Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorneys

Have You Been the Victim of a Dog Attack?

Unfortunately, dog bites happen more often than you might think.  There are times when a tame and loving dog becomes unexpectedly aggressive.  This can happen in dogs that have shown no prior propensity for becoming aggressive.  Some dogs are incredibly powerful animals and can inflict very serious injuries.  If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by an aggressive dog, those injures can affect you for the rest of your life.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania protects victims of a dog attack by holding the dog owner responsible for the damage caused by their dog.

How Long Can You Wait to File a Dog Bite Claim In Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, there is a two year statute of limitations to file a dog bite lawsuit if you are 18 years of age or older.  The two year statute of limitations starts to run from the date of the dog attack.  If you are a minor, you have two years from your 18th birthday to file a dog bite lawsuit.  This means minors have until their 20th birthday to file a dog bite lawsuit.  In order to give your potential case the best chance of succeeding, you should notify an attorney immediately if you have been the victim of a serious dog bite.

What Types of Damages are Available in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Generally, in Pennsylvania, dog bite lawsuits involve claims for two types of damages, economic and non-economic.  Each case is different, and depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the following damages:

Economic Damages
  • Medical Expenses;
  • Lost Wages; and
  • Out of Pocket Expenses
    • Copays;
    • Over the Counter Medications;
    • Medical Supplies, etc.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and Suffering;
  • Mental Suffering;
  • Scarring;
  • Disfigurement; and 
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Who is Responsible for the Dog in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

In Pennsylvania, the owner of the dog is typically responsible for the injuries it causes.  However, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, a landowner, landlord, or keeper may also be responsible in a dog bite lawsuit.  It should also be noted that you may also be contributorily negligent for your injuries if you teased or provoked the dog into attacking you.

What is my Dog Bite Lawsuit Worth?

The value of your dog bite lawsuit depends on a variety of factors, including the type of severity of your injury.  

How Do I Know if I Have a Valid Dog Bite Claim?

In order to answer this question, you need to discuss the facts and circumstances of your dog bite with our law office.  Our office offers free evaluations on cases like these so that we can discuss the viability of your potential claim and you can gather all the necessary information before making any decisions.

What Should I do if I am Attacked or Bitten by a Dog? 

Just like any other type of personal injury case, there are important steps to take after you are bitten or attacked by a dog, to help give your case the best possible chance of succeeding.

  • Gather Information
    • If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, it is extremely important to identify the dog and its owner.  You want to obtain as much of their personal information as possible, including their name and address.  If possible, you will also want to obtain any dog license information, as this will help determine if the dog is up to date on its required shots.
    • If there are any witnesses to the dog attack, you want to obtain their personal information as well.  This includes their name, address, and best phone number to contact them at.
  • Medical Treatment
    • If you have been injured as the result of a dog attack, it is important that you seek medical treatment for your injuries.  Dog bites can carry the risk of infection, or even nerve damage.  If attacked or bitten by a dog it is important to be checked out by a medical professional.
  • Document Your Injuries
    • Just like any other personal injury case, it is important to document your injuries if you have been attacked or bitten by a dog.  You want to take pictures of your injuries, including the wound(s) and/or bruises and any torn or ripped clothing that has resulted from the attack.  This evidence will end up playing an important role in your potential case. 
  • File a Report With Your Local Police Department and Animal Control
    • If you seek any medical treatment for a dog bite, you must file an incident report with your local Animal Control department.  This helps document the incident, and if any laws were broken, it helps the local authorities enforce them.
  • Talk to an Attorney
    • If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, it is important you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  An experienced attorney can help assist you in your investigation and make sure vital pieces of evidence are not lost, this will help ensure that your potential claim has the best possible chance of succeeding.
Pennsylvania's Leash Law

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, dog owners are required to maintain control of their dogs at all times.  If the leash laws have been violated and the dog attacks a human being or another animal, the dogs owner may be held liable for the damages caused.

Pennsylvania'a Dangerous Dog Statute

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if a dog is considered dangerous under the statute, its owner(s) might be required to register it with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.  This will require the owner to pay a yearly registration fee, and follow the guidelines of the statute.  Should the owner choose not to follow the requirements of the statute, they may be subjected to fines and penalties.  In addition, if their dog attacks a human being or another animal, they may be held liable for the damages caused.

Pursuant to the statute, a dog may be considered dangerous if it has:

  • Caused serious injury to a person without provocation;
  • Caused serious injury or death to a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's premises;
  • Attacked a person without provocation;
  • Was used by a person to commit a crime; or;
  • Has a history of attacking people or animals without provocation or demonstrates a propensity to attack.
Local Dog Laws

In addition to the state laws that have been discussed above, your local county and/or municipality may have its own leash laws or laws pertaining to the confinement of a dog.  

Theories of Liability in a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Common Law in Pennsylvania

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the common law provides that an owner is not responsible for a dog bite unless he knew or had reason to know of his dog's vicious propensity. Andrews v. Smith, 324 Pa. 455,188A.146 (Pa. 1936).

Pennsylvania courts have held that the “one free bite rule” is not accepted as a defense in civil cases in Pennsylvania. A dog owner can be held liable for your damages from a dog bite regardless of whether this is the first time the dog has bitten a person.  In Deardorff v. Burger, 606 A.2d 489 (Pa. Super. 1992), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held: “as soon as the owner knows or has reason to believe that the animal is likely to do mischief, he must take care of him; it makes no difference whether this ground of suspicion arises from one act or from repeated acts. The only restriction is that the act done must be such as to furnish a reasonable inference that the animal is likely to commit an act of the kind complained of.” 

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine whereby an act is considered negligent because it violates a statute. Under a negligence per se theory, a plaintiff must show:

  • That there is an applicable statute;
  • That a violation of that statute caused harm of the kind that the statute was intended to avoid; and
  • The harm was done to a person within a class of persons that the statute was designed to protect.

Under a negligence per se theory of liability, a plaintiff would attempt to recover for the damages they sustained by proving that the dog owner violated one of the statutes that was discussed above.

Defenses to a Dog Bite Lawsuit

The at fault party or parties may have several defenses available to them for claims for damages caused after a dog attack or bite.  These include and are not limited to the dog owner showing that the injured person was trespassing on the subject property or that the injured person was teasing or provoking the dog.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of a dog attack or bite, call Sklarosky Law today at (570) 283-1200 or use our online contact form and tell us about your potential case. Dog bite injury claims can be complex, and proving a dog owner is liable for damages can be challenging.  Do not wait, call us today so that we can help you obtain the financial compensation you may be entitled to.

Sklarosky Law Is Here for You

At Sklarosky Law, we are going to fight for you. Whether it's against an insurance company to help you get the financial compensation you deserve or fighting for you in the criminal justice system to get you a fair result. We are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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