Proposed law would hold dog owners accountable

Dog may be man's best friend but that does not prevent a dog from attacking a person, even including its owner at times. According to the New York Department of Health, there is an average of 6,600 dog bites in the state of New York every year that require medical treatment. Of those, more than 200 injuries are serious enough to require the victim to be hospitalized.

"First Bite" law proposed

A proposed law in New York would ensure that dog bite victims can be compensated for medical costs after any dog bite. The current law only requires that dog owners be warned if a bite was a first offense. The new law would hold dog owners strictly liable for any reported dog attack injury. The bill is known as Frankie's Bill after a child that was severely injured as a result of a pit bull attack in 2009.

In addition to paying for any medical costs, if a dog owner is deemed to have been negligent in some way and that negligence led to or allowed the dog to bite someone, fines may be imposed upon them.

A pit bull attack of a young girl in New York earlier this year saw the dog owner receive summons for not having the dog on a leash. An article with video footage of the attack did not indicate if the girl or her family received any compensation for her medical costs.

Dog bite injuries and fatalities

A total of 31 fatalities from dog bite injuries occurred nationwide in 2011. The most common injuries resulting from dog bites include puncture wounds, lacerations, infections, contusions, fractures and dislocations and amputations. Additionally, of all reported dog bites:

  • Approximately 45 percent occur on the hand or arm.
  • Roughly 25 percent occur on the leg or foot.
  • Almost 23 percent occur in the head and neck region.

For victims under the age of five, the head and neck area is the most common location for bites. The percentage decreases as children get older and taller, making their heads and necks less accessible to dogs in an attack situation. By the age of 15, the extremities are the most commonly bitten areas.

Reporting matters

All dog bites should be reported regardless of the severity. What may seem like a minor bite initially could lead to a serious infection if not treated. In addition to filing proper reports, it is advisable to consult with an attorney if you or a family member has been injured in a dog attack.

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