Syracuse Dog Bite Attorney

Syracuse Office
108 West Jefferson Street,
Suite 401
Syracuse, NY 13202


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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959

Dangerous dogs pose serious concerns for adults and children throughout Syracuse. While most dogs are friendly, even seemingly relaxed dogs can turn on you when you least expect it. Dogs are still animals with certain instincts, and may attack under the right conditions.

Especially with a dog you know or have met before, you never expect that they will attack you or your child. But that can happen, and when it does, it can be both frightening and painful.

At Finkelstein & Partners LLP, we know the concerns and questions you have after suffering a dog bite. Whether the dog has attacked you or your child, our team of experienced Syracuse dog bite attorneys can answer all of your questions and be your guide through the legal process ahead.

Dog bite injuries can lead to serious and lifelong consequences for the victim. Our goal is to help you hold the negligent party liable for your dog bite injuries, working toward collecting the maximum compensation so you do not pay a penny out of your own pocket.

Why Dogs Attack

The simple truth is that most dogs bite out of fear. It’s a defense mechanism for dogs. When they are fearful of someone or something, they show teeth and possibly bite.

Other dogs bite for territorial reasons. Some dogs are trained to guard property and protect their owners. If they fear that someone is there to harm them or their owners, they may attack, even if their fear is misplaced.

Even just startling a dog can make the dog fearful of you and react with a bite, even if they know you. Dogs have sharp teeth and even a quick bite can break the skin.

What to Do After a Dog Bites You

If you are injured by a dog somewhere in Syracuse, the most important thing you can do is treat your dog bite immediately. You need to make sure your injury is treated quickly by using a clean cloth to apply pressure to the bite area, using topical disinfectant if available, and then seek medical attention.

Taking these four steps after a dog bite can increase your chances of making a full recovery.

  1. Seek medical attention. Dogs carry lots of bacteria in their mouths. That bacteria can be harmful to humans and when a dog bites you, some of the bacteria may enter your body. Seeking immediate medical attention will help ensure that you are healthy. If your doctor finds an infection, the faster they can begin treatment, the less likely it is that you will suffer long-term consequences.
  2. Find the dog’s owner. If you know the dog or its owner, find out if the dog has been vaccinated. If you do not know the dog or its owner, contact animal control to help you locate the dog’s owner. If you cannot determine if the dog has been properly vaccinated, you may need to undergo rabies vaccination. If left untreated, you could face a lifetime of serious medical needs.
  3. Keep a journal. After your dog bite, write down everything you remember about the attack. Describe what you were doing and why you think the dog attacked you. As you progress through your medical recovery, keep notes about how you feel, what activities you can and cannot do, and your level of pain. Over time, you may forget the extent of your daily struggles. Keeping a journal can help your legal team show what you had to endure to get better, potentially increasing your compensation.
  4. Contact Finkelstein & Partners LLP. For over 50 years, we have been helping dog bite victims in Syracuse recover compensation for their injuries. Our main goal is to shoulder the legal stress and guide you through the Syracuse dog bite claim process. This gives you the chance to put all of your effort and energy on your physical recovery, while we work to get you every dollar you deserve.

Syracuse Dog Bite Bite Complications

Seeing your skin cut from a dog’s sharp teeth is worrisome on its own, but you could face much more danger that you cannot see.

Nearly 20 percent of all dog bites become infected. This is why it is vital to your physical health and well-being that you seek medical attention right away. You need to make sure that your body is taken care of and you get the treatment you need to get back to your regular life as quickly as possible.


If left untreated, rabies often leads to death. The virus attacks the human brain and is spread by the dog’s saliva entering your body through the bite. While the best way to prevent rabies is by vaccinating dogs, if you suffer a dog bite and are unsure the dog has had a rabies vaccine, you must seek medical attention immediately to ensure your life is not in danger.


This virus is less severe than rabies but still poses a threat to humans. People with weakened immune systems can suffer serious consequences if bit by a dog with capnocytophaga.


Also passed through the dog’s saliva, this will cause a painful, red infection where you suffered the dog bite. It can also cause joint swelling and difficulty moving.


Upon entering your body through the dog bite, staphylococcal can affect all of your body’s organs. It often causes skin, lung, and urinary tract infections and can lead to life-threatening infections if not properly treated.


This toxin enters your body through a dog bite. It often causes high blood pressure, fever, and respiratory failure. In people with weakened immune systems, it can also cause paralysis.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often thought of as something that soldiers deal with upon their return from war. But any traumatic, life-altering event can cause PTSD. Victims of mass shootings, serious car accidents, and even dog bite attacks are known to suffer PTSD, especially children. Overcoming PTSD can be extremely challenging as the disorder can be debilitating, leaving the victim with little ability to go about their daily life.

