While many people own dogs for companionship or as service animals, these animals can cause severe harm. Dog attacks happen all the time and can leave people and their pets severely injured and emotionally scarred. Victims of such incidents have the right to hold the pet owner accountable for the harm their animal has caused.
A Bucks County dog bite lawyer could provide you with much needed guidance throughout the legal process. A well-practiced injury attorney could explain the legal nuances that apply to animal attacks and help ensure you are properly compensated for your losses.
Pennsylvania’s Dog Bite Law
Under state law, pet owners must always have control of their animals either through a leash or confinement, such as a fence. Failure for a pet owner to control their dog could lead to someone getting bitten, resulting in the owner potentially facing both civil and criminal liability.
The Dog Law classifies dogs who bite as a threat to society, commonly called “dangerous dogs.” Owners of dangerous dogs need to follow additional protocols to keep the public safe, including:
- Registering the dog with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement
- Paying an annual registration fee
- Keeping the dog adequately confined
- Muzzling the dog and securing it with an appropriate leash or chain when in public
- Posting visible warning signs on the property
- Attaching a dangerous dog ID tag to its collar
- Securing insurance and a surety bond
- Notifying the Bureau if the dog becomes loose, commits another attack, is sold, or dies
Violations of these laws and regulations may serve as evidence of an owner’s negligent or reckless conduct. Local lawyers experienced with dog bite cases in Bucks County could gather evidence of any violations to further demonstrate culpability and maximize recovery.
What Makes a Dog Dangerous?
In Pennsylvania, a dog is considered dangerous if it has caused severe injury to or killed a person or other domestic animal without provocation or used in criminal activity. The animal will also have a history of unprovoked aggressive behavior or a predisposition to attack without being instigated. Even one incident can satisfy this requirement.
Recovering Damages from a Negligent Pet Owner
The nature of damages available to someone who suffered a dog bite depends on a few factors: if the animal qualifies as a dangerous dog, if the incident is the dog’s first transgression, the severity of the individual’s injury, and the injured party’s role in the events. For first time offenders, the degree of the victim’s injuries will dictate the damages available.
People suffering from catastrophic injuries may recover for all the harm they endured, including medical bills, lost wages, pain, and emotional anguish. Severe injuries include broken bones, lacerations requiring sutures, wounds needing cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, and permanent disfigurement. For lesser injuries, claimants may recover only medical expenses.
Owners often defend their dogs by blaming the person who was bitten. An injured party may not recover compensation if they provoked the dog, willfully trespassed on the property, or committed other unlawful acts subject to a civil lawsuit. Dog attack attorneys in the area understand how to respond effectively and preserve the validity of the injured party’s compensation demands.
Talk to a Bucks County Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Dog bites can be traumatic experiences, that generally result in painful treatments, substantial medical bills, and physical and emotional pain. A Bucks County dog bite lawyer could alleviate some of this stress by holding the pet owner financially accountable for the harm inflicted upon you and ensure the owner takes steps to keep the public safe going forward. Call today to discuss how our firm could help you.