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All Press Releases for May 01, 2013 »
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Proposed changes for how New York treats dogs that bite

A proposed revision to the current law would change the way that New York determines liability for owners of dogs that bite.
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    May 01, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A recently proposed legislative bill would change the way that the State of New York views dogs that bite. State Senator Terry Gipson (D-Rhinebeck) introduced a bill in early April 2013 named for young Frankie Flora, a child from Hopewell Junction who was bitten and seriously injured by a dog several years ago.

Gipson and other supporters of the proposal want to amend the current law that only allows a dog bite victim to recover damages if the animal has previously either bitten someone, been show to have "vicious propensities" or been labeled as "dangerous." Current New York law (Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 108) defines a dangerous dog as one that, "without justification, attacks" a person or leads a person to believe that there is an "imminent threat" of attack.

Proponents of the law want to ensure that dog owners are held financially responsible for every attack, not just the ones preceded by a bite or incident that would indicate that the dog has "vicious propensities." The new statute proposed by Gipson would force dog owners to face financial ramifications the first time - and every subsequent time - their animals inflict injury.

Why the change?

The "Frankie Flora law" would make it easier for those injured - statistically more likely to be either children or the elderly - to recover compensation to help defray the costs of necessary treatment to repair the damage done by a dog bite, even when that dog hasn't previously bitten anyone in the past or behaved as a "dangerous dog" would. The state's current law makes it difficult for someone to file a claim against a dog owner if the dog has no prior history of violent or aggressive behavior.

Frankie's case proves that a dog doesn't need to be labeled as dangerous in the past to do serious harm, and Gipson's proposed amendment would make the law recognize that distinction. When Frankie was attacked four years ago, he was the animal's first victim, but he still received in excess of 100 deep lacerations to his head and arms, and has undergone dozens of surgeries to repair damage and restore his appearance.

Since the Flora family didn't have private health insurance at the time of the attack, Medicaid has covered the bulk of his medical care, but not all of it. Donations from good Samaritans have funded many procedures that were considered "cosmetic" and thus not funded by Medicaid.

The ability to file a personal injury claim against the dog owner could have made life much less stressful for Frankie's parents and caregivers, allowing them to shift their focus away from worries about paying for Frankie's care, and instead direct their attention solely to his recovery.

Thinking of the future

Dog bite injuries have been on the upswing in recent years, and national experts cannot conclusively point to a reason why. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 4 million dog bites are recorded annually, nearly one million of which involve injuries.

If you or a loved one has been the unlucky victim of a vicious animal attack, you do have rights. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options you may have to hold the responsible dog owner accountable for your injuries.

Article provided by Sarkis Law Firm
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