When a dog attacks a person, the owner of that dog is typically liable for the attack and its associated injuries. However, dog owners may attempt to escape liability by raising viable defenses. To avoid these defenses from becoming successful, it is imperative that you have a skilled dog bite attorney working by your side. An attorney knows how to stop these defense strategies and plan accordingly.
Common Defenses Dog Owners May Use to Avoid Liability
- Claims that the victim was trespassing. To recover damages via the dog bite statutes in Pennsylvania, you must prove that you were in a public place or a private area where you legally had the right to be at the time of the attack. If you were trespassing, the owner is not liable for your injuries. Since most attacks occur on or near the owner’s property, this defense is commonly used. However, a child is too young to have the judgment to avoid dangerous situations; so the trespass defense rarely works in the case of a child being attacked by a dog.
- The victim provoked the dog into an assault. Another common argument used in these cases is that the victim provoked the dog into attacking him or her. Kicking and teasing are obvious signs of provocation. But what if a person were to step on a dog’s tail accidentally? That is not always considered provocation. Furthermore, the provocation defense usually is not viable if the case involves a child under the age of five, who is incapable of knowing that they are provoking a dog to attack.
- Claiming an assumption of risk. A dog owner can say that the victim assumed the risk of an attack and released them from liability. In this case, they must prove that the victim knew there was a risk of an attack, but chose to proceed anyway.
- Vet’s Rule applies to the case. People that work with dogs have an assumption of risk and are often unable to sue a dog owner for an attack. However, if the dog’s owner knew that the dog was aggressive and did not tell the veterinarian or put that person in a situation of risk, then the owner could still be liable.
- The statute of limitations has passed. Another defense and one that could be successful is claiming that the statute of limitations has passed. The law has time limits on how long a plaintiff has to file their claim, and once the deadline has passed, the victim cannot seek compensation.
Do Not Worry About the Defenses, Hire an Attorney Instead
Instead of worrying about the defense strategies a dog’s owner might use, speak with an attorney that has experience in a dog attack and bite cases. Attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. has helped countless victims of vicious attacks receive compensation for their injuries.
Speak with him today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling his cell at 215-771-0430, toll-free at 1-800-465-8795, or office direct at 215-987-3550. You can also request a meeting online.