Our Philadelphia Dog Bite / Attack Lawyers hold dog owners liable for injuries caused by:

  • dog bites
  • dog attacks, and
  • other aggressive dog behavior

Depending on the circumstances, a combination of Pennsylvania laws may govern damage awards in these cases. These laws include the:

  • strict liability dog bite law, and
  • negligence dog injury law

(People often refer to the negligence law as the “one-bite law.”)

A Philadelphia Dog Bite / Attack Lawyer must file these claims within two years of the date the bite or other injury occurred. If the victim was a minor when the injury occurred, the lawyer must file the claim within two years of the victim’s 18th birthday.

The circumstances of the attack and the injury itself control damages awarded in these cases. In serious dog bite cases, damages may include:

  • costs of reconstructive surgeries
  • treatment for rabies
  • medical care for other infections

Strict Liability Dog Bite Law

As long as the victim did not provoke the attack, the strict liability dog bite law holds a dog owner liable for dog bites and other injuries caused by a dog. This is true even if the attack occurred without any negligence by the owner. This means that the owner may be legally responsible if the dog:

  • has never bitten anyone before, and
  • has never shown any tendency to bite or attack

The money damages awarded to injured victims under the strict liability law will depend on the type of injury sustained by the victim.

Severe Injuries

If a victim’s injury is “severe” as defined in the statute, the owner may be liable for all of the victim’s damages. These may include:

  • medical expenses
  • pain and suffering
  • other losses resulting from the injury

The statute defines a victim’s injuries as severe if they:

  • result in broken bones, or
  • disfiguring lacerations that require multiple sutures (stitches) or cosmetic surgery

The severe injuries that can lead to a dog owner’s full damages under this law are not limited to injuries caused by bites. As an example, if a dog causes someone to fall and break a bone by jumping on or startling the person, the victim may be able to recover full damages for this “severe injury.”

Non-severe injuries

If the injuries are not “severe” (as defined in the statute), the owner may still be liable for the victim’s injuries as long as the attack was not provoked. In these cases, damages are limited to the medical costs incurred as a result of the injury.

Full Damages for Non-Severe Injuries under the State’s Negligence (One-Bite) Law

Philadelphia Dog Bite / Attack Lawyers may also be able to recover full damages for a client who sustained a non-severe dog injury. (A non-severe injury is one that does NOT result in the injuries defined as severe in the statute.) In these cases, the victim must show that the owner’s negligence was a cause of the dog’s attack.

Under the state’s negligence dog-bite law, a court may find that a dog owner negligently caused a dog attack if:

  • the owner had reason to know or suspect that the dog might bite or act aggressively
  • the owner failed to take reasonable care to prevent the attack
  • the victim was not trespassing when the attack occurred
  • the victim did not provoke the attack

A Philadelphia Dog Bite / Attack Lawyer can establish a dog owner’s negligence in a number of ways. The owner may be negligent per se under the law if the owner violated the state’s animal confinement law. This means that the plaintiff can prove the owner was negligent simply by showing that the owner:

  • failed to keep the dog from escaping from the owner’s premises, or
  • failed to keep the dog collared and leashed when the dog was out in public

Contact our Philadelphia Dog Bite / Attack Lawyers