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Did the Dog Have a Bad History of Aggression?

June 12, 2018

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Dog bites are quite common in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Millions of dog bites are treated in hospitals and at home every year, and while most only require some neosporin and a bandage, some are more serious. A dog’s saliva, like our own, is packed full of bacteria that can lead to dangerous infections as well as amputation if the wound is not properly treated and dressed. Serious attacks can end with dozens or hundreds of stitches, disfigurement, blindness, amputation, disability, or a life-long fear of dogs. If you or your child were bitten or attacked, you may be able to recover some of the financial damages that you have suffered as a result. These financial damages can be recovered by the dog’s owner, whether or not they are a friend, family member, neighbor, or stranger. Because of their failed attempt to keep their dog under control, or their complete lack of responsibility all together, you suffered a serious injury, medical expenses, lost wages, and severe pain and suffering as a result, and you should not be held responsible for paying these expenses.

What is a Dangerous Dog?

While pit bulls are responsible for more than half of all dog attack deaths each year, a new study found that a better predictor of a dog’s aggression is not their breed, but the characteristics of their owner, as reported in the Smithsonian. Dogs owned by people under 25 years of age vs. 40 years old or older, dogs that were not trained in a puppy training class, and dogs that were trained by their owners with negative reinforcement and punishment (as opposed to positive reinforcement) were all more likely to be aggressive to strangers and family members. Dangerous dogs, be they pitbulls or golden retrievers, are more likely to attack a person unprovoked. An owner of a dog categorized as a “dangerous dog” is beholden by Pennsylvania law to provide special enclosing, identification, and registration of that dog. “Dangerous dogs” have:

  • Been used in the commission of a crime; or
  • Killed, attacked, or harmed a human or domesticated animal in the past without being provoked.

Proving That You Did Not Provoke the Dog

Under Chapter 72 of Pennsylvania Dog Law, the owner of any dog can be held liable for the injuries of another person if their dog attacked the victim unprovoked. Proving that you were attacked without provoking the dog to do so can be difficult if you were rough housing with the dog or the owner fabricates a different story about what happened. If it is found by the court that you did provoke the dog, or simply that your version of the story was not believed, you may not be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Because of this, it is vital that you work with an experienced lawyer.

A Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney Can Help

Showing that the dog was a dangerous dog or had a history of aggressive behavior can go a long way in proving that the attack was not provoked. In order to be compensated for the full costs of your injuries and other damages, contact the Philadelphia law offices of van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today.



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