PA Dog Bite Claims Attorney Answers Commonly Asked Questions
Far too many Philadelphia dog bite injury victims don’t seek compensation simply because they don’t know that they have a case. Philadelphia injury lawyer Jeffrey Harlan Penneys wants all injury victims to be educated and aware of their rights. Below, he has provided the answers to the most common questions he hears at dog bite case consultations, from both dog bite injury victims and their families.
If you don’t see the answer to your question below or you are ready to schedule your own consultation with dog bite attorney Jeffrey Penneys, Esq., please call 215-987-3550 (office) or 215-771-0430 (cell) today.
Should I sign an insurance company release or settle my claim without speaking with an attorney?
Absolutely not. Never sign anything until you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania dog bite attorney. Insurance companies often offer less money than they think the claim is worth, especially if they know the dog bite victim is not represented by an attorney. A lawyer can look closely at the evidence of your case and determine how much it is really worth. Before you know that number, don’t settle your claim.
As an example, there was a case that was worth more than $100,000 that was settled between the injured party and the insurance company for $15,000. Unfortunately, the injured party only contacted me after he had already reached a settlement and there was nothing I could do. Always contact an injury attorney before reaching any type of agreement with anyone else.
How do I know if I have a valid dog bite case?
The best way to know if you should pursue compensation is by discussing your case with an experienced dog bite attorney. In all dog bite cases, you must prove that you were seriously harmed and that another party’s negligence led to your harm. To prove these two things, you need to collect evidence and present it to either the party’s insurance company or to a court of law.
What geographical area do you serve?
My main office is located in Philadelphia, but I have satellite locations in Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County. I am licensed to practice law throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I accept cases from across the state. I understand that injury victims often have difficulty traveling to my offices. If you can’t come to me, I will gladly travel to your home, your hospital room, or another convenient location.
How much is my dog bite case worth?
All dog bite cases are different. The best way to find out how much your case is worth is to share the details of your dog attack and injury with an experienced attorney. Once you have hired me as your attorney, I will closely analyze all of the evidence in your case, including medical bills and wage documentation, before placing a value on your claim.
Generally speaking, the worth of a dog bite case depends upon a number of factors, including the insurance coverage of the at-fault party, whether the party was 100% at fault, how strong the evidence in the case is, and where the dog bite took place geographically.
When calculating damages, your dog bite attorney will consider the following factors:
- Past medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent injuries and deformities
- Pain and suffering
How much time will you spend on my dog bite case? How long will my dog bite case take?
The actual number of hours I will spend on your case depends on its complexity. For example, a wrongful death case in which the insurance company forces us into the courtroom will take far longer than a simple injury case with cooperative parties who wish to settle without litigation. Some cases take years, others settle right after legal papers are filed.
Factors that can affect the length of your case include the jurisdiction where the case occurred, the number of insurance companies involved, and how many dog bite attorneys are involved.
On average, my dog bite cases take a minimum of six months from the date of the incident. Cases that go to court take significantly longer, though approximately 98% of my cases settle pre-litigation.
If my dog bite claim is successful, what types of compensation could I receive?
If I win your case, you may be entitled to both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages may consist of:
- Out-of-pocket losses
- Lost wages
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of future earnings
Non-economic damages may consist of:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Psychological trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How soon should I file my dog bite lawsuit?
In Pennsylvania, adults over the age of 18 have two years from the date of the incident to file a dog bite injury lawsuit. If you are a minor who has not been emancipated, you can file until your 20th birthday. As stated above, most of my cases are resolved during negotiations with the insurance company and without the need for a lawsuit.
It is important to note that just because you have two years to file your dog bite lawsuit, you should not wait until the last minute to speak to a dog bite attorney or to act on your case. Getting legal help early means collecting fresher, better evidence which often strengthens your case.
Does Pennsylvania have a “One Bite Rule?”
Pennsylvania used to have a “one bite rule” that stated that dog owners got one free pass if their dog bites another domestic animal or a human, as long as the dog owner could prove that the dog did not have a documented aggressive past. However, after recent amendments to the state dog bite law, and following a Pennsylvania Superior Court case, this is no longer the case. Currently, an owner can be found liable for damages incurred by their dog’s actions regardless of whether or not the dog had already been established as dangerous.
What is negligence?
Very simply put, negligence is a legal term that means the failure to take reasonable, proper care that results in damage or injury. In other words, if a person or entity is at fault for your dog bite, they could be found negligent. Put another way, if a person or entity should have prevented your dog bite injuries under the law, they could be found negligent.
Examples of negligence in dog bite cases could include an owner who repeatedly allowed his dangerous dog to escape from his yard or a landlord who knowingly lets a dangerous dog reside on his property.
If your dog bite attorney can prove negligence, you may be able to collect compensation from the at-fault party.
Can I still pursue compensation if I was partially at fault for my injuries?
It depends. In Pennsylvania, if you are a minor who is seven years old or younger, you cannot be held responsible for what happened. In these cases, even if a dog bites your young child after she jumps on top of the animal or pulls its ears, she is not to blame for her injuries.
If the injured party is 12 years old or older, he or she can still recover money damages even if they are up to 50% at fault. If you are 51% or more at fault, you probably do not have a case. For example, if a person over twelve years of age teases a dog and gets bitten as a result, he or she will have no case for compensation.
Who can be held responsible for a dog bite injury?
The negligent parties in a dog bite incident could include the following people:
- The dog’s owner.
- The dog’s keeper (the person responsible for the dog at the time of the attack).
- The property owner or landlord where the dog attack incident took place.
- The injured person.
It is important to note that more than one party could be responsible for the same dog bite injury. For example, a young child might have teased a dog and be partially at fault, but that dog could also have been roaming the neighborhood without a leash due to a negligent owner.
After I have determined fault in your dog bite case, I then determine which insurance companies have contracts with the at-fault parties. This usually involves homeowner’s insurance coverage or renter’s insurance coverage.
What should I do immediately following a dog bite incident?
After you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, be sure to immediately identify the dog and seek medical attention for your injuries. In the days and weeks following your injury, collect any and all information regarding your case, closely follow your doctor’s orders, and report any complications or psychological issues that surface in the wake of the attack. We do not recommend that you speak to the insurance company or settle your dog bite claim without first contacting an experienced Philadelphia dog bite attorney about your case.
Still have questions? I will answer them personally.
Do you have a question that wasn’t addressed above, or would you like to tell me about the specifics of your Pennsylvania dog bite case? Call me today at 215-771-0430. I am committed to helping dog bite injury victims and their families and I am available to answer your questions, day or night, seven days a week. In addition, feel free to fill out our online case assessment form. I will get back with you so we can discuss your case.