Determining Who Is Responsible for Your Syracuse Dog Bite

Determining liability can be more difficult than you might think. Different states have different laws surrounding dog bites. Some states use strict liability, meaning the dog’s owner is liable for any injuries the dog causes. Other states use a one-bite rule, meaning that once a dog bites someone one time, the dog owner knows the dog might do so again and needs to take appropriate action.

To make things more confusing, New York uses both rules. If a dog is considered dangerous, the dog owner is strictly liable for the medical costs of the victim. Besides medical costs, the dog owner may also have to pay a fine if they acted negligently or failed to properly restrain the dog.

New York law also provides for criminal penalties in certain situations. But you should be aware that any criminal conviction or penalties the dog owner may be required to pay will not cover all of the medical bills you may face.

While it may be clear the dog owner is liable for their dog attacking you, it might be less clear as to how you collect compensation. That’s where the experience and skill of Finkelstein & Partners LLP can help you. Our team of knowledgeable Syracuse dog bite attorneys can help you determine who is to blame for your dog bite injuries and help you recover maximum compensation from them. Your ability to recover from your dog bite injuries can depend on the lawyer you choose.

Getting Compensation for Your Syracuse Dog Bite Injuries

No amount of money will reverse the suffering you have endured. No amount of money will reverse the changes you have faced in your life. The compensation you may collect, however, will make sure that you do not suffer financial hardship because of your dog bite injuries.

When you partner with a trusted dog bite lawyer in Syracuse, your lawyer may try to collect compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs

The majority of your medical expenses may come in the future. A dog bite might seem like a relatively harmless injury, but dog bites can prove fatal or leave you with a lifetime of medical needs.

A severe dog bite injury may prevent you from working in the same capacity as before. This can hinder your ability to make a living and pay your medical expenses.

Your Syracuse dog bite attorney can help you determine how much money you may lose throughout your life as a direct result of your dog bite injuries. This can increase the amount of compensation you can recover, ensuring that you do not pay a dime out of your own pocket for your medical expenses or financial losses.

Filing a Syracuse Dog Bite Lawsuit

To attempt collecting money from the dog’s owner for your dog bite injuries, you may need to file a lawsuit against them. You need to file your lawsuit soon, and that’s why you must speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer in Syracuse as soon as possible after your injuries. If you miss this important filing deadline, you could miss out on your chance to recover compensation from the dog’s owner.

The point of filing a lawsuit is to ensure that you do not suffer more than you already have. Your goal is to collect compensation so you can cover your medical expenses and any financial losses you face resulting from your dog bite injury.

The last thing you may be thinking about after a dog attacks you is filing a lawsuit. If you know the dog’s owner, you may not want to file a lawsuit at all. But remember that in most cases, you are really filing a claim against their insurance, not them personally.

When you partner with a trusted dog bite attorney in Syracuse, they take on the burden of dealing with your legal claim so you can focus all of your effort and energy on your physical health and well-being. With the right legal team at your side, you can get the peace of mind that your case is in good hands and your best interests are at heart.

andrew finkelstein
Syracuse Dog Bite Attorney, Andrew Finkelstein

Syracuse Dog Bite Settlement Negotiations

Part of the role your legal representative will play in the attempt to collect maximum compensation for you is negotiating with the insurance company representing the dog’s owner. Most dogs are on their owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, as dogs are considered property.

The dog owner’s insurance company will want to settle your case quickly. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your claim. Obviously, your goal is different.

That’s why an aggressive Syracuse personal injury lawyer can be the answer to your problems. Your lawyer can be the legal advocate you deserve, standing up to the big insurance company, fighting tooth and nail to help you collect every dollar you deserve. You and your family should not bear the financial burden suffered after your dog bite injury. Let your lawyer fight to protect your rights and help you collect the compensation you need to get back to your regular life.

Syracuse Dog Bite FAQ

By some estimates, tens of thousands of domesticated dogs live in Syracuse. With that many dogs in and around our lives, dog bite injuries are bound to happen. And they do.

A dog bite can cause serious trauma, and often leaves bite victims wondering what they can do to obtain compensation for the harm they’ve suffered. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about your legal and financial rights as a victim of a dog bite in Syracuse. Answers to your specific questions about your rights in the wake of a dog bite that harmed you or a loved one, contact an experienced Syracuse dog bite injury lawyer today.

