Lancaster Dog & Animal Bite Lawyers
Dog Bites and Animal Attacks in Lancaster
It has often been said that a dog is a man’s best friend. However, not all dogs are friendly and some can be extremely dangerous. In fact, 4.5 million people suffer from a serious dog bite injury every year. Of those injuries, 20% will become infected and result in serious medical complications, pain and suffering, and even death. Sadly, many victims of dog bites are children between the ages of five and nine. When children are bitten by a dog or another animal, they are more vulnerable to serious infections and long-term disfigurement that could alter the course of their lives forever.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster dog bite injury lawyers know how devastating a dog bite injury can truly be. We also know that the pet owner has a responsibility to keep their dog from harming others. When they fail in this duty, they can be held accountable for their dog’s actions. No matter where you live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, we are here to help. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.
Understanding Dog Bite Injuries in Lancaster
In 2016, the number of insurance claims for dog bites increased by 18%, according to a report by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. These 18,123 dog bite claims cost insurance companies over $612.5 million in payouts and represented one-third of all homeowner liability claims. Pennsylvania was fourth in the nation in dog bite claims in 2016 with a staggering 988 dog bite injuries each year. The average liability claim for those bites was $24,898.
The U.S. Postal Service also keeps track of the number of mail carriers bitten by dogs each year. Last year, that number was 6,775 nationwide. They ranked Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as 14th on the list of top cities for dog bites. Overall, there were 114 cases of mail carriers bitten by dogs in the state of Pennsylvania and three of those occurred in Lancaster.
Lancaster, Pennsylvania Dog Bite Laws
Dog owners in Lancaster are legally required to keep their dog in a house, a yard, on a leash or under reasonable control of some person. This is Pennsylvania’s dog confinement and housing law and it was enacted to protect residents in the community from dangerous dog attacks.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a dog owner who violates Pennsylvania’s dog confinement law is liable for any injuries their dog caused, even if the owner had no reason to believe that their dog would act aggressively. In addition, the court held that the dog owner is liable if their dog injures a person without provocation, on either public or private property, even if the dog had no history of biting or attacking others. This is known as strict liability and unlike other states, there is no “one bite” rule. As such, even if a dog never displayed acts of violence or aggression before, their owner is still legally responsible for the injuries their dog caused.
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, dogs that inflict serious harm or injury on another human being are considered to be a risk or a threat to attack again. These dogs are eligible to be placed on the “Dangerous Dogs List” – a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture list of dogs in the community who have already shown a dangerous propensity to attack. In Lancaster County, there are currently 15 dogs on that list. When a dog bites another person and inflicts injury, the police will issue a citation with the district court. The magisterial judge will then determine whether this dog is a danger to the community. Owners whose pets have attacked other people will receive a citation. The owner then has 30 days to have their dog added to the list of dangerous dogs by registering their dog with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the Department of Agriculture. The dog owner is then required by law to have liability insurance in the amount of at least $50,000 and pay an annual fee of $500 to keep their dog registered for as long as the dog is alive.
Dog Bite Injury Victims Need Compensation
Dog bites can be serious and can result in significant injury and long-term damage. In 2015 alone, 28,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery because of a vicious dog bite attack. Between 1993 and 2008, canine-related hospitalization stays increased 86%, with an average hospital cost of $18,200 per victim. The high cost of hospitalization is just one of the expenses injured dog bite victims will need to be compensated for. In addition to lengthy hospitalizations and surgeries, dog bite victims in Lancaster will need to seek compensation for rehabilitation, prosthetic devices, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
In 2017, dog bite claims rose even more (11.5%) with an average payout of $37,051. Nationally, the average cost per claim has risen more than 90% from 2003 to 2017. This is likely due to increased medical costs, as well as the increase in settlements, judgments and jury awards given to injured plaintiffs.
Injured dog bite victims in Lancaster may find themselves fighting an uphill battle with insurance companies in order to collect the money they need to recover. The insurance company may try to claim that your injuries are not as severe as you claim them to be or that you provoked the dog to attack in some way. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster dog bite attorneys will fight aggressively for your rights to compensation after a tragic dog bite injury. We know that these injuries can destroy your life and jeopardize your future. That’s why we work tirelessly for you from the very start.
Top Dangerous Dog Breeds
Some breeds just seem to have a natural propensity to be aggressive. Although many dog experts caution against outright breed bans, some cities, townships, and counties in Pennsylvania have banned specific breeds that they’ve determined to be a threat to the community. The Borough of Collingdale and the Borough of Glenolden, for example, both restrict pit bulls in the community.
While many animal experts and trainers agree that there are no bad dog breeds just bad dog owners, there are some breeds that have historically been more aggressive. According to Forbes, the most dangerous dog breeds in the United States include:
- Pit Bulls – the Pit Bull is responsible for the most fatal attacks in the U.S. over a 13 year period between 2005 and 2017, Pit Bulls killed 284 people, accounting for 66% of the total dog bite fatalities.
- Rottweiler – the Rottweiler came in second for the most fatal attacks in the country. There were 45 fatal attacks during that same time period.
- German Shepherd – the German Shepherd came in third with 20 fatal attacks in the same 13 year period.
- Mixed Breeds – mixed breed dogs are also dangerous and caused 17 fatalities.
- American Bulldog – the American Bulldog was responsible for 15 fatal attacks between 2005 and 2017.
Other Animal Attacks
Dogs are not the only pets that can attack, and pet owners are responsible for all of their pets’ actions. People who own or keep wild animals are subject to strict liability in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Keeping a wild animal is inherently dangerous and even if the pet owner goes to extreme lengths to keep that animal caged or controlled, they can be held liable if their pet does injure someone. Some types of animals that could attack or harm others in Lancaster include:
- Wild cats
Our Lancaster Dog Bite Injury Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster County dog bite injury attorneys are here to help you after a traumatic dog bite or animal attack. Dog bite injuries can be severe and disfiguring and cause a lifetime of pain and suffering. That’s why we work diligently and efficiently for our injured clients from the moment they step into our offices. Our injury attorneys are proud to represent all injured Lancaster County residents, including those living in Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, and Reamstown.
Contact Our Lancaster Dog Bite Injury Attorneys Today
No matter where you’re injured in Lancaster County, our dog bite injury attorneys are here to help you. We believe that all injured dog bite victims deserve justice and that negligent pet owners should be held responsible for the actions of their pets. To better serve you, we offer all our services on a contingency basis. That means you owe us nothing unless we win your case. We also offer a FREE initial consultation and review of your case, and we take the time to listen to you and your concerns before offering any legal advice. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.