Dog attack injuries can be severe and may have lasting consequences, but if someone else’s dog attacks you, you may be eligible for compensation. A Bala Cynwyd dog bite lawyer could explain how Pennsylvania law defines this type of personal injury. Contacting a skilled attorney as soon as possible after the attack could benefit your personal injury case.
Types of Injuries from Dog Bites
Dog bites can range from minor injuries to ones that could cause death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, with young children most at risk. Injuries include:
- Facial and neck puncture wounds and lacerations that may require stitches or cosmetic surgery
- Nerve damage and permanent scarring
- Psychological trauma requiring therapy
- Bruising and broken bones
A nearby dog attack attorney could assess a client’s injuries to determine how much financial compensation is appropriate.
Strict Liability and Negligence
Although homeowners insurance usually covers dog bites, state law provides additional guidance.
Strict Liability for Medical Treatment
Under Pennsylvania’s legal theory of strict liability, a dog owner whose animal bites someone will be responsible for that person’s medical bills, even if the owner was attentive or did not know their dog was dangerous.
For someone traumatized by a dog bite, having their medical bills paid may not be enough. A victim could then sue the dog owner for negligence and attempt to recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of the enjoyment of life, or diminished future earning power.
Negligence for Damages Beyond Medical Bills
A dog owner is considered negligent if they are unreasonably careless. Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 3 § 459-305, dog owners must control their dogs, which means keeping them confined when on the owner’s premises and on a leash or chain with a collar while in public. A plaintiff will have to prove that the dog owner failed to control the dog.
Proof that the dog is vicious or has bitten someone in the past may help a plaintiff’s case. The dog bite must be the actual and proximate cause of the injury. This means the accused dog must have bitten the victim, and if the victim had not encountered the dog, they would not have been harmed by its bite. Victims cannot have provoked the dog that bit them, and doing so provides a defense for the dog’s owner. A local attorney familiar with animal attacks can explain why a negligence lawsuit might be preferable to settling for medical bills under strict liability.
Vicious Dogs Can Lead to Criminal Charge
If a dog has a history of viciousness and bites someone, attacks another domestic animal away from the dog owner’s premises, or was used to commit a crime, its owner can be charged with a low-level offense. The owner may have to pay a $500 fine and will have to:
- Register and microchip the dangerous dog
- Confine or muzzle the dog
- Post a Dangerous Dog sign on owner’s property
- Pay court-ordered restitution to victims
- Spay or neuter the dog
A dog owner who does not comply with the requirements, or acts negligently again, could face a misdemeanor criminal charge, and the dog may be euthanized. A lawyer in the area could look for these charges when researching a dog bite defendant’s record of owning a dangerous animal.
A Bala Cynwyd Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
Dog attacks are devastating, physically and mentally, and you may feel the effects of one for a lifetime. Receiving compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages requires knowledge of Pennsylvania’s complicated laws concerning dog attacks.
If you have been attacked by someone else’s animal, a Bala Cynwyd dog bite lawyer could help you navigate a personal injury case and recover damages. Call today to schedule a confidential consultation.