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Defenses To Dog Bite Claims In Pennsylvania

October 05, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

A celebrity dog trainer is in the middle of a lawsuit in which a promising young gymnast is claiming his dog attacked her while in a building the dog trainer owns. Now, suffering from the pain in her legs, the plaintiff is arguing that she can no longer compete. The lawsuit also states that the dog mauled a famous random artist’s dog to death, and that the dog trainer tried to cover it up. The dog trainer is arguing that the young girl was negligent, and that led to the dog biting her.

The story is a sad one for everyone involved, but it raises an interesting point. While injured individuals can file a claim against dog owners after being attacked, the owner of the animal is going to raise several defenses of their own. If you are filing a dog bite claim, it is important to know what those defenses are, so you can prepare to refute them.

The Dog Escaped from a Properly Fenced Yard

This is one of the more difficult defenses to raise because dog owners are expected to maintain control over their animal at all times. However, if the dog owner can show that they had a proper fence to restrain the dog, but the animal escaped anyway and injured someone, it may shield them from some degree of liability. This is due to the fact that the dog owner did not violate the leash laws of the state.

You Were Trespassing at the Time

Generally speaking, dog owners are shielded from liability if someone is trespassing on their property and their dog bites them as a result. The law recognizes that property owners, and their dogs, have a right to protect their premises and so trespassers usually cannot file a dog bite claim.

You Provoked the Dog

Even if you are not on the dog’s property, if you provoke the dog in any other way, it can provide a defense for the dog owner. For example, if you hit the dog or shook your finger in the dog’s face, it could cause the dog to become aggressive and violent. Provocation is one of the most common defenses used in dog bite claims.

You Voluntarily Assumed a Risk of Being Hurt

This defense is typically used when dogs bite veterinarians or others that are caring for it, such as a dog walker. These parties sometimes voluntarily assume a risk of being hurt. For example, a vet that has to give a dog a vaccination shot may be bitten. Or, a dog owner may warn a dog walker that the dog is aggressive and should be muzzled. If the dog walker did not follow those instructions, they assume a risk of being hurt and that could serve as a defense.

Our Dog Bite Lawyers in Philadelphia Can Fight These Defenses

Just because a dog owner raises a certain defense during your claim does not mean they will be successful with it. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Philadelphia dog bite lawyers can refute the claims of the defendant to give you the best chance of recovering the fair settlement you deserve. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


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