Dog bite cases, like other types of personal injury cases, can be complex. Here are five things that every dog bite victim should know about dog bite cases:
#1: Dog Bite Claims Are No Different From Other Personal Injury Claims
Dog bite cases are similar to other personal injury claims because the person you are going to sue is the human who owns the dog. In terms of the damages that you will be pursuing, you need to treat them the same as you would in an auto accident:
- You need to seek immediate medical attention,
- You should continue treatment until you reach maximum medical improvement, and
- You need to prove your economic and noneconomic losses in the exact same way.
#2: Dogs No Longer Get “One Free Bite”
In the past, Pennsylvania followed the common law tradition of excusing a dog owner of liability for a dog bite committed by a dog that had never bitten anyone before. This was based on the assumption that dog owners had no way of knowing if their dog was likely to bite someone until it actually happened.
Under this rule, a dog owner is only held liable for a second or subsequent dog bite. So, if the person who was bitten could not prove that the dog had bitten someone in the past, they were unable to receive compensation. However, after amendments to the state dog bite law, this is no longer the case. Now, a dog owner can be held liable for a dog bite regardless of the dog’s “bite history,” and can be held responsible even if this was the dog’s very first bite or attack.
#3: Dog Owners Have a Responsibility to Others
Under Pennsylvania law, dog owners or keepers of any dog must, at all times, keep the dog confined to their property and firmly secured by means of a collar and chain or other devices so that it can not get away. Essentially, any dog must be under their reasonable control. If they fail to ensure this, they may be held liable for any damage that is incurred as a result of their dog’s actions. This includes making sure that the yard or area where the dog is confined is in good repair so that the dog cannot escape or fit it’s head through any openings.
#4: No Trespassing
Trespassing is a common defense to dog bite claims in Pennsylvania. If you are illegally on someone else’s property when you are bitten, you will likely be unable to seek damages.
#5: Comparative Negligence
If you are found to be partly at-fault for the dog bite incident, the amount of damages you can recover may be significantly limited. Pennsylvania follows a 51 percent comparative negligence rule, meaning that you can only recover damages if you are less than 51 percent at-fault for the incident. Furthermore, the amount of damages you are due will be reduced by your own percentage of fault. So, if you are 40 percent at-fault, you can only recover 60 percent of your damages. If you 51 percent at-fault, you will be barred from recovering any damages whatsoever.
Seeking Compensation in Dog Bite Cases
If you were the victim of a dog bite, you need to speak with an expert lawyer. An experienced lawyer can work with the insurance companies – and ultimately go to trial, if necessary – to fight for the compensation that you deserve. Every dog bite case is unique, so it’s best to have a lawyer review the specifics of your case in order to decide how it should be handled. Call the Premier Dog Bite Accident Lawyer toll-free at 1-800InjuryLaw (1-800-465-8795) or 215-987-3550 or 215-771-0430 (cell) in Pennsylvania to schedule a free consultation today.