After a dog bite or attack, the last thing on your mind is filing a lawsuit against the dog’s owner or other negligent party.
However, as time moves on and the costs of the injury keep coming in, you find yourself looking for compensation. In a dog bite injury case, you have two options: file a formal lawsuit or request compensation through a claim with the insurance company.
Before picking which route, you need a valid case. Naturally, the best way to tell if you have a dog bite case is to meet with an attorney. While you wait for your free consultation, you can go over the facts that indicate it may be time to file a claim for your injuries.
When to File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite Injury Case in Philadelphia
Several factors go into determining whether you have a dog bite injury case or not. While the circumstances of your case might vary from another case, these factors are generally required to succeed with a claim in court or through private negotiations.
The Statute of Limitations
All states impose a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is an official deadline that protects defendants from being sued years after the fact – when evidence and witnesses are less likely available.
Pennsylvania does have a personal injury statute of limitations, and you have until that deadline to file your injury case in the civil court system. After the deadline passes, you cannot file an injury lawsuit – regardless of how negligent the other party was or the evidence you have.
The state requires that all injury claims, including dog bites and attacks, file within two years of the date of injury. Therefore, the clock starts on the date of the attack and you have two years from that date. The rules are different for minors, who have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit or forever lose the right to compensation.
The Issue of Statutory Liability in Pennsylvania Dog Bite Cases
Pennsylvania, like most states, employs statutory liability for dog owners. However, this only applies in certain situations.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court held in Miller v. Hurst that an owner is liable for their dog’s attack if they fail to comply with the state’s confinement statutes. Even if the dog does not have a propensity for violence, has never harmed a person, and is not aggressive, the owner is liable for the attack by failing to keep their dog in a fenced backyard or on a leash while in public (a violation of the statute).
Do You Know Who Is Liable?
To file a claim or lawsuit, you need a defendant named in that claim. The defendant is usually the owner of the dog, but not always. Sometimes it may be a caretaker of the animal, landlord, or another third party. It might be difficult to determine the liable party in certain situations, which is why it is best that you speak with an attorney before assuming the dog’s owner is the only party liable for your injuries.
Is There Homeowners’, Renter’s or Other Insurance Coverage?
If the dog attack happens on private property, homeowners’ insurance typically pays for the injuries up to the maximum policy amount. If the owner does not have insurance coverage, then your attorney must assess the likelihood they can pay for the claim.
Also, the amount of liability insurance coverage available dictates the maximum compensation you may be able to receive. For example, your damages total $250,000, but the dog’s owner only has $100,000 in liability coverage. The insurance is only liable for the $100,000 policy limits.
How Close Are You to Recovery?
Before a claim can be settled or a lawsuit is filed you need to know the full value of your case. If you are still under the care of a physician and recovering, you should hold-off on settlement and still consult with an attorney. The worst thing you can do in a dog attack case is to wait to talk with an attorney. Evidence and witnesses are harder to find as time passes– even a few months after an attack. Therefore, the sooner you get an attorney involved, the faster the process might be.
Schedule a Consultation Regarding Your Potential Dog Bite Case
If you were attacked by a dog, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Speak with dog bite attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. today regarding your potential compensation.
I have helped countless victims throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania just like you seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain, suffering, and the emotional trauma of a vicious attack.
Schedule your free consultation today by calling 800-465-8795 (office), 215-771-0430 (cell), or fill out my online contact form with your questions.