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Offices Located At:
326 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 205
Huntington Station, NY 11746

Mailing Address:
PO Box 575
Northport, NY 11768

Phone & Fax:
Office:631.262.7400
Fax:631.262.7422
Toll Free: 1.800.437.8833 

DOG BITES

It is often said that a man's, and in that case, a woman's best friend is a dog.  However, what happens when man's best friend turns on you, causing you serious personal injuries?  To recover for injuries inflicted by a dog bite, you must prove that the dog who attacked you had a prior vicious propensity.  This is normally proved by the testimony of witnesses who can recount earlier instances in which the dog attacked another without provocation.  Dangerous dogs frequently attack small children who cannot defend themselves, the elderly and delivery people, such as postal, UPS and Federal Express delivery persons.  Although a subset of personal injury cases, dog bite cases have their own special statutes and case law unique to it.  Therefore, whatever attorney you retain must be experienced in litigating in this arena as we are.  Most recently, our firm obtained a $1,200,000.00 judgment in Suffolk Supreme Court in a dog bite case.  

Because Supreme Court cases can be lengthy, dog bite cases allow us to be creative in where we first commence the action.   Under New York’s Agricultural & Markets Law, we can commence a Dangerous Dog hearing in District Court.  The purpose of this hearing is to establish whether or not the dog is vicious and, if so, what remedies should be fashioned to prevent such attacks from taking place in the future and whether its owner was negligent.  Because trials in District Court are expedited, you can present your entire testimony of witnesses with very little time and expense in a matter of days, versus the two to three years to get a case to trial in Supreme Court.  The Agricultural & Markets Law requires that a hearing be held in five (5) days of a dangerous dog complaint having been filed with the court.  At that point, the District Court judge has the discretion to order that the dog be seized and confined.  Within a relatively short time, there will be a finding in District Court as to whether or not the dog in question had a prior vicious propensity and, if requested, a finding of whether the dog’s owner was negligent. Moreover, a finding that an unprovoked dog attack caused you serious physical injury will also result in the dog's owners being strictly liable for your unpaid medical expenses.

This lower court judgment can then be sued upon in Supreme Court for an action for money damages; liability having already been determined by the District Court.  The District Court's findings of liability and viciousness is given res judicata effect, meaning that the Supreme Court must accept the lower court's findings as the law of the case.  This means that with a determination from the District Court that the dog was vicious and its owners negligent, you would then proceed in Supreme Court with a case for damages only.  Most insurance carriers (homeowners and renters insurance) settle damage only cases with very little fanfare.  Not only do we have extensive experience in the field of dangerous dogs, but Dan Engstrand has lectured in this area before the Suffolk Academy of Law and has participated in a mock trial demonstration of an actual dog bite case before one the Alexander Hamilton American Inns of Court at Touro Law School.