There are millions of dogs in American homes, and each one of them plays an integral part in the happiness invoked in the lives of their family members. Generally, dogs are considered to be loving, forgiving companions. But sometimes, dogs can become aggressive and bite, causing serious injury to you or a loved one. If you’ve been attacked and/or bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation.
Dog Laws in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Dog law requires owners/keepers to maintain reasonable control over their dogs at all times. The law also requires owners/keepers to confine their dogs to the property by maintaining an adequate fence or restrain their dogs from straying by the use of a collar, chain or other similar device.
“Dangerous Dog” Defined
Under Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dog Statute, a dog that has done one or more of the following constitutes a “dangerous dog”:
- A dog that has inflicted severe injury on a person without provocation. “Severe injury” is any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfigurement requiring several sutures or even cosmetic surgery;
- A dog that has attacked a person without provocation;
- A dog that has been used to commit a crime; and/or
- A dog that has killed or caused severe injury on a domestic animal, without provocation, and while outside the confines of the owner’s property.
A dog that possesses either or both of the following is also considered to be a “dangerous dog”:
- A dog that has a history of attacking people and/or domestic animals, without provocation; or
- A dog that has a propensity to attack people and/or domestic animals, without provocation. A propensity to attack can be proven by a single attack depending on the severity of the dog’s conduct.
Under Pennsylvania law, dog owners/keepers may be held liable for all damages suffered by a person who was severely attacked by their dog, or if the person is attacked by a dog that was previously considered to be dangerous. Victims of dog attacks can recover damages if the dog owner/keeper was negligent or fails to comply with Pennsylvania Dog Laws. In instances where a particular dog has bitten before, two things can generally happen: (1) If the victim’s injuries are severe, ie. disfigurement or permanent scarring, he or she can make a claim against the owner/keeper of the dog for damages, including but not limited to medical expenses, wage loss benefits, and pain and suffering. (2) A victim not severely injured still has a right to assert a claim against the dog owner/keeper for related medical expenses.