Dog Bite Injury & Animal Attack Lawyers

Pets make us happy, relieve our stress, lower our anxiety, and help keep us active. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s annual survey, more than 71 million homes in the United States include one or more pets. We own 88 million cats, 75 million dogs, 24 million small animals, 14 million horses, and 13 million reptiles.

With so many pets sharing our homes and neighborhoods, animal attacks have become more common. Dog bites are by far the most common type of attack. About 4.7 million people are the victims of dog bites each year, most of them children.

If you or your child are seriously injured from a dog bite, we can help you bring a lawsuit to get the money that you need to pay for medical treatment of your injuries and reconstructive surgery, if necessary. Our Philadelphia attorneys are prepared to serve as your dog bite lawyer. We typically do not handle “minor” dog bite cases. Our background is in catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We use this experience to litigate cases on behalf of victims who have been severely injured, require extensive medical treatment or for families who have lost loved ones due to fatal dog attacks. Our personal injury attorneys will provide a free evaluation of the facts of your case to determine whether it is one that we can help you with. Call 800-590-4116.

The Dog Law

According to Pennsylvania’s Dog Bite Law, The Dog Law is a group of statutes that regulate dogs and provide remedies for harm that they cause. Under the Dog Law, the owner or keeper of a biting or attacking dog is legally liable for payment of all of the victim’s medical costs.

Sec. 459-502, subdivision (b): “Any cost to the victim for medical treatment resulting from an attacking or biting dog must be paid fully by the owner or keeper of the dog.”

According to Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dog Laws, 3 P.S. 459, a dog is a “dangerous dog” if:

  • the dog has injured a person, without provocation, on public or private property,
  • the dog has killed or injured a domestic animal without provocation, while off the owner’s property,
  • the dog has attacked a human being without provocation, or
  • the dog was used to commit a crime.

If the injured person suffered a severe injury (any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery), they can recover full compensation for all of the harm endured, meaning pain, suffering, disfigurement, anxiety, loss of income and future earning potential, and all else. Most states have laws that make dog owners strictly liable for all dog bites – which means that if a dog bites you, the dog’s owner is responsible. However, Pennsylvania requires the injured victim to show that the dog was vicious, the dog’s owner was negligent, or the dog’s owner caused the bite or attack by violating an animal control law (i.e. the dog was not on a leash at the time, therefore violating the state’s leash law). In Pennsylvania, the injured party must show that the dog owner made some kind of mistake, such as:

  • Failing to keep a dog restrained
  • Failing to warn others of a dog’s known dangerous propensity or aggressive disposition
  • Failing to keep a dog known to be dangerous away from others

In every state, a dog owner will be held responsible if he or she knew, before the biting incident, that his or her dog had a tendency to bite people without provocation. Our team of lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell have specialized knowledge and experience in handling claims involving dog bite injuries or animal attacks.

Strict Liability Dog Bite Law in Pennsylvania

In Miller v. Hurst, 302 Pa. Super. 235, 448 A.2d 614 (1982), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that if a dog owner is found to have violated Pennsylvania’s dog confinement law, the owner is liable for any injuries that result, even if the owner had no way to know that the dog would act aggressively or had ever acted aggressively before. In Commonwealth v. Hake, 738 A.2nd 46 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1999), the court held that the dog’s owner is liable if the dog injures a person without provocation, on public or private property, even if the dog has no history or propensity of attacking people or other animals. What both these cases have in common is the application of “strict liability.” In “strict liability” dog bite states, a dog’s owner is responsible for injuries the dog causes, even if the dog has never bitten or acted aggressively before, and even if the owner had no idea the dog would bite or act aggressively.

Defenses in a Pennsylvania Dog Bite Case

A Pennsylvania dog owner typically has two defenses to a dog bite claim: provocation and trespassing. Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws specify that in order for the owner to be held liable for injuries, the dog must have caused injury “without provocation.” If the dog owner can show that the injured person provoked the dog, the owner may not be held liable. In addition, an owner may not be liable if the injured person was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the bite. Section 459-507-A of the Pennsylvania code specifies that Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws do not apply if the injured person was committing a “willful trespass” at the time of the injury. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury or animal attack because of another person’s negligence, you have rights that entitle you to financial compensation for you or a loved one’s injuries. Don’t hesitate to contact our team today by filling out our form or calling 1-800-590-4116. We are hard-working lawyers for hard-working people.

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