Seeing a dog while you walk down the street is a common sight across the country. If you are like most people, you probably will not bat an eye to see a docile, four-legged creature walking at the end of a leash. However, dog attacks are far more common than most people realize.
In fact, the United States Postal Service recently announced a partnership with the PAWS Program to place dog paw stickers on Philadelphia mailboxes if a dog is known to live there, in an ongoing effort to prevent mail carriers from being attacked by dogs while they make deliveries. The stickers are intended to remind mail carriers to proceed with caution when delivering mail in that area.
A dog bite can cause excruciating pain and disfiguring injuries. If you are the victim of a canine attack, hiring a dog bite attorney to be on your side can make a big difference when it comes to getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Some of the most common injuries resulting from dog attacks include broken bones, facial injuries, puncture wounds, lacerations, and other soft tissue damage. Some victims are scarred or disfigured for life as a result of their ordeal.
An owner’s responsibility for their animal is quite clear under Pennsylvania law. If another person’s dog has bitten you, contact a dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible to improve your chances of receiving the compensation you need. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us right away to learn how we can assist you in the aftermath of a dog bite injury.
Liability for Dog Bites in Philadelphia
Let’s start with the so-called one bite rule.
Under the one bite rule, the owner is liable for the attack if they knew or should have known that the animal might act in a dangerous or harmful way. This theory comes from the notion that an animal gets one free bite. After that, the owner is aware of and responsible for the animal’s vicious propensities.
This rule, however, is misleading. Victims who can demonstrate that the dog owner was aware that the biting dog was previously aggressive and potentially dangerous may be eligible for compensation, even if the dog had never bitten or attacked before. Here are a few important points you should consider:
- The victim of a dog bite is required to show that the dog owner was negligent. This may mean that the dog owner ignored information that could have prevented the bite, such as previous attacks or aggressive behavior.
- Pennsylvania courts are unlikely to hold a dog’s owner liable for a bite from a dog that was adequately restrained and previously docile.
- To avoid liability, a dog’s owner or handler can use a variety of defenses, including provocation, comparative negligence, and assumption of risk.
If an irresponsible dog owner’s negligence contributed to your injury, they should be held accountable. Dog bite victims younger than age 18 must file their claim within two years of turning 18.
Under Pennsylvania’s leash law, dogs are required to be under regular and adequate control. This means that they must be kept on their owner’s property, on a leash, or under the owner’s or a third party’s control. If a victim can prove that the owner violated the leash law and that the breach resulted in the dog attack, the owner may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
Dog bites cases are handled in several ways.
Some homeowner’s insurance policies, for example, cover damages resulting from dog bites that occur on the dog owner’s property. You can file a personal injury case in Pennsylvania civil court if an insurance claim is insufficient to resolve the matter.
However, filing a lawsuit does not guarantee that your case will go to trial. Dog bite lawsuits go through several stages, often including several rounds of settlement negotiations. Fortunately, our lawyers are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies as well as other litigants. We can fight for the total amount you deserve for your dog bite-related losses, and we can handle your lawsuit from start to end.
Injuries Caused By Dog Bites
Let’s go over some of the common injuries that dog bite victims suffer:
- Infections: Infections are the most common side effect of dog bites, and they can be far more dangerous than the physical wounds themselves. The idea that a dog’s mouth is impenetrably clean is a myth, and a dog bite can transfer a variety of bacteria. Some dog bite wounds are complicated to clean entirely by oneself.
As a puncture wound heals, it may close and trap bacteria deep inside. This can lead to a severe, potentially fatal infection. Due to the risk of disease from a dog bite, it is important to have your wounds cleaned and treated by a medical professional. If you get an infection from a dog bite, you may face a lengthy hospital stay and require ongoing treatment for months.
- Disfigurement: A severe dog attack also poses the risk of permanent disfigurement. If a small child is bitten on the face, for example, they may have permanent scars for the rest of their lives. Dogs have powerful jaws that can easily injure a person in a violent attack. A dog bite can also result in the loss of fingers, toes, or even limbs in some cases.
- Psychological trauma: It is not uncommon for dog bite victims to suffer severe emotional and psychological trauma resulting from the attack. A traumatic event like this can easily lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can manifest itself in various ways, including violent nightmares and flashbacks to the attack, avoidance of any triggers, and irrational fears.
- Physical wounds: Severe dog bites can result in severed veins, arteries, muscles, or tendons, especially if the dog latches on and refuses to let go. Victims may suffer long-term injuries and take a long time to recover.
Do I Need a Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney to Seek Compensation?
It is a good idea to hire a lawyer if you are the victim of a dog attack, because a dog bite case is not always as straightforward as it may appear. The one-bite rule and elements of negligence can make it complicated to prove a dog owner’s or handler’s responsibility. Protect yourself by consulting with our dog bite lawyer, who has what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve and help you move on from your bad experience.
Do not believe anyone who claims that you can handle a dog bite case as well as a lawyer. In our experience, attempting to represent yourself in a damages claim almost always results in a financial loss for the victim.
When to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim in Philadelphia
Victims of dog bite injuries in Philadelphia only have a limited amount of time in which they may file a lawsuit against the person who is responsible for their injuries. In most cases, the personal injury statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is two years from the date of the damage. Therefore, dog bite victims in Philadelphia have a two-year window to file a lawsuit against a negligent dog owner. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this time frame, you may lose the right to seek compensation for your losses.
Dog bite victims frequently receive compensation through homeowner’s insurance settlements. However, if victims do not file these claims as soon as possible after the injury occurs, the insurance carrier may delay or deny the claim.
Contact Our Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorneys Today
The aftermath of a dog attack can be a nightmare for the victim and their family. If you have been injured due to a dog owner’s negligence, we recommend that you seek legal help right away.
When dogs leave their owner’s property in Pennsylvania, they should generally be restrained in some way or on a leash. Dog bites often occur when owners allow their dogs to roam freely, resulting in dog bite victims’ broken bones, deep bruises, cuts, and other wounds. In the end, victims often need psychological treatment, plastic surgery, physical therapy, and even rabies treatment.
Our experienced PA dog bite lawyers can answer your questions, walk you through the legal procedure, and help you pursue the compensation that you deserve.
Philadelphia Dog Bite FAQ
Who is legally responsible when a dog bites someone in Philadelphia?
In most situations, the owner of the dog is liable when the dog bites someone in Philadelphia. Even if the owner had no prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies, they may be legally responsible for dog bite injuries that their pet causes. This rule usually does not apply to military and police dogs acting in the line of duty. However, every rule has exceptions, so it is important to consult a Philadelphia dog bite lawyer if a dog has injured you or a loved one.
I was attacked by a dog in Philadelphia. What damages can I recover?
If you were injured in a Philadelphia dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Expenses for emergency room treatment, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, prescription medication, physician services, surgical services, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
- Non-medical expenses that you incurred as a result of a dog bite injury
- Lost wages and lost future earnings that you incurred when a dog bite injury prevented you from being able to work
How can I recover compensation for the Philadelphia dog bite I sustained?
In general, victims of dog bites in Pennsylvania have the legal right to:
- Obtain compensation through their own insurance policies
- Obtain compensation through legal action against the dog owner or any other party legally liable for the dog’s actions, which may result in payment from the owner’s liability insurance policy