Dog Bite Victims Deserve Fair and Full Compensation, Elmira Personal Injury Attorney Says

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Elmira injury lawyer Scott C. Gottlieb says the recent attack of a 6-year-old boy raises the issue of whether the city’s dangerous dog owners should be required to carry higher minimum liability insurance.

Victims need compensation to pay for a variety of necessary medical expenses that result from a vicious animal bite, such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgical repair to the eyes, nose or ears, plastic surgery or psychological counseling.

"With the recent pit bull attack of a 6-year-old boy making news in Elmira, it may be time to revisit the liability insurance requirements of the city’s dangerous dog ordinance," Elmira personal injury lawyer Scott C. Gottlieb said today.

Under the current City of Elmira ordinance, which was enacted in 2003, the owner of a dog that is deemed to be “dangerous” according to New York law must provide the city’s animal control department with proof of liability insurance of at least $50,000 or a surety bond in that amount.

“An issue that often arises in animal attack cases is securing compensation,” said Gottlieb, an experienced New York dog bite attorney whose Elmira personal injury law firm, Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, represents dog attack victims throughout central New York.

“Victims need compensation to pay for a variety of necessary medical expenses that result from a vicious animal bite, such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgical repair to the eyes, nose or ears, plastic surgery or psychological counseling,” Gottlieb said.

“In the years since this ordinance was enacted, medical costs have risen sharply. That $50,000 floor may no longer be an adequate minimum amount of insurance.”

According to Gottlieb, bites and attacks by dangerous dogs are a public safety issue in Elmira, New York and across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 900,000 people each year suffer dog bite injuries that require medical treatment.

Although certain breeds are widely considered to be dangerous, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers, the Elmira dangerous dog ordinance does not specify breeds.

Instead, the ordinance adopts the definition of a “dangerous” animal found in New York State’s Agriculture & Markets Law. Under this definition, a dog is dangerous if it attacks, injures or kills a person or another animal or “behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death.”

If a dog bite victim can establish that a dog is vicious, and the owner knew of the dog’s dangerous traits, then the owner may be held strictly liable unless it’s shown that the victim somehow provoked the animal or incited the attack, Gottlieb said.

“Establishing liability can be complicated in dog bite cases, and once liability is proven, there is the additional issue of securing compensation,” the Elmira attorney said.

Even though most homeowner insurance policies will cover dog attacks, not everyone is required to carry homeowners’ policies, according to Gottlieb.

“These are complex matters that require an experienced New York lawyer who is skilled at handling dog bite cases,” Gottlieb said. “At our law firm, we have that background, and we are dedicated to working hard to hold dangerous dog owners accountable and secure the funds that dog attack victims need to recover and move on.”

About Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP

The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, handle all types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases, including cases involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats. The firm also represents clients in actions for wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases. Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates has offices in Binghamton, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown. For more information, call (800) TALK-LAW or use the firm’s online contact form.

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