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Who is liable when a dog bites your child?

New York has beautiful parks, ample sidewalks and myriad opportunities for your child to become the sudden victim of a dog bite attack. From animals running loose in the street to dogs off their leash in the park, it only takes a few seconds for something traumatic to happen.

Perhaps the dog in question jumped over a fence or was a resident in a home you were visiting. Whatever the situation, the dog's owner may be liable for the injuries your child sustained. In addition to seeking immediate medical care for your child, you should consult with an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

Dog bites can be expensive

It may be cold comfort, but your child is not alone. Children are the most common victims of dog bite attacks. Because they are shorter, injuries to the face and neck are not uncommon. Bites to the limbs, hands and feet are also common. Many times, the wounds will require emergency care, including stitches. Sometimes, bites can cause broken bones or nerve damage. In cases of facial or neck bites, your child may need plastic surgery to correct the scarring and physical damage caused by the bite. Your family shouldn't have to worry about medical bills when your child is recovering.

Speaking with an attorney means that you can explore ways to ensure payment of your child's medical bills, from hospital care to therapy for acquired fear of dogs or post traumatic stress. Depending on the circumstances, a homeowner's insurance policy may offer some financial coverage for a dog bite accident. In others, the owner is the only one personally responsible for their animal.

The law in New York protects dog bite victims

There are laws in place to help encourage responsible pet ownership in New York, including registration requirements and leash laws. Additionally, unless the dog was defending someone, the owner is typically liable for damages caused if one's dog bites someone. However, without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, it can be difficult to recover the expenses your family has incurred as a result of the dog bite attack. Insurers may be offering you low settlements that won't cover all your needs.

Attorneys can help you negotiate with the dog's owner or one's insurer. They can also help you file a civil lawsuit against the owner, their insurer or both. An attorney can also help ensure that the owner obeys the law requiring a post-bite observation period.

To ensure your child isn't required to get unnecessary rabies shots, the owner must observe the dog for ten days and immediately report any symptoms. Some owners may violate this requirement by destroying the dog or giving it away after an incident. An attorney can help make sure that other party follows the law, thus protecting your child. 

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