Most dog lovers consider their canines part of the family. However, even the best-behaved dog can become aggressive and cause injury to others. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a dog bite, it is important to understand the nuances of Pennsylvania law and how it may apply in your case.
Pennsylvania Dog Bite Law
Hiring a skilled injury lawyer is vital if you are pursuing a dog bite claim. These types of cases often involve complex legal issues and may require extensive investigation.
Pennsylvania law requires owners and caretakers to retain reasonable control over their dogs at all times. This means that owners should confine their dogs on their premises and take extra precautions to prevent them from escaping. Even if there is no leash law in a particular town or area, if an unleashed dog causes injury or damage, the owner is typically liable.
In any personal injury claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. An injured victim may be able to recover compensation by proving that a dog owner violated Pennsylvania’s dog confinement or dangerous dog statute, but most dog bite claims can be considered what is known as a common law negligence claim. In these types of cases, the following elements must be proven by the plaintiff:
- The defendant had a duty of care to follow a certain legal standard of conduct to protect others from unreasonable risks
- The defendant failed to conform to the required standard
- The defendant’s actions (or inaction) resulted in the plaintiff being injured
- The plaintiff suffered damages or losses
Recovering Compensation in a Pennsylvania Dog Bite Case
Even if your dog bite case seems straightforward, seeking the counsel of a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who understands how to prove negligence in a dog bite case can help to ensure you recover the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies cover damages for dog bites and other animal attacks, but insurers do everything they can to offer minimal settlements or to deny claims.
An insurance adjuster or attorney may attempt to blame the dog bite on the victim and claim that the injured person was hurt because they “provoked” the dog. There are all kinds of underhanded tactics they may use to avoid liability. Some policies have exclusions that do not cover injuries caused by certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls and rottweilers. In these types of cases, you may have to sue the dog owner directly instead of filing a claim with their insurance company.
An Attorney Will Accurately Value Your Dog Bite Claim
Dog attacks can result in long-term physical injuries and mental conditions. Victims who suffer from scarring, disfigurement, or chronic pain often deal with conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety as well, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life. Treatment for these types of injuries often comes at a high financial and emotional cost. The best accident attorneys know how to calculate these damages correctly. If you attempt to go it alone, you may find that the settlement you receive is not enough to cover the cost of medical care and loss of income, let alone provide compensation for damages like pain and suffering or emotional distress.