Bicyclists vs. Unleashed Dogs: The Injured Can Sue Dog Owner for Negligence

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

By Lisa S. Cummings

As an injury law firm in New York City, we often think of parks as a safe place, away for the dangers for pedestrian and cyclist in the city streets. Central Park is one of the most popular parks in New York City, shared by bicyclists and dog walkers. But if you are an owner of a dog and take your pets out for walks frequently, then you should attend to this decision made by New York’s highest court.

Did you know First Department Appellate Division, located in Manhattan, recently ruled that a bicyclist can sue dog owners for negligence? The plaintiff, Wolfgang Doerr, suffered a broken jaw because a dog sprinted right in front of him in Central Park. He was knocked off his bicycle and then sued defendant, Julie Smith, for negligence, according to the New York Daily News. They found the dog’s owner, Julie Smith, to have limited liability even though she signaled for the dog to come to her. She bent down and clapped her hands on her upper thighs while her boyfriend, Daniel Goldsmith held the dog on the other side of the road in which Doerr was biking around.

Doerr did not claim that the dog’s actions were a result of any vicious propensities of which defendants may have been aware. Usually a known dangerous propensity is what is required for obtaining a recovery. Our law firm has extensive experience pursuing homeowner’s insurance policies for dog attacks.

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