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Montgomery County Dog Bite Attorney

Norristown-PA-Dog-Bite-AttorneyDog owners have a legal responsibility to protect others from any dangers posed by their animal. If they fail to live up to that responsibility, extremely serious injuries can occur. Indeed, according to a study put forth by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, dog attacks send approximately 300,000 people to the emergency room every year. Dog bites can be devastating, particularly for at-risk victims such as young children or senior citizens. If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, you need to contact a Norristown dog bite attorney immediately. Your attorney will be able to assess your claim, investigate your case and determine the precise steps that need to be taken in order to protect your legal rights and financial interests.

Dogs Bites Always Require Medical Attention

If your skin has been punctured by a dog’s mouth or its claws, you need to get yourself to the doctor for a comprehensive medical exam. Of course, if you suffered a very severe injury in the initial attack, then emergency assistance is desperately needed. Dog attacks can lead to a wide array of very serious injuries, including:

  • Deep lacerations;
  • Substantial blood loss;
  • Torn muscles;
  • Ligament damages;
  • Eye injuries;
  • Broken bones;
  • Severe nerve or tissue damage; and
  • Intense psychological trauma.

Additionally, even if you believe your injuries to be relatively minor, you still need to get yourself checked out by a medical professional. This is critically important because of the fact that dog bites pose a tremendous infection risk. Even a seemingly minor puncture wound can turn into something far worse. All too often, dog bites lead to nasty infections. In fact, according to the data provided in the aforementioned Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project study, infections are the single most common dog bite injury that lead to overnight hospital stays.

Pennsylvania Dog Bite Liability and Lawsuits

Strict Liability

From seminal Pennsylvania dog bite cases such as Commonwealth v. Hake, the state’s common law has developed to hold dog owners strictly liable for damages caused by their animal. Indeed, in most cases, dog bite victims will need to prove only two things to hold a dog owner liable:

  1. The extent of their injuries; and
  2. That the defendant actually owned the animal.

From there, most dog bite claims move onto the issue of ‘severity’. When a victim’s dog attack injuries are considered to be severe, then they can seek compensation for the full extent of their damages. This includes compensation for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. However, when dog bite injuries are deemed to be ‘not severe’, victims are limited to seeking compensation for direct medical expenses. Section 102 of the Pennsylvania dog bite law defines a severe injury as one that results in either a broken bone or disfigurement or lacerations that require surgery.

The Dangerous Dog Law

Beyond the state’s common law, Pennsylvania also has a dangerous dog statute. In ‘dangerous dog cases’ the rules are a bit different, and heightened legal responsibilities are put on dog owners. A dangerous dog is any animal that has previously;

  • Killed or injured a pet without provocation, while off the owner’s property; or
  • Attacked a human without provocation.

In dangerous dog cases, the severity of one’s injuries is not a relevant legal issue. A dangerous dog owner can be held responsible for damages beyond medical expenses regardless of how severe the underlying injuries are.

Confinement Laws

Finally, Pennsylvania also has dog confinement laws. Essentially, these laws require owners to keep control of their animal. Dogs should be kept in a home, a fenced-in yard, or under control of a person while on a leash. If a dog attack occurs off of a person’s own property, while the dog was not properly controlled, then, the dog owner can be held liable for a victim’s full damages, regardless of the severity of the victim’s injuries. 

A Note on Dog Bite Defenses

In general, there are two ways for a defendant to prevail in a civil dog bite lawsuit:

  1. Disproving the plaintiff’s case: First, the defendant can simply assert that the dog bite victim did not prove their case. For example, if the dog bite victim cannot prove that they actually suffered any injuries, the defendant can prevail on those grounds.
  2. Offering an affirmative defense: The second way for a defendant to prevail in a dog bite case is to raise a valid affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is essentially a way to ‘one up’ the plaintiff. It acknowledges that the dog bite victim ‘proved’ their case, but it asserts that the victims still cannot recover compensation because of an additional fact. In Pennsylvania, there are two affirmative defenses available in dog bite cases: trespassing and provocation. If the victim ‘provoked the attack’ or if they were ‘willfully trespassing’ at the time of the attack, then the defendant may not be held liable for any resulting damages.

Dog Bite Victims May Be Entitled to Significant Compensation

Ultimately, the value of a dog bite injury claim will always depend on the specific circumstances of the case. In Pennsylvania, dog bite victims who suffer severe injuries, were attacked by a dangerous dog, or were attacked by an unleashed dog are generally entitled to be made ‘whole’. In other words, these victims should be placed in the same position that they would have been in had no dog attack ever occurred. Of course, that is not literally possible. The psychological trauma that comes from a dog attack cannot simply be reversed. As such, Montgomery County dog bite victims may seek financial compensation that is equivalent in value to their damages. More specifically, our Philadelphia dog bite injury lawyers can help you seek compensation for:

  • All medical bills, including expenses associated with rehabilitation;
  • Mental health counseling and therapy;
  • Lost wages and future lost income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotion distress;
  • Disfigurement; and
  • Punitive damages.

Contact an Experienced Montgomery County Dog Bite Attorney Today

At The Levin Firm, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling dog bite claims in Southeastern Pennsylvania. If you have been injured by a dog, please do not hesitate to contact our Norristown office today at (267) 427-2620 to schedule a free review of your case. Our attorneys are standing by, ready to help you seek the full and fair compensation you rightfully deserve.

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