Injuries inflicted by reactive or aggressive dogs are a recurring problem in Philadelphia. Sadly, dogs that aren’t leashed or kept behind a fence can inflict deep puncture wounds if they decide to attack. This traumatic experience can often result in physical and emotional scars. Whether you were bitten at someone’s house, at a designated dog park, or anywhere else, an attorney can help you protect yourself legally and financially.
Liability in Pennsylvania Dog Bite Cases
Large dog breeds often don’t recognize their own strength or size, and if they jump or lunge, they can easily knock down someone. When dogs of any size react because of fear, protecting territory, or some other reason, they might also bite, causing serious injury.
That’s why there are rules to protect the public from that possibility. While laws vary from state to state, most typically require dog owners to clean up after their pets and take reasonable steps to prevent dog bite injuries.
One important reason to talk to an attorney after injury from a damaging dog attack is to understand Pennsylvania’s laws clearly. Here are the key points to keep in mind when attempting to cover medical bills or recover other damages after a dog bite injury.
Certain locations in the city are designated as animal-free zones by the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation department. Any dog that isn’t a service animal is specifically prohibited from being in these areas. If an owner ignores those rules and brings an aggressive dog anyway, they may be liable for any injuries.
Failure to Warn
An owner can also be liable for damages if they fail to warn visitors of a dog’s aggressive nature. If that dog has bitten people in the past, an owner has a clear duty to keep the animal away from anyone who could be harmed in another incident.
No “One Bite” Law
Pennsylvania crucially doesn’t have a “one bite” law. In other states, these laws interfere with a victim’s ability to pursue compensation if the bite was a dog’s first offense. But in Philadelphia, you can still seek compensation through insurance or file a lawsuit even if this is the first time the dog has injured someone.
State law and local Philadelphia ordinances require pet owners to keep their dogs confined. All canines must either be kept behind a fence when outside or wear a leash no longer than six feet. It’s also illegal for dogs to roam freely within the city limits without a leash. An owner who fails to follow these ordinances can be liable for your damages if their dog harms you.
Take These Important Steps After a Dog Bite Injury
You can take plenty of simple and common-sense actions to prevent bite injuries when a dog behaves aggressively. If you or your child was harmed by an aggressive animal and the owner could have taken steps to prevent the incident, you have a right to seek compensation. Follow these steps:
- If you’re able, document the injury by taking photos of the bite.
- Contact animal control if the dog that bit you remains unleashed outside and is a potential harm to other people in the area.
- Jot down the names and contact info (address, phone number, email, and so on) of anyone who witnessed the attack. It’s also important to get the contact details of the dog’s owner if that person is already at the scene of the attack.
- Head to the emergency room immediately. Even if the bite doesn’t look particularly bad, you need to be examined by a medical professional. You might also require a rabies shot or other medication such as antibiotics. Aside from your physical condition, it’s also extremely important to establish a paper trail on your bite injury.
- Notify the dog’s owner about the injury. This step is crucial, especially if the owner wasn’t at the scene and didn’t witness the bite.
- Consult a qualified Philadelphia dog bite personal injury attorney.
Potential Compensation After a Philadelphia Dog Bite Attack
These actions aim to secure the full and fair compensation you deserve for a dog bite injury. This might be an insurance payout, a settlement agreement from the at-fault party, or a court judgment. Depending on what occurred during the attack, your potential damages from a dog bite may include:
- Disfigurement, embarrassment, and lost quality of life if the bites took place in a visible area like the face or neck
- Medical bills from the ER visit or hospital stay
- Pain and suffering
- Surgery costs
- Wrongful death in cases when dog mauling is fatal
Your ability to acquire any of that compensation hinges on having a professional representative to fight for your legal rights. So you should contact a Bucks County lawyer as soon as possible after leaving the hospital.