How Do Pennsylvania Dog Laws Effect Potential Compensation ?

dog-sitting-on-leashAccording to Pennsylvania dog laws, a dog owner is responsible for at least the medical expenses of a victim. Therefore, even if you have sustained minor injuries, we recommend seeking medical attention anyway. Additional financial compensation for lost wages,  emotional trauma, and various other non-economic factors can be attainable as well in some cases. In Pennsylvania dog bite victims have 2 years to produce a lawsuit, if they are minors, the 2 year period begins on their 18th birthday. Some states currently have leash laws, Pennsylvania as a whole doesn’t require dog owners to leash canines. However, all citizens who live in the city of Philadelphia are legally required to leash their pets in public.

Dangerous Dogs, Owner Negligence, & Severity of Injuries

Additional restrictions arise for owners of “dangerous” dogs. If you own a dangerous dog, there are several rules that you must adhere to. “Dangerous” dog owners must provide child-friendly warning signs on their property, muzzle and leash their dog in public, and register their dog annually with Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Enforcement. A “dangerous” dog is a dog that has previously exhibited aggressive behavior, or previously attacked another dog or human.  If you were bitten by a “dangerous” dog, you most likely are entitled to full compensation no matter what. In typical dog bite cases, additional non-economical damages aren’t considered until owner negligence is proven. However, with a dog that has a history of aggressive behavior, lawyers do not need to prove owner negligence.

As mentioned above, in most cases, lawyers must prove owner negligence in order to pursue additional damages compensation. Similarly to the legal procedure of being bitten by a dangerous dog, if you sustained “serious” injuries, your lawyer won’t need to prove negligence. PA dog laws define “serious” as fracturing a bone or receiving 1 or more sutures. If you suffered “serious” injuries from your dog bite, you can pursue maximum compensation. Depending on the severity of a victim’s injuries, this can include pursuing compensation for non-economic damages, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. For more detailed explanations of Pennsylvania dog laws, refer to our detailed PA dog law guide here.

How Much Is My Pennsylvania Dog Bite Lawsuit Case Worth?

As mentioned on our Case Eligibility page, it is unfair to attempt to predict potential lawsuit settlements using calculators. However, thanks to the experience and expertise of our team of attorneys, we believe we can review your case and provide much-needed clarifications for victims. One of the best decisions that a victim can make after being bitten, is hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer.  By doing so victims can maximize potential compensation, and protect themselves against insurance adjusters. We actively encourage all victims that have hired an attorney, to refer all potentially liable parties to their legal counsel. Compensation is dictated by a multitude of factors, which likely will differ on a case-to-case basis.  We will explain how each factor can effect compensation in greater depth below. Before moving on, it is important to understand that most dog bite lawsuits are filed against a property owner’s homeowners insurance, and not the individual owner.

  1. Medical Expenses & Severity of Injuries: Depending on a victim’s medical expenses, and assessed injuries, they may be able to sue for maximum compensation. If an individual sustained “serious” injuries, as defined by Pennsylvania law, they may sue for additional compensation. Potential injuries considered “serious” include bone fractures, and or lacerations and cuts that require stitches.
  2. Lost Wages & Loss of Future Earnings Potential: If a victim’s injuries cause missed time from work, it is possible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for lost wages. Furthermore, in severe dog bite cases, if a victim is permanently disabled they can sue for loss of future income too.
  3. Pain & Suffering: Often times when insurance companies offer settlements to victims, they do not consider the daily emotional and physical pain that victims are commonly accustomed to. However, in Pennsylvania victims may seek damages for pain and suffering, giving juries a chance to quantify their daily pain.
  4. Emotional Distress: Dog bite attacks can be traumatizing to victims for life. For example, some victims will be tentative, or afraid around dogs for the rest of their lives. While it is also difficult to quantify, it should not be ignored when considering damages.  Psychological trauma is extremely significant to most victims, in some cases inflicting more pain then a victim’s physical injuries.
  5. Loss of Consortium: If your loved one was bitten by a dog, and is currently suffering due to their incident, you may be able to pursue additional compensation. This is not uncommon, as many loved one’s witness the event, or consistently feel the pain of their spouse.
  6. Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If your incident has permanently limited your future, you may have a case to pursue compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. These damages attempt to properly quantify the detrimental alterations that dog attacks can cause for victims. Typically compensation for loss of enjoyment of life is awarded when the victim’s quality of life is permanently altered.
  7. Punitive Damages: In most cases that include compensation for punitive damages, they are intended to more significantly punish a liable defendant. In cases involving punitive damages, a victim must prove malicious or oppressive conduct. Punitive damages compensation will benefit victims, however, they are mainly used to more adequately punish liable parties.

Contact A Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney Now

If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, we encourage you to contact our office today. One of our experienced attorneys will help you to schedule a complimentary consultation, and take the first step towards securing necessary compensation.  We believe that our wealth of prior experience offered alongside compassionate service can best serve all dog bite victims. Additionally, our attorneys will not be paid unless they secure a client a substantial settlement or court victory.