What is the one-free-bite rule and is it the law?

It’s not the law in either New York or New Jersey. In New Jersey, homeowners are strictly responsible for dog bites, even the first one. What that phrase generally refers to is New York’s law, which says a homeowner is only responsible for a dog bite if they knew, or should have known, of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Some people interpret that to mean, “Well, the first bite is free,” but that’s not the case. A dog may never have bitten anyone, but may have barked, growled, or shown vicious propensities before that first bite, and if that happened, the owner is responsible, even if it’s the first time that the dog bit someone.

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