There is no way of knowing how a dog will react at any given point in time. Dogs are unpredictable by nature. They’re merely animals, after all, even when we dress them in doggie sweaters and treat them as true members of the family. Even the most obedient, well-trained dogs have the potential to become snarling, aggressive nightmares on four legs if the right conditions exist. Moreover, it is not unusual to learn that a dog that was a so-called “big baby” ends up attacking someone out of the blue with no warning and no provocation on the victim’s part. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you have legal options for financial recourse. Our Doylestown dog attack attorney can help you file a claim to recoup your losses.
Dog Bite Liability
In Pennsylvania, dog owners are found “strictly liable” for the injuries that their dogs cause, and this liability extends to whether or not the dog has been aggressive in the past or regardless of whether the animal was restrained when the attack occurred. However, two exceptions to strict liability exist: if the victim is a trespasser on the property where the attack occurs or if the victim provokes the animal, causing it to become aggressive.
Still, if the dog has never bitten before and previously not considered to be dangerous, then the injuries that result are classified as severe or non-severe. Disfiguring lacerations and broken bones or injuries that require surgical correction or multiple stitches fall under the state’s definition of severe. In this instance, you have grounds for a dog attack claim and may be able to recoup damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and so on. However, if the injuries are not severe, you can only hold the owner accountable for your medical bills.
If the dog has bitten in the past, then it is likely already labeled as a dangerous dog. If at least one of the following holds true for the dog in question, then the dog meets the criteria for a dangerous dog:
- Inflicted severe injuries in the past
- Killed or injured another animal with no provocation
- Attacked a person with no provocation
- Used as an accessory during the commission of a crime
Once the dog has received the “dangerous” label, then the owner must register his dog as such. In addition, he must carry property liability insurance in an amount not less than $50,000. He must fence in his yard or provide a secure enclosure for the animal, and he must display prominent signs noting the presence of a dangerous dog. When off the property with the dog, dangerous dog owners must keep their dogs not only restrained but also muzzled. Authorities must be immediately notified if the dog gets loose or attacks someone, including other animals, or if the dog is sold to someone else or if it dies. As you can see, the state of Pennsylvania takes dangerous dogs seriously.
Don’t delay in seeking out justice if you have been attacked by a dog. Our Doylestown dog attack attorney can review your case and help you understand the legal options available to you.