Experienced Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorney
Dog bites occur every 75 seconds in the United States with over 1,000 people seeking emergency medical treatment every day. Dog Bite Attorney Keith J. Williams knows a dog bite can lead to a wide range of injuries, including scratches, deep open cuts, puncture wounds, crush injuries, and more.
If you’ve been attacked or bitten by a dog you need an experienced dog bite attorney that will fight for your rights and get you the maximum compensation you deserve. With a proven record of outstanding settlements and awards for his clients, Bucks County personal injury attorney Keith J. Williams can help.
Pennsylvania’s Dog Bite Statute
Pennsylvania law specifically sets out a dog owner’s potential liability for bites and other incidents where their dog injures someone or otherwise causes damage based on the severity of the bite and whether the dog has behaved dangerously in the past. Pennsylvania’s dog bite statutes apply only if the dog has not bitten or injured anyone in the past. Bucks County Dog Bite Attorney Keith J. Williams has experience with cases such as this and can answer any questions you may have.
If the dog has never bitten a person before:
If the dog has never bitten a person before, the statute first looks at whether the injury was “severe” or “non-severe.” Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws defines a “severe injury” as “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.” A person who suffers a severe injury may file a claim against the dog’s owner for medical expenses, for any other losses suffered as a result of the bite, and for legal damages.
To establish a dog bite claim for a severe injury, the injured person must show:
• the dog caused a “severe injury,” and
• the dog acted without provocation.
The “severe injury” law is not limited to dog bites. It also covers other situations in which a dog might cause severe injury. For instance, if a dog leaps on a passing pedestrian and knocks her to the ground, breaking her wrist, the pedestrian may seek damages from the dog’s owner for a severe injury.
If the injured person does not suffer a “severe injury” as the Pennsylvania law defines it, he or she may still file a lawsuit seeking damages from the owner of the dog. However, the suit may only seek to recoup the costs of medical care for the injury. The injured person can’t get compensation for “pain and suffering” and other kinds of damages.
Pennsylvania’s “One Bite” Rule
If the dog has bitten, injured, or tried to cause harm in the past, and it later bites another person, that person may sue the dog’s owner for all losses and damages resulting from the bite.
To establish a “one bite” claim in court, the injured person will have to show:
- the dog caused an injury
- the owner knew that the dog had a history of causing injuries or of acting aggressively, and
- the injured person was not trespassing or provoking the dog when attacked.
A claim under the “one bite” common-law rule may still be filed even if the dog has never succeeded at biting someone before — for instance, because the dog was stopped mid-attack. The injured person may show that the owner knew merely that the dog had “vicious propensities.” If the court finds that owner failed to take reasonable care to prevent the dog from harming someone and the injured person was harmed as as result, the owner will be held liable for the injury unless he or she can provide a sufficient defense that explains otherwise.
Criminal Laws and Dog Bites in Pennsylvania
In addition to a potential civil lawsuit, the owner of a “dangerous dog” may face criminal penalties if the dog injures another person.
A “dangerous dog” is one that has attacked, severely injured, or killed a human being or domestic animal, without provocation, and while it was away from its owner’s property.
In Pennsylvania, an owner whose “dangerous dog” attacks a person may be guilty of a misdemeanor. Keep in mind that criminal charges are brought by the state or local government directly, apart from an civil action brought by an injured person. The owner of a dangerous dog may not allow the dog to be outdoors unless the dog is either secured within an enclosure or is muzzled and leashed. The dog owner may face additional penalties for failing to take these precautions.
Experienced Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorney
If you or someone you love is injured is attacked or bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation. The issues surrounding dog bites are complex and difficult to navigate. Your dog bite attorney is the only person besides your doctor who will look after your best interest from this point forward. Contact experienced Bucks County dog bite attorney Keith J. Williams to review your case; carefully assess your situation; explain your options; and set realistic expectations.