Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer
Our Philadelphia Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Can Help You Get Compensation
Dogs can be perfect companions and dutiful guardians of your home and family. However, they are also animals that act on instinct, making their behavior unpredictable at times. Injuries from dog attacks may be severe, painful, and disfiguring, or even lead to death.
If you or a loved one was injured by a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation from the animal’s owner for your costs, injuries and the suffering you endured. However, dog bite cases are complicated, as there are specific Pennsylvania laws regarding dog bites and attacks. In addition, owners may try to avoid paying by attempting to put the blame on you for trespassing or provoking the dog.
The experienced Philadelphia dog bite lawyers at Wapner Newman know how the laws and the system operate, and how to fight for justice and the settlement you deserve. In addition, if a dog is capable of attacking and injuring people, it’s important that the situation be rectified so others don’t suffer such trauma in the future.
Let us take the burden off you by handling all legal hurdles involved with getting you justice and the compensation you deserve. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and determine the best way to move forward. Call Wapner Newman today at (215) 569-0900 to get started.
Dog Bite Injury Attorney Explains Relevant Laws
Dog bite cases in Pennsylvania are governed by both statutes and case law. According to Pennsylvania’s statutes (3 P.S. § 459-502), dog owners are responsible for their pets’ conduct. Owners and keepers are required to have reasonable control over their dogs at all times. This means that, legally, dog owners have to take precautions like the following to reduce the likelihood of an attack:
- Dogs must be confined to the owner’s property.
- The dog must be securely kept on the premises.
- Owners must keep their dog under “reasonable control” using a leash and/or other safety equipment to prevent straying.
Dog bite victims who prove that a dog owner violated Pennsylvania’s confinement statute may recover under a theory of negligence per se. This is called a strict liability standard, and it applies whether or not the dog has exhibited any previous tendency to bite.
The law states that whenever a dog bites or injures someone, the animal’s owner is financially liable for the cost of all medical treatment for the injuries, without the victim’s having to prove fault. However, this law does not make the owner responsible for other damages stemming from the incident, like pain and suffering and lost income if the victim is unable to work.
If the dog owner failed to take these precautions and you were on public property or legally entered private property and didn’t provoke the dog that bit you, you might be entitled to damages for these additional costs through a personal injury lawsuit.
Dog Bite Lawyers in Philadelphia Must Prove Negligence
Pennsylvania law states that an owner is liable for all damages when a person is severely attacked or if the person is attacked and the dog previously has been considered dangerous. If injuries are severe (resulting in broken bones, disfiguring lacerations, or injury that requires cosmetic surgery), you can make a claim against the dog owner for medical expenses, as well as other losses and legal damages.
Pennsylvania courts have set out rules for suing for bites and other injuries when that harm results from the dog owner’s negligence or fault or failure to comply with the state dog laws. To win your case, our Wapner Newman dog bite attorneys must prove that the animal’s owner:
- knew the dog had “unmistakably vicious tendencies,” and
- failed to take reasonable steps to properly control the animal.
Pennsylvania’s courts have held that a dog can demonstrate vicious tendencies without necessarily biting someone, but also that a single previous bite doesn’t automatically lead to the conclusion that the dog is vicious. However, if the dog owner violates the Pennsylvania law requiring that the animal be restrained at all times, the owner will be found to be negligent.
When a Dog is a “Dangerous Dog”
Some dogs have already been designated as vicious and dangerous. Pennsylvania statutes define a “dangerous dog” as:
(1) a dog that has done one or more of the following:
- inflicted severe injury on a person without provocation
- killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal, without provocation, while off the owner’s property
- attacked a person without provocation
- been used in the commission of a crime.
(2) a dog that has either or both of the following:
- a history of attacking people and/or domestic animals without provocation
- a propensity to attack people and/or domestic animals without provocation.
When a dog is dangerous, their owners must meet certain safety requirements. The dogs must be registered as dangerous and be kept in a proper enclosure with a clearly visible warning sign bearing a warning symbol that informs children of the presence of a dangerous dog. When the dangerous dog is outside of its enclosure, it must be muzzled and restrained. Owners must have liability insurance coverage of at least $50,000 for any personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog.
Should owners be negligent and their dangerous dog attack a person or domestic animal, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree and faces up to two years in prison. If the attack causes severe injury or death of a person, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree and faces up to five years in prison.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
Pennsylvania law covers only dog bite injuries, rather than all types of injuries caused by a dog (such as a fall caused by a large dog jumping on the victim). However, dog bites by themselves can be serious and traumatic, commonly resulting in:
- Deep puncture wounds (Bites to the hands, fingers, or face can be especially dangerous.)
- Broken bones
- Damage to tissue and internal organs
- Mental and emotional distress.
Although every dog bite case is different, in a successful lawsuit, you might receive a damage award that covers:
- Medical bills and future treatment expenses (potentially including plastic surgery, if the bite led to disfigurement)
- Lost income, if you missed work while undergoing diagnosis or treatment for your injuries
- Property damaged in the attack
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and distress.
How Our Philadelphia Dog Bite Injury Attorney Can Help
When you retain our Wapner Newman dog bite attorneys we will get to work on your case immediately. We will:
- Meet with you to discuss how the dog attack occurred and determine whether you have a valid case and what it may be worth.
- Ensure that you get proper medical care and that all injuries are documented. In addition to emergency treatment, sutures, and other measures, you might require shots to prevent rabies or tetanus.
- Investigate and gather evidence, such as from surveillance videos, police and medical reports, and interviews with eyewitnesses and first responders.
- Hire experts to provide medical testimony as to the extent of your injuries, how they affect your life, and the care you will need into the future.
- File all required paperwork in a timely manner.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and opposition attorneys for a fair settlement.
- Build your case and take it to court if necessary.
We will be there for you throughout the entire process, keeping you informed and answering your questions and addressing your concerns.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in Philadelphia
Being injured in a dog bite attack is a frightening, traumatic experience, but you don’t have to fight for a fair settlement alone. The compassionate dog bite attorneys at Wapner Newman know what you are going through and are here to take the burden off you, so you can concentrate on your recovery.
Don’t delay, as there are time limits for filing. In Pennsylvania, dog bite cases generally must be filed within two years of the date on which you were bitten or harmed by the dog. If you try to file your lawsuit more than two years after the date of your injury, the court will dismiss your case, unless a rare exception exists.
Call Wapner Newman at 215-569-0900 today to schedule your free consultation.