How do I obtain compensation for dog bite injuries?

If a dog injured you in Syracuse, you may seek compensation for the expenses and personal impacts of your injury by taking legal action against the dog’s owner or anyone else who had responsibility for controlling the dog at the time of the attack.

Typically, taking legal action means filing a lawsuit in an Onondaga County court, claiming money damages for your injuries and losses. Under New York law, you usually must take that legal action within three years of the date of the bite.

In that lawsuit, your attorney generally must prove that the party you sue owes you money damages under New York law. If your lawyer succeeds, the party with liability must pay you compensation. Oftentimes, that party’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will cover that liability.

What kind of compensation is available to me?

New York allows the victims of dog bites to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. What this means is that you can obtain compensation for both the expenses of your injury (economic damages) as well as the quality-of-life impacts you sustained as a result of suffering a dog bite injury (non-economic damages).

Expenses and impacts commonly claimed as damages in Syracuse dog bite cases include:

  • Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, and medication
  • Lost wages, if you missed work because of your injury.
  • Loss of future earning capacity if your injury leads to a permanent disability that impairs your ability to work in the future.
  • Property damage, such as torn clothing from the dog attack or replacing your phone that you dropped when the attack occurred.
  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.

The potential amount of these damages can vary widely from case to case, depending on the nature and severity of the injuries you suffered, and their impact on your life. An experienced Syracuse dog bite attorney can evaluate your claim and advise you about the scope of damages you may claim.

Does the owner of the dog that bit me automatically owe me damages?

It gets a little complicated. In a nutshell, the owner probably does automatically have liability for your bite-related medical costs, and may also have automatic (or strict) liability for your other damages if the owner knew the dog was vicious.

New York’s dog laws require a dog owner to pay for any medical costs resulting from injuries caused by a so-called “dangerous dog”. The law defines a dangerous dog, in part, as one that “(i) without justification attacks a person … and causes physical injury or death, or (ii) behaves in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death….”

New York law also holds dog owners strictly liable (that is, liable regardless of the reasonableness of the owner’s actions) for all damages caused by a dog known to have “vicious propensities”. Generally speaking, an owner knows or should know of those propensities if a dog has attacked before, if the dog has previously shown menacing or dangerous behavior toward humans or other animals, or if the dog has been officially designated a “dangerous dog” through a court-supervised process.

In Syracuse dog bite cases where the dog owner did not know the dog had vicious tendencies, liability is not automatic. Instead, to recover damages from the owner, the bite victim’s lawyer must prove that the owner’s decisions or actions put the victim at an unreasonable risk of suffering a dog bite. For example, an owner may face liability for a bite inflicted by his dog while the dog was running loose on a city street, in violation of Syracuse dog control ordinances.

How concerned should I be about whether the dog that bit me has had its rabies vaccination?

You should be very concerned. Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected animal. If left untreated, rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal in humans.

New York statutes and Syracuse ordinances require all dog owners to not only license their animals, but also to ensure that the animal receives rabies vaccinations. Treatment for a dog bite often focuses on identifying the dog and ensuring that it has been vaccinated. A vaccinated dog is unlikely to have transmitted rabies to you, although you and the owner may need to monitor the dog to make sure. If the dog’s vaccination status is unknown, the dog should be impounded for several days of observation to determine if it is sick and if you need rabies treatment.

In the event you cannot identify the dog that bit you or determine its health status through impoundment, a medical professional will likely recommend that you receive treatment for rabies as a protective measure. It’s too risky to “wait and see” with rabies beyond the length of an impoundment period by the time the virus shows symptoms in humans, it is often too far advanced for treatment will kill its victim.

What are the restrictions on owning a dangerous dog in Syracuse?

Syracuse’s dangerous dog ordinances mirror New York State law.

A dangerous dog in Syracuse:

  • Has a known propensity to attack unprovoked, cause injury, or otherwise jeopardize the safety of individuals who are peacefully conducting themselves in a place where they are lawfully allowed to be.
  • Has made an unprovoked attack on a human or domestic animal.
  • Was owned, harbored primarily for, or trained for dog fighting.

If a dog is designated a dangerous dog in Syracuse, the owner is prohibited from allowing the animal to be unconfined. Confinement in this situation means that the dog must stay in the owner’s home or an enclosed kennel or pen. The pen must be marked with a prominently placed warning sign. Dogs designated as dangerous cannot be bought or sold within the city. If a designated dangerous dog bites someone, the city can seize the dog and the owner may face criminal charges in addition to liability to the bite victim.

