In Pennsylvania, dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their animals, so if you or your child were bitten by a dog, it is vital to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Individuals who sustain severe injuries as a result of a dog bite can file a claim against the dog’s owner for medical expenses and other losses incurred as a result of the attack. To establish a dog owner’s responsibility, the injured party must demonstrate that the dog:
- Caused a severe injury; and
- Acted without provocation.
A severe injury is defined as any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or requires multiple sutures or reconstructive surgery. Even injuries that were not caused specifically by a bite can be considered severe. For instance, if a dog knocked someone to the ground, causing him or her to break a bone, the injured party can seek compensation from the dog’s owner. If an injury does not reach the threshold of severe, an injured party may still be able to recover damages, but will be restricted to obtaining compensation to medical expenses. In these cases, an injured party only has to establish the identity of the owner to collect compensation.
If a dog has exhibited dangerous behavior in the past and bites another person, the injured party can file a claim against the owner for all damages resulting from the incident. To establish an owner’s liability, an injured party must provide evidence that:
- The dog caused the injury;
- The owner knew that the dog had caused injuries in the past or had a propensity to behave violently; and
- The injured party did not provoke the animal or trespass on the owner’s property.
Owners can be held responsible for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent injury even if a dog had never actually bit another person, as long as the victim can show that it had demonstrated vicious propensities in the past.
If a person sustains an injury as a result of an animal attack, he or she only has two years from the date of the injury to file a claim in court. A failure to file in time can result in the case being barred, which means that a victim will lose his or her opportunity to obtain compensation from the at-fault party.
How a Dedicated Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, ranging from severe lacerations to crushed bones. Many dog bite victims even retain a lifelong and debilitating fear of animals for the rest of their lives. Treating these injuries can be expensive and painful, so if you or a loved one live in Pennsylvania and were recently bitten by another person’s dog, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin by calling (215) 486-0123 and we will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal options.