New York looks to enact stronger dog bite laws to protect victims

Last week, in discussing the horrible dog attack of a 6-year-old victim in the Bronx, we mentioned that there can be financial compensation following such a traumatic event. In New York, dog owners do maintain liability for keeping their dog from injuring a victim. However, there are some complicated laws that surround financially recovering following a dog bite.

At present, in order for a victim to successfully pursue compensation, there needs to be evidence that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog possesses a propensity for aggression and attack. In most instances, this is demonstrated by the dog previously biting a victim. Therefore, insurance companies for dog owners often cite the "one bite free" rule, meaning that an owner cannot know that a dog is aggressive until the dog bites someone.

In practice, this, unfortunately, means that dog owners are not held financially liable for a victim's injuries if it is the dog's first attack. For victims like 9-year-old Frankie Flora that are viciously mauled by a dog, and require extensive medical care and operations, there may not be a financial recovery if the attack was the dog's first bite.

Following this boy's horrific attack in Hopewell Junction, New York lawmakers felt that more needed to be done to allow similar victims to financially recover. State Senator Terry Gipson hopes to see a change to the notion of "one bite free." The senator has introduced Frankie's Bill, saying, "What we are proposing is Frankie Flora's law, which would hold dogs owners liable for the first time, and every time, that a dog bites someone. Someone like Frankie would have access to medical treatment that they need to help cure those injuries."

Frankie has undergone extensive surgeries and has received much assistance from generous donors throughout the mid-Hudson Valley. However, around the nation, there are about 4.4 million victims of dog attacks each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 800,000 of these injuries require medical attention, and half of those injuries are sustained by vulnerable children. Hopefully, this bill will become law, and more children will be able to financially recover to provide for their medical care following such horrific attacks in New York.

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