How serious must dog bite injuries be to justify a legal claim for damages?

New York law does not specify a minimum degree of severity for dog bite claims. As a rule of thumb, however, we strongly encourage you to contact an experienced Syracuse dog bite injury attorney if the dog bite injury you or a loved one suffered required medical treatment (and expense), or if it inflicted severe emotional suffering, especially to a child.

I got an infection from a dog bite injury and had to be hospitalized. Can I seek damages for health complications I suffered from the bite?

Yes. As a general rule, in Syracuse, you can seek compensation for all reasonable medical expenses associated with your dog bite injury. Had the injury not occurred, you would not have sustained an infection. Infections are a common complication of dog bites, occurring in about 10-15 percent of these injuries. Dogs have more than 600 types of bacteria in their mouths that can be introduced into a person’s bloodstream when the teeth break through the skin.

Can I file a claim on behalf of my child who was bitten by a dog?

In most circumstances, children under the age of 18 are unable to file a lawsuit on their own in New York. A parent can file a personal injury claim in New York on behalf of their child to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts the child endured as the result of injury. If the parent files the claim, he or she must do so within three years of the date on which the dog bite injury occurred. If the parent does not file the claim on the child’s behalf, the child has until three years after their 18th birthday to file a claim on their own.

We strongly encourage parents of children bitten by dogs in Syracuse to consult with an experienced dog bite injury attorney immediately, and not to leave the decision about what legal course to pursue until their child’s 18th birthday.

Since the dog bite, I am terrified of other dogs. Is there compensation available for that?

In general, yes. New York law permits dog bite victims to seek non-economic damages, which may include the emotional suffering inflicted by a dog bite or attack, as well as other life challenges resulting from that harm. Non-economic damages also include compensation for a victim’s physical pain, interference with a victim’s personal relationships, and overall reduction of the victim’s quality of life.

A skilled Syracuse dog bite attorney can evaluate the scope of your non-economic damages, and pursue the maximum available damages on your behalf.

Are there cases where a dog owner is not liable for dog bite injuries?

Yes. An owner may not have liability to dog bite victim if:

  • The bite victim was trespassing or engaging in criminal activity on the dog owner’s property.
  • The dog was protecting its owner, puppies, or itself from harm when the bite occurred.
  • The bite victim provoked, teased, or abused the dog immediately before the bite occurred.
  • A police dog inflicted the bite in connection with the dog’s (and its handler’s) official duties.

It is not always easy to know if the situations above prevent a victim from obtaining damages from a dog owner. We always encourage Syracuse dog bite victims to speak with an attorney experienced in these types of cases to learn about their rights.

I was injured when a dog knocked me down but didn’t bite me. Can I seek compensation?

Generally speaking, yes. Victims of any domestic animal attack, even if it doesn’t involve a bite, can usually seek compensation for any injury they suffered. The law often focuses on bites because they happen frequently, but that focus takes nothing away from victims’ rights when an animal causes some other sort of harm. A dog is dangerous or vicious even if it has not bitten its victim.

My friend’s dog bit me. If I file a claim, will I have to testify against her in court?

Not necessarily. The vast majority of personal injury claims resolve before they ever see the inside of a courtroom, meaning that in all likelihood you would not have to testify against your friend in court.

Of course, that’s not always the case. Some cases do go to trial and require live testimony. But even if that happens, it does not necessarily mean you will put your friendship on the line.

Experienced Syracuse dog bite lawyers understand the sensitivities sometimes involved in seeking compensation for an injury you sustain while spending time with friends and family. They can take those sensitivities into account while also enforcing your valuable legal rights.

What can a dog bite lawyer do for me?

A dog bite attorney in Syracuse can investigate the bite you suffered, identify the party or parties who may owe you damages, advocate for you in and out of court, and get you the maximum payment available for your injuries and losses.

For a free consultation about your rights to compensation for a dog bite in Syracuse that harmed you or a loved one, contact a skilled attorney at Finkelstein & Partners today.

Get Help From Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in Syracuse

Dog bite cases might seem simple, but they are in reality anything but. Because New York is a mixed state when it comes to dog owner liability, that can create hurdles that even experienced dog bite lawyers must work to overcome. Not all lawyers can handle complex dog bite injury cases. Finkelstein & Partners LLP can, and with over 50 years of helping dog bite injury victims recover, we welcome the opportunity to help you.

Contact Finkelstein & Partners LLP today at (315) 453-3053 to find out how we can help you collect every dollar you deserve so you can get back to the life you love.