Dog Owner Liability

MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION

Establishing liability for owners of dogs for injuries caused by such dog without any prior reason to believe that the dog was a dangerous dog.

The objective of this proposal is to remove the requirement that a dog be determined to be a “dangerous dog” prior to determining liability for injuries and damages.  The owner of a dog shall be liable for all injuries and damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog regardless of the prior behavior or provocation.

The NYSCC is opposed to this change.  Under current law, the petitioner is required to establish that the dog is, in fact, a dangerous dog through “clear and convincing evidence.”  Under the proposed changes, all dogs would be deemed dangerous, regardless of circumstances.

The effect of the proposed changes would be to make dog owners liable for all injuries and damages inflicted by the dog barring outright assault on the dog or its owner.  Under this proposal, the owner would be liable irrespective of having taken preventative steps or of actions taken by the victim.  An accidental bite inflicted by a friendly dog engaged in play could become the basis for litigation.

This proposition is much too open ended nor has there been any compelling argument as to the need for this change.  Its only visible reason appears to be easing the path to the courthouse.