Even the friendliest dogs can still have wild instincts. Someone’s pet can cause you severe harm if it is not properly trained or controlled. Bites from small dogs can result in deep lacerations and infections that require intensive medical treatment. Larger dogs may be strong enough to tear through muscle tissue and shatter bones.
The degree to which a dog owner may be liable for injuries their dog causes can vary a lot based on the circumstances. Our Founding Partner Jon Ostroff has years of experience pursuing claims against negligent dog owners.
In a past case, our legal team represented a client that was trying to protect her small dog from an attack by a pit bull, that had burst through the front door of its owner’s home. The dog leaped on her and slammed her to the pavement. Though the dog didn’t bite our client, her hip was broken, and she required surgery to repair it. Jon Ostroff settled this case for $375,000. Having a seasoned Pennsylvania dog bite lawyer on your side can be crucial to obtaining fair compensation.
Dog Owner Liability for Bite Injuries
No matter what history—or lack thereof—reveals a dog’s aggressive behavior, Pennsylvania law holds that owners are strictly liable for all medical expenses incurred by their dog biting another person. To recover for other forms of harm such as lost work income, physical pain, and the consequences of permanent disability or disfigurement, you must establish that the dog owner was legally negligent.
Proving negligence in a dog bite claim generally entails showing that the animal’s owner was aware their pet had aggressive tendencies, but failed to take reasonable and/or legally required steps to control the dog and keep it from injuring other people. Here are some helpful examples of when liability for a dog attack would or would not arise:
If a dog is legally considered a more dangerous breed, like a pit bull or rottweiler, its owner will be responsible for any attack that causes injury to another person.
A single previous bite does not establish by itself that a dog is dangerous, especially where the dog is not part of a breed that is considered “dangerous.”
A dog bite is not required to hold an owner liable for injuries it causes. This was the case in the $375k recovery discussed above, where this dog knocked over our client while trying to attack her dog, but it didn’t bite her.
A Pennsylvania dog attack lawyer at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can offer further clarification about recovery options based on your circumstances.
How State Law Defines “Dangerous Dogs”
One of the most important questions to answer before beginning litigation over a dog bite is whether the dog in question was considered “dangerous” under state law. In Pennsylvania, a dog is considered dangerous if any of the following are true:
The dog has attacked and/or severely injured a human being before without provocation
The dog has killed or severely killed another domesticated animal before without provocation and while off its owner’s property
The dog’s owner has used the dog to facilitate the commission of a crime
The dog has a history of attacking domesticated animals and/or people without provocation on a previous occasion.
People who own “dangerous dogs” as defined by state law must register their dogs with local authorities, maintain an appropriate enclosure for the dog with posted warnings about its aggressive tendencies, muzzle and physically restrain the dog at all times while it is off their property, and maintain adequate liability insurance coverage.
If you were bitten by someone’s dog, consult with a lawyer to determine whether the dog is considered dangerous.
Collecting Damages from a Dog Owner Whom You Know
Often, dog bites occur when a victim is visiting a neighbor, relative, or friend. That means that the victim knows—and often has a close relationship with—the dog’s owner. You can and should stillpursue a recovery for your injuries.
The dog owner likely has homeowner’s insurance that will pay your injury claim. Settlement money will therefore not come directly from the dog owner. Remember, you should not have to bear the expense of an injury that you suffer because of someone else’s dog. A lawyer at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can explain how these recoveries are obtained and why you as the victim have total control over whether anything is paid by the dog owner towards your settlement.
A Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
It can be difficult to prove civil liability for dog bite injuries without legal counsel. Retaining an attorney from Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can help you obtain full compensation for the harm and losses you suffered from a dog attack.
Our Pennsylvania dog bite lawyers can answer whatever questions you have and explain your filing options in detail during a free, confidential consultation. Schedule your consultation by calling today.