If someone is bitten by a dog and injured, they need to prove a number of factors contributed to the attack in order to have a successful lawsuit. These factors can vary from state to state. Read on to learn what the most common factors are in a dog bite case and what to expect when trying to win a case and secure financial compensation.
Owner Either Knew or Should Have Known Dog’s Behavior
States that do not have dog bite statutes or laws have general rules that say an owner is liable for dog bite injuries only if he or she knew or should have known such a thing could have happened based on the dog’s breed, for example.
Obviously, if a dog acted aggressively and/or bit someone before it serves as good evidence, but prior attacks aren’t necessary. For instance, an owner knows that a dog becomes annoyed or anxious after an operation, it’s the owner's responsibility to make sure others are safe around the dog. If this means the owner needs to keep people away from the dog after the operation, then so be it. That is their responsibility.
A plaintiff in a case can also use circumstantial evidence to prove that the owner should have known the dog was prone to biting, such as the breed, the use of a chain, or that it used to be a guard animal.
In some circumstances, a dog bite statute may do away with this requirement.
Dog Bite Statutes
Many states have dog bite statutes, and the nature of it can vary from state to state. Many removed the factor of needing to know the past behavior of the dog and the requirement of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s propensities.
Plaintiffs that show the defendant violated requirements laid out in the statute will win their dog bite case, but remember, these vary from state to state, so do your research.
Harm to the Victim
One of the most important and essential elements in dog bite cases, regardless of the statue, is the bite that caused the injury. If the bite was minor, the recovery will be as well. We will note that damages will include emotional trauma even if there is only a little physical harm.
If the plaintiff was bitten by a dog, but trespassing at the time, the owner will not be liable. This holds true for states that do and do not have statutes.
The defendant will also have a reasonable defense if the plaintiff has provoked the dog. Some dog bite statutes do not allow this type of defense, and in the ones that do, the plaintiff typically needs to prove that they did not provoke the attack, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Contact a Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney
We hope this information has been helpful to you. If you have been bitten by a dog in Philadelphia and are in need of legal help, contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation.