At The Levin Firm, our Feasterville, PA dog bite attorneys know that dogs – while often loving, protective, and friendly – also have the potential to be dangerous. During our more than decade’s worth of experience, we have represented the victims of serious dog bites, and have seen firsthand how catastrophic these injuries can be. If a dog bites you or a loved one in Feasterville or surrounding areas, contact our aggressive dog bite attorneys today for a free consultation about your case.
The One-Bite Rule
Because no two dog bites are the same, the state of Pennsylvania allows victims of dog bites to seek different remedies depending upon two factors: first, whether or not the dog has bitten anyone in the past, and is therefore considered “dangerous”; and second, the degree of injury suffered by the victim. In this section, the former – any viciousness of the dog – will be considered.
The system of dog owner liability that is dependent on whether or not a dog has attacked anyone in the past is commonly referred to as the “one-bite rule.” As its name implies, the one-bite rule suggests that a dog gets one “free” bite; once the dog has bitten someone, it is considered dangerous, and its owner will be liable for any subsequent bites that occur. In addition to facing civil penalties and being liable for damages sustained by the dog bite victim, Pennsylvania law section 459-505(a.1) also reads that if a dog that is known to be dangerous bites another as a result of the dog owner’s negligence, or reckless or intentional conduct, the dog owner will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
It should be noted that liability under the one-bite law does not apply if the victim of the bite was “committing a willful trespass,” was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or had done so in the past, or was committing a crime at the time of the bite.
Liability When a Dog Has Not Attacked in the Past
The state of Pennsylvania recognizes that in some cases, a dog that has never attacked in the past may, for whatever reason, bite or jump at someone, leading to serious injuries. As such, if a dog is not considered dangerous and causes harm to someone else, the state considers whether injuries sustained were “severe” or not. A severe injury, as defined by Pennsylvania code, is one that causes broken bones or disfiguring lacerations that require cosmetic surgery to correct.
If an injury is severe, a claim may be filed against the owner of the dog to recover the full extent of damages suffered by the claimant, including pain and suffering. The dog owner must prove that the dog attacked without provocation.
Dog bite victims who are not severely injured are also provided some protections under the law. While these victims cannot file strict liability claims for damages for pain and suffering (although a negligence-based claim for such damages is permitted), they can hold the owner of the dog liable for their medical expenses. This is found in section 459-502 of the dog bite law.
Recovering Compensation after a Dog Bite
Whether pursuing damages under the one-bite theory of liability, because you suffered a severe injury as a result of a dog, or to recover medical expenses for any injury resulting from a dog bite, you must prove that you were not provoking or harassing the dog at the time of the attack. If you were provoking the dog when you were attacked, you will be unable to pursue compensation. You will also likely need to prove that you were not trespassing at the time of attack, as this too can bar you from recovering compensation.
Filing a Negligence Based Claim
The recovery types above are governed by Pennsylvania statute. However, you may also file a negligence-based claim against the owner of a dog that bites you. A negligence-based claim would hold that the dog attack would not have occurred but for the negligence of the dog’s owner. When filing a negligence-based claim in the personal injury system, you may seek compensation for the full extent of your damages, both economic and noneconomic.
Statute of Limitations
You only have so much time to file a dog bite claim in Pennsylvania – two years from the date of the cause of action (date of dog bite). If you wait longer than two years’ time to bring forth your claim, you will be prevented from bringing forth your action and recovering compensation at all.
How Our Feasterville, PA Dog Bite Attorneys Can Help
Because there are three different categories of dog bites and dog bite victims in Pennsylvania, and three different set of laws that apply to each, knowing how to recover compensation for your injuries sustained during a dog attack can be confusing. You may be unsure whether or not the dog involved in your case had previously been deemed “dangerous,” or may have questions about what constitutes trespassing, or be unsure of whether or not the dog owner’s committed an act of negligence. All of these issues can be overwhelming, especially when you are in the process of recovering from the physical and psychological effects of a dog attack.
At The Levin Firm, our Feasterville, PA dog bite attorneys are committed to helping you. We have the experience that you are looking for in a dog bite lawyer, and know how to bring forth successful dog bite claims. We will not only investigate your dog bite and organize all paperwork and documents essential to the filing of your claim, but we will also negotiate with the other party in order to maximize your damages award. While uncommon, we will even be prepared to take your case to court if a settlement cannot be reached.
Contact Us Today
Our talented Feasterville, PA dog bite attorneys are here for you. Living with the effects of a dog bite can be challenging – we want to help you secure the financial award you need to compensate you for the full extent of your losses and help you to move forward in life.
Our lawyers are ready to talk today. You can request your free consultation by sending us a message about your case, or by calling our law offices directly. We are here to support and advocate for you.
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