According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dogs bite millions of people throughout the United States each year, and nearly twenty percent of victims need medical attention. At least half of these bites affect children, who suffer more dog bites than any other age group annually and have the highest risk of suffering severe injuries.
Any dog can bite, regardless of breed, age, or sex. The AVMA states that a dog’s propensity to bite stems only from its individual history, behavior, and specific circumstances, such as feeling sick, scared, or threatened, which can trigger their natural instinct to protect themselves. However, owners have a responsibility to train their dogs and keep them contained around others to prevent accidental bites.
If you or your child suffered a dog bite that required medical care, an Erie dog bite lawyer can determine if you have a case against the dog’s owner. Contact us today at (412) 661-1400 to speak with our legal team about your options.
Dog Bites Can Cause Serious Injuries and Infections
Some dog bites resolve on their own with basic first aid, but more severe injuries may require emergency care to treat open wounds and prevent infection. Some victims find that bites that appeared minor at first later worsened, as even minor puncture wounds can collect harmful bacteria and viruses that can lead to complications. According to Healthline, complications that result from dog bites may include infections, rabies, and nerve or muscle damage.
Some physical injuries caused by dog bites have outward signs, such as wounds or bleeding, while broken and crushed bones and damage to tendons or ligaments may not appear on the surface. These types of injuries require treatment by a healthcare professional, who can help you prevent infection, heal properly, and control your pain. Medical bills that result from dog bites may be substantial, but an Erie dog bite lawyer can help you pursue damages.
For a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer serving Erie, call (412) 661-1400
Pennsylvania Dog Bite Law
According to 3 PS §459-502, any dog that bites a person must be detained, isolated, and evaluated for a minimum of 10 days at the owner’s expense, and the victim can hold the owner liable for their injuries if they did not provoke the attack. Specific circumstances of the case, such as the extent of the injury and the results of the dog’s assessment, determine the next steps victims can take and the requirements owners must abide by moving forward.
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Victims May Seek Compensation from the Liable Owner
If the owner of the dog cannot prove that the victim provoked the dog prior to the attack, the victim is entitled to payment from the owner for the full cost of their medical bills. While the victim cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering or other types of damages, they may have the option to file a lawsuit against the owner for negligence to pursue further financial awards.
Strict Liability Law
Pennsylvania has a strict liability law when it comes to dog bite claims, which means that the owner can be held responsible for the victim’s injuries even if they did not intend for them to happen. The victim can hold the owner liable by proving that the dog bit them, they did not provoke the attack, and the attack took place either in public or on private property on which the victim had a lawful presence.
If you can prove that the dog owner should have maintained control of the dog and their failure to do so led to your injuries, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them for negligence to pursue damages.
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Dangerous Dog Requirements
If an unprovoked dog has attacked, killed, or inflicted severe injury on a human or another animal and has a history of attacking people or animals, 3 PS §459-102 deems the dog dangerous and holds the owner to specific requirements, including containment, registration, spay or neuter, microchipping, and insurance.
Whether or not the dog that bit you has attacked before, you may have the opportunity to hold the owner accountable for your injuries. Contact Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400 to discuss your case with our legal team.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims in Pennsylvania
You can file a claim against the liable owner in your dog bite case, but 42 Pa. CS §5524 allows you a specific time frame during which you can do so. According to this law, victims typically have up to two years to file a personal injury claim. Similarly, if you lost a child or another loved one due to fatal injuries caused by the dog bite, you may have up to two years to file a wrongful death suit against the dog’s owner.
Exceptions to these rules do apply under certain circumstances, such as if you were bitten as a minor or the liable party leaves Pennsylvania after the attack and before you have had a chance to pursue legal action. However, an Erie dog bite lawyer can determine how much time you have left to get started on your case and help you get started before the deadline passes.
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People assume serious responsibilities when they choose to take a dog into their homes, and they have an obligation to ensure not only the safety and well-being of their pet but also that of other people and animals. Every dog is different, and every dog can bite. Owners must take this into consideration before taking their dog out in public or welcoming guests into their home, or devastating injuries can result.
If you, your child, or another family member suffered a serious or fatal dog bite in Erie, PA, the lawyers at Berger and Green can investigate your case, establish liability, and pursue financial recovery on your behalf. Contact us today at (412) 661-1400 to get started.