Chester County Dog and Animal Bite Injury Lawyer
Pennsylvania Dog and Animal Bites
Pennsylvania statutes outline the provisions made for dangerous dogs and the laws governing dog bites. Pennsylvania dog bite laws creates categories of victims, and, collectively, are known as the Dangerous Dog Statute. A personal injury statute of limitations is a part of the Pennsylvania dog bite laws. The statute of limitations sets deadlines on the amount of time an injured person has in which to file a lawsuit. All personal injury cases—including dog bite cases—must be filed with two years of the time the bite and subsequent injuries occurred.
We are a team of personal injury lawyers based in West Chester PA in Chester County PA and serving Philadelphia and Pennsylvania victims of dog bite injuries. Learn more about our injury lawyers and how we can help your family when you are looking for a dog bite injury lawyer after you or a family member have been injured by a dog with a history or propensity to cause injury. We serve not only Chester County for dog bite claims but also the greater Philadelphia area including Berks County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County.
What is a “Dangerous” Dog?
Under Pennsylvania law, a dangerous dog is one which has killed or injured a domestic animal (without provocation) while outside the owner’s property, a dog which injures a person on public or private property, a dog which attacks a human (without provocation), or a dog used in the commission of a crime. A victim is allowed to recover full compensation if the dog in question previously bit another person without justification, however the element showing the dog had a history or propensity of attacking humans or domestic animals without provocation must be present. Dangerous dogs must be registered as dangerous, and their owner must carry liability insurance coverage of at least $50,000 to cover personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog.
The owner of a dangerous dog must securely confine the dog, and must post a clearly visible sign on the property which states there is a dangerous dog on the property. If the dangerous dog is outside the owner’s house or enclosure, the dog must be on a substantial chain, under the control of a responsible person, and must be muzzled. Should the dog get loose, the owner of a dangerous dog must notify the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, the State Dog Warden and the local police department. If the dangerous dog is owned by a minor, any unprovoked attack on the part of the dog will be the responsibility of the minor’s parent or guardian.
Pennsylvania’s Dog Confinement and Housing Law
Pennsylvania’s dog confinement and housing law makes the owners of a dog liable for damages if they have neglected to confine their dog in their yard or house, or on a leash or chain—in some way or form, “under the reasonable control of some person.” The 1982 case of Miller v. Hurst found dog owners who violate the dog confinement law in the state of Pennsylvania will be liable for resulting injuries. This is true even if the owner was unaware the dog might act in an aggressive manner or if the dog had never exhibited aggressive behavior prior to the incident.
Pennsylvania’s Strict Liability Laws
Strick liability laws make the owner of a dog responsible for injuries caused by the dog, even if the owner was not aware the dog might bite or act in an aggressive manner. Generally speaking, the only defenses a dog owner can claim if their dog bites a person are provocation or trespassing. In other words, if the person who was bitten by the dog was provoking the dog or was willfully trespassing on the owner’s property, the dog owner may not be held liable. “Provoking” the dog could include teasing or harming the animal.
Is a Workers’ Comp Claim Appropriate Following a Dog Bite?
There are certain cases in which a Workers’ Comp claim could be appropriate following a dog bite, particularly in the case of mail carriers, delivery people or others who are required to come onto private property in order to complete their job. Such workers have the implied consent of owners to enter the property, therefore if they are bitten by a dog while on that property, they could be entitled to Workers’ Comp medical and wage replacement benefits.
Dog Bite Statistics
Each year, across the United States, as many 1,000 victims of a dog bite will require emergency care treatment. Further statistics include:
- More than three-fourths (86 percent) of all attacks by dogs will result in some level of bodily harm to the victim.
- Forty-two dog attacks resulted in death in 2014.
- Despite the fact that owing a pit bull breed of dog is regulated in more than 700 cities across the U.S., this breed contributed to 27 of those 42 fatalities.
- Overall, a full three-quarters of all fatal dog attacks which occurred between 2005 and 2014 were from Rottweiler and Pit Bull breeds.
- Children age 13 and younger, account for nearly half of all the dog bite fatalities, while among the adult group, 73 percent of dog bite fatality victims are older than 70.
- About a quarter of the dog bite fatalities in 2014 resulted in criminal charges.
- Texas leads the nation in fatal dog bites, although California is the state with the highest number of dog bite claims.
- More than a third of all homeowner insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012 were for dog attacks/dog bites, showing it is not a rare occurrence.
- More than 75 percent of the dogs who were deemed “dangerous,” belonged to the family of the victim or to a friend of the victim.
- Male dogs are much more often the perpetrators in biting incidents.
- Aside from Rottweilers and Pit Bulls, the eight remaining dog breeds deemed most likely to bite are: German Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, Wolf Hybrid, Great Dane, Chow, Chihuahua, Husky and Dachshund.
What to Do if You are Bitten by a Dog in Pennsylvania
Dog bites happen quickly, yet the aftermath of injuries related to the dog bite could potentially last a lifetime. The decisions you make in the hours, days and weeks following the incident can affect your recovery and your future. It is important you do the following as soon as possible after you have been attacked or bitten by a dog:
- • Call 911, or go immediately to a doctor or ER if you are able, following your dog bite.
- • Even if your injuries don’t appear severe, don’t take chances with your health; the most minor dog bite could become infected, leading to surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. Approximately 15 percent of all dog bites later become affected, so having a doctor take a look at your bite is always the best decision.
- • File a police report.
- • Notify the owner of the dog that you were bitten by his or her dog if you know who the owner is.
- • Consider calling the local Humane Society—sometimes this agency has information regarding whether the dog that bit you is a first time offender or has bitten before.
- • Preserve all evidence related to your dog bite. Take photographs if possible, and save any damaged or blood-stained clothing.
Getting Legal Help
If the injuries you sustained from your dog bite or dog attack are more than superficial, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced Pennsylvania dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Your Pennsylvania personal injury attorney will fight for your rights and your future, working hard to ensure you receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering associated with the incident.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Dog Bite Injury Lawyers
As the victim of a dog bite injury, it is crucial you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania dog bite injury attorney in order to ensure your rights are protected and your future holds some hope. Your attorney will be able to establish who is at fault, and what compensation you are entitled to.
The dog bite injury attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been bitten by a dog. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.