feels the dog poses a serious and unjustified threat of injury or death.

When a dog has not been deemed dangerous, New York law follows the one-bite rule. Under this legal concept, owners are liable when their dog bites or attacks someone if the victim can prove that the owner knew of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. If the victim can prove that the dog owner should have known about the dangerous tendencies the dog displayed, then the victim can hold the owner liable.

Pets, service animals, and support animals are not all necessarily the same thing, however. So, do these laws apply to support animals?

New York Laws on Support Dogs

Before trying to determine if the owner of a support dog is liable for injuries resulting from a bite or attack, it is first important to differentiate service dogs from support dogs.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is one that is trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. In order to be deemed a service dog, the animal must be able to perform tasks the owner is unable to perform. Support animals on the other hand, are not necessarily working animals. They do provide their owners with emotional support and comfort, but they are not specifically trained to do any particular task.

This distinction is important. Under the law, restaurant owners, store owners, and anyone else dealing with the public cannot refuse a service animal entrance. They do not have the same obligation to support animals, meaning they can refuse to allow a support dog into their establishment.

Additionally, support dogs are treated like other dogs under New York’s dog bite statutes. Service dogs are not, and they enjoy more protection under the American with Disabilities Act. This means that if a service dog bites someone, the injured party may not have legal recourse. If a support dog bites someone, on the other hand, that injured individual can take legal action provided that he or she can prove the dog’s owner knew the dog was dangerous, the owner should have known the dog was dangerous, or the dog has already been deemed a dangerous dog.

Bitten by a Support Dog? Speak to a Long Island Dog Bite Lawyer

If you have been bitten by a support dog, it is important that you understand your legal options. At the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, we are the New York dog bite attorneys who can help determine what those are. Call us today at (866) 878-6774 to learn more about holding dog owners liable, and to find out if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. We offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose. Call us today or fill out our online form and we will start reviewing your case.

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