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Senators consider dog-attack legislation in Albany

It is without a doubt that dogs can be some of the sweetest animals, as well as some of the most vicious. Unfortunately, there are a considerable number of people in Albany and across the state who are the victims of dog attacks every year, approximately half of whom are children. According to New York law, however, if a dog has not bitten before or there is no reason to know that it is dangerous, the dog owner cannot be held financially liable under a premises liability lawsuit for the victim's injuries. State senators in Albany are hoping to change that, however.

"Frankie's Bill" is named after a 9-year-old boy who was seriously injured by a pit bull four years ago. He was bitten on his face, head and arms and suffered approximately 100 cuts. In addition to the cuts, he sustained nerve damage and had chunks of flesh bitten off.

It is no surprise that Frankie has needed medical attention since his attack. He has had 25 surgeries in the past four years and it is unknown how many more he may need. His surgeons have been trying to limit the number of times he needs to go under, so they stretch out the procedures to fit several surgeries into one. Although he has had some insurance coverage for the bites, it largely covered those first surgeries necessary to stabilize his condition.

Because the dog who attacked him had never shown signs of being dangerous before, Frankie and his mother have been unable to collect any money from the owner to cover the cost of cosmetic surgeries. While their neighbors and other community members have been generous and donated a considerable amount of money, no one who has suffered a serious dog attack should have to rely on generosity to cover their medical costs. And, if this new bill passes, anyone injured by a dog may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against a dog owner whose dog attacks and injures him or her.

Source: Democrat and Chronicle, "'Frankie's Bill' seeks to toughen New York's dog-bite laws," Haley Viccaro, April 16, 2013

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