An annual survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPA) estimated that 77.8 million dogs were domesticated pets in the U.S. in 2015. Further, they stated that over 54.4 million American households own at least one dog and that under 1 percent of dog owners considered their pets as property. This is extremely alarming to our law firm since Pennsylvania law almost always holds owners responsible for the actions of their pets.
Dog bites can result in expensive medical costs, surgical procedures, and various types of mental trauma. It is extremely important for dog bite victims to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer so that they can take the first step in ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. Over 27,000 dog bite victims, each year requires reconstructive surgery, and dog bites occur as frequently as every 75 seconds in the United States.
Determining Your Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawsuit
To evaluate your potential courses of action, we encourage all dog bite victims to contact our office today. We will review the specific details of your incident, along with comparing each victim’s case to similar previous cases, before recommending future action. In some cases, we may recommend victims file a civil lawsuit, where they can secure extensive compensation in a timely manner. Our experienced team of attorneys will do everything in our power to best serve clients. We believe no client should pay out of pocket for their medical costs.
Understanding Pennsylvania Law
In several U.S. states, dog bite victims are protected by a legal doctrine known as “strict liability.” This doctrine renders dog owners liable for any injuries caused by their pet unless their pet was provoked. In states that adhere to this ruling, no other considerations are evaluated. However, Pennsylvania dog bite law is more complicated, in some cases, the state may apply “strict liability,” and in others, courts may rule differently.
Additionally, some states utilize a one bite rule which would not hold owners accountable if their pet has never previously bitten anyone or previously exhibited aggressive behavior. In those states, owners can only be pursued by a civil claim after multiple bite incidents. Pennsylvania previously used the “one bite” rule, but does not anymore. Pennsylvania law stipulates that owners should be held liable for at least a victim’s resulting medical expenses in all incidents. Even if your injuries are minor, you may still have a case towards extensive damages compensation. Regardless, as stated above, all victims are likely to secure compensation for resulting medical expenses at the bare minimum, in terms of additional reparations there are several other important factors to consider. Each factor will be explored in greater depth below.
Did You Sustain Serious Injuries?
Largely considered to be the most important details of your dog bite accident, are the injuries that resulted. Therefore, individuals who suffered more significant injuries are far more likely to be entitled to additional damages compensation. If an individual sustained a fracture or required 2 or more sutures from a dog bite accident, their injuries are considered severe. There is no variability in compensation from a dog’s past behavior. Serious injuries grant victims a sizable chance to pursue maximum compensation in all cases.
Serious injuries also are likely to result in dogs being labeled as “dangerous.” If you were bitten by a “dangerous dog,” dog owners are likely to be held to strict liability and can pursue extensive compensation. Even if a “dangerous dog” inflicts a victim with a minor injury, the victim may still be entitled to a full range of damages due to owner negligence. Once a dog is deemed “dangerous,” owners must actively protect others from their pet since owner negligence doesn’t need to be proven. To take the first step in securing maximum compensation, we encourage all victims to contact an expert dog bite attorney as soon as possible.
Dog Owner Negligence
In cases with “dangerous dogs,” victims do not need to determine negligence since it is the owner’s duty to actively deter future incidents. However, if a victim was bitten by a dog that has never previously been involved in a dog bite, owner negligence can be essential in securing full compensation. Negligence is often proved by demonstrating that a dog owner broke one of Pennsylvania’s dog laws, such as leash laws, or other handling laws.
Were You Bitten By A “Dangerous” Dog?
If your personal injury lawyer can determine that a dog has previously bitten someone, or has exhibited aggressive behavior your potential lawsuit dramatically changes. “Dangerous” dogs are held to more extensive legal regulations, and owners can be held liable for medical expenses, as well as additional damages. Previous incidents are likely documented while proving violent tendencies can result from a mixture of a dog’s breed, size, and personality. The legal doctrine of “strict liability” is applied when “dangerous” dogs are involved, regardless of owner negligence victims are likely entitled to compensation for full damages.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Each case is extremely unique, and one specific detail may change potential compensation. There is no accurate predictor of deserved compensation other than actively evaluating each victim’s individual case. The best method of predicting potential compensation stems from combining the data from prior similar cases with your specific incident. Regardless, an experienced personal injury attorney will likely garner victims with far greater compensation than they’re offered by an insurance company or liable party. Compensation is likely based on a large variety of factors which we will attempt to clarify further below.
- Medical Expenses- If you’re offered a settlement from an insurance company, it will probably be insufficient. Furthermore, it is unlikely that it covers any additional damages that may be offered via a personal injury lawsuit. Victims can use their own insurance but are at risk of their claim being rejected. Insurance companies come with an uncertainty that most victims cannot afford, which can be avoided by pursuing a civil lawsuit. With the help of a doctor and attorney, victims may determine necessary treatment and an adequate sum for damages.
- Lost Wages & Loss of Future Earnings Potential- If a victim was permanently or temporarily disabled, they may pursue compensation for current and future lost wages via a civil lawsuit.
- Pain and Suffering- Injuries can be gruesome and extremely painful. Insurance companies will not consider pain, but juries are likely to attempt to quantify it for victims.
- Emotional Distress- Psychological trauma is difficult to quantify as well, but with an experienced personal injury lawyer, juries may recognize challenges as significant damages.
- Loss of Consortium- If your loved one has suffered hardships due to your incident, they may be entitled to compensation too.
- Punitive Damages- These damages are meant to punish extraordinarily negligent dog owners, and although rarely awarded, some victims may be entitled to them.
Statute Of Limitations
Dog bite victims must file a personal injury lawsuit within 2 years of the incident date. However, if dog bite victims are minors, their 2-year window does not begin until their 18th birthday.
Contact An Attorney
Were you bitten by a dog in Pennsylvania?
Take the first step in maximizing potential compensation by contacting our law firm today. Our attorneys are pleased to offer victims a complimentary legal consultation. Additionally, our experienced team of dog bite attorneys works on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that they will not receive an attorney fee unless they deliver a winning verdict or settlement. We believe our diverse experience assisting dog bite victims for the past decade can best serve all victims.