After logging more than 100 serious dog bites in the space of just three years, city officials in Middletown, NY, are considering a proposal that would require dog owners to purchase insurance coverage for their pets in case they bite or attack.
If the proposed ordinance is approved, it would require renters in the city to purchase insurance if they own dogs over 25 pounds. Mayor Joseph DeStefano told CBS news that the he arrived at the 25-pound weight limit by studying the ban on large dogs in public housing established by the New York City Housing Authority. Most of the serious dog bites that have occurred in Middletown in recent years have involved large dogs that were off leash.
Homeowners would be exempt from the insurance requirement because most homeowner insurance policies already cover injuries caused by pets. But even dog owners who own their own homes would be required to purchase the additional insurance as a condition of renewing a license for an animal that has been involved in an injury-causing incident, DeStefano said.
City officials hope the new ordinance would force dog owners to take financial responsibility in the event that their pets cause an injury. However, the proposal has met with some resistance from landlords as well as some pet owners who believe the new ordinance unfairly penalizes responsible dog owners who are careful to prevent injuries.
New York Dog Bite Law
Under New York state law, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by a dog that is known to be dangerous. This means that the owner is liable regardless of any steps he or she took to prevent the dog from causing injury. For legal purposes, a dog is considered to be dangerous if either of the following is true:
- The dog has previously attacked, injured or killed a person, farm animal or domestic animal without justification, or
- The dog behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a substantial threat of serious injury or death
A person who is injured by a dangerous dog may be able to receive financial compensation for the medical costs and other expenses associated with the injury. For more information about pursuing compensation for a dog bite injury in New York, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.