Every state has statutes for how domesticated animals are meant to be kept and treated, and what happens if they attack others. In the state of Pennsylvania, there is a confinement statute that requires all owners of dogs to keep them in a reasonably controlled environment (e.g., a fenced yard). The dog must be confined to its property and restrained with the use of a collar or other device to keep the dog from leaving the yard.
To have a successful dog bite claim, you must prove that the owner violated this statute, which led to your injury.
Common Law Liability and Dog Attacks
If the dog’s owner did not break the law, then negligence per se (meaning negligence as a matter of law due to violation of a statute) is not a viable option for your case. However, that does not mean you are without options.
Instead, your case could fall under the Pennsylvania statutes which state that an owner is liable for any damages that result from an attack by the owner’s dog, or by an animal that was deemed dangerous. When the dog’s owner fails to comply with the state’s laws, you might receive full compensation for your medical bills, injuries, pain, and suffering and even future medical expenses (for example, plastic surgery or scar revision).
What if the Dog Has Not Bitten Before?
When a dog has not attacked a person before, one of two things might occur:
- If your injuries are severe – including lacerations or injuries that require surgery – you can make a claim against the dog’s owner for those medical expenses along with other losses, such as time from work, pain, and suffering.
- If you are not severely injured but did encounter medical costs, you can seek compensation for those costs.
The Pennsylvania Dangerous Dog Statute
To protect people in the community, most states have deployed dangerous dog statutes, and Pennsylvania is no different.
To be classified as a dangerous dog, several factors must be applied:
- The dog must have inflicted serious injury on a person without being provoked.
- The dog has killed or created a serious injury on another domestic animal without reason.
- The dog has attacked a person without being provoked.
- The dog has been used in a crime.
Any dog that has a history of attacking people or other domestic animals without provocation will typically be considered a dangerous dog, per the statute. If the dog shows a propensity to attack without being provoked, it may be regarded as a dangerous dog.
How the Statutes Affect a Dog Bite Injury Case
If you have been seriously injured in a dog attack, your case will depend upon whether the dog had a history of attacks on people or other animals, and other circumstances that caused the animal to attack.
If the owner knew that the dog was dangerous, and he or she failed to secure the dog, the owner is liable for injuries and damages. Moreover, the dangerous dog should be reported to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement or the State Dog Warden and local police department when a dog escapes the premises and the owner does not know where it is. This notifies the authorities that a dangerous dog is on the loose.
Injured by a Dog? Contact a Dog Bite Attorney
Determining owner liability in these types of cases is rarely easy, but it is much easier when you have the assistance of an experienced dog bite attorney.
Dog Bite Attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. will aggressively preserve your right to compensation, and he will ensure that dangerous dogs are removed and are no longer a threat to the community.
Schedule your consultation today at 215-771-0430 (cell) or 215-987-3550 (office). You can also request your free consultation by emailing him online.