Dogs can make for great pets and companions. Unfortunately, not every dog owner in Pennsylvania is as responsible as they should be for their pet. Poorly trained and dangerous dogs can cause severe injuries to other people and animals.
If someone else’s pet bit or attacked you, speak with a Lewisburg dog bite lawyer about your options. There are many legal nuances to dog bite lawsuits, and help from a respected attorney like Jon Ostroff and the team at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can be vital in getting the payments you deserve. We have handled dog bite cases for countless Pennsylvania residents, including one client in Lehigh County who required surgery after suffering a broken hip in an attack by a pit bull. Jon settled the case for $375,000 by obtaining crucial evidence from the scene of the attack.
Holding a Dog Owner at Fault for Bite Injuries
In Pennsylvania, dog owners hold “strict liability” for a victim’s medical expenses after an attack. “Strict liability” means that the owner is always responsible for paying for those expenses, even if they trained and restrained their dog the way they were supposed to and didn’t do anything reckless or careless before the bite.
However, dog owners in Pennsylvania are not automatically liable for any other kinds of losses—for example, lost income due to time missed from work, physical pain, and any psychological trauma stemming from the attack. To make a dog owner pay for these damages, your attorney must either 1) prove the victim’s injuries were severe, or, 2) prove that the owner knew their pet had “unmistakably vicious tendencies” and, despite knowing this, did not do what a reasonable person would have done to control the dangerous dog.
When a dog bite victim is severely injured, Pennsylvania law makes a dog owner strictly liable for all damages from the severe dog bite, regardless of negligence and regardless of whether it can be proven the dog has bitten someone before. Because strict liability applies to severe dog bite injuries in Pennsylvania, a victim of a severe dog bite in Pennsylvania can recover for not only medical expenses but also pain and suffering and all other losses from the liable dog owner. The only exception is when the dog was provoked by the dog bite victim.
As it relates to a dog bite, Pennsylvania law defines “severe injury” as “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.” 3 P.S. § 459-102
A dog doesn’t necessarily become “unmistakably vicious” from just one bite. On the other hand, a dog that hasn’t bitten anyone can still be considered “unmistakably vicious” based on other aggressive or dangerous behavior. Your Lewisburg attorney can further explain how state law deals with dog bite cases and how courts generally handle these lawsuits.
Can Dog Owners Avoid Responsibility for a Bite?
If you’re thinking about suing someone over a dog attack, it is important to note that know that dog bite victims can sometimes be found partially to blame for their own injuries. For example, suppose someone gets bitten while trespassing on property owned by a dog’s owner, or they were teasing or shouting at the dog before it bit them. In that case, a court might decide they were more at fault for their injuries than the dog’s owner and deny them any money for their losses.
Even if a dog’s owner is mainly to blame for a dog bite, any amount of fault you have for the incident could be held against you when determining the final value of your settlement or court verdict. Support from a seasoned dog bite lawyer in Lewisburg will be crucial in obtaining every cent of the compensation you deserve.
Talk to a Lewisburg Dog Bite Attorney Today
Nobody deserves to go through the physical and emotional pain of being attacked by a dog. If someone else’s dog recently attacked you, taking legal action against the dog’s owner might be the right move.
Our winning legal team at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers will fight for you from start to finish of the legal process. Call today to learn how a Lewisburg dog bite lawyer can help you.