Pittsburgh Attorneys on Animal Owner Laws in Pennsylvania
Skilled Dog Bite Injury Lawyers Help Victims Prove When Violation of Pennsylvania Animal Owner Laws Causes Injury
Approximately one in five dog bite victims require medical attention for their injuries, many of which can be severe and lasting. Because of this Pennsylvania has developed a specific and detailed set of animal owner laws designed to prevent animal attacks and dog bites, and to impose financial responsibility on those animal owners who fail to take steps to keep others safe from their pets.
Notably, Pennsylvania animal owner laws do not require that the animal actually bites an individual for that person to be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by the dog or other animal. For example, if an improperly restrained dog knocks you to the ground and causes injury, Pennsylvania animal owner laws will still allow you to recover compensation based on those injuries. At Goodrich & Geist, P.C., our animal attack and dog bite injury lawyers are committed to helping attack victims understand how the Pennsylvania animal owner laws apply in their case.
Pennsylvania Law Imposes Specific Duties on Dog Owners
Under Pennsylvania law, dog owners are required to maintain control of their dogs at all times. This “control” can be accomplished in any number of ways, as long as the animal is kept under control so that others are safe and protected from attack. Dog owners are never permitted to allow their animals to roam freely without some sort of mechanism for the owner to physically restrain the dog if necessary. Some examples of “controlling” a dog include:
- Keeping the dog on a leash, and otherwise restraining the dog while around other people,
- Building a fence to keep a dog restrained in the owner’s yard,
- Tethering or chaining the dog so that it is not able to leave the owner’s property,
- Otherwise making sure the dog is secured in the owner’s home, garage or elsewhere on the property.
Dog owners are also required to post warning signs where appropriate to help protect the safety of others in the community when the dog has a history of violence. When a dog has bitten another person or domestic animal in the past, it is characterized as a “dangerous dog” under Pennsylvania animal owner laws. This means that the owner must take special care to prevent another injury, and can even be held responsible for punitive damages if the dog bites again.
Dog Bite Lawyers at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. Understand How Pennsylvania’s Animal Owner Laws Impact Your Right to Compensation
Pennsylvania animal owner laws establish a tiered system for determining a victim’s right to recover compensation from the animal owner. If a dog has bitten another individual without provocation in a previous incident, you will be entitled to recover full compensation for your injuries. Similarly, if the animal owner was negligent in his or her handling of the dog (and violation of Pennsylvania animal owner laws can provide evidence of negligence), our lawyers can make a strong case that you should be entitled to recover full compensation for your injuries. Full compensation includes:
- Medical expenses (including any future medical care, emotional counseling or physical therapy),
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering,
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs, and
- Punitive damages in especially egregious cases.
If the dog has never bitten before, your right to recover compensation will be impacted by the severity of your injuries. Dog bite victims suffering from “severe” injuries are entitled to recover full compensation. When the injury is not considered to be severe, you can only recover medical expenses from the animal owner. What constitutes “severe” can be subjective and is often open to argument. For example, severe injuries include:
- Broken bones,
- Punctures or lacerations that are so severe as to require stitches or sutures,
- Injuries that require cosmetic or reconstructive surgery,
- Permanent injuries, such as loss of fingers or hands, or ongoing nerve damage.
Establishing liability for a dog bite injury will also involve examining why you were on the property (in other words, were you invited or trespassing when the dog bit) and whether you provoked the animal. At Goodrich & Geist, P.C., we fight to make sure our clients obtain all of the compensation to which they are rightfully entitled under Pennsylvania’s animal owner laws, and will investigate and consult with experts to determine the severity of your injury.
Contact Goodrich & Geist, P.C. for a Free Initial Consultation With an Experienced Pittsburgh-Area Animal Injury Lawyer Today
In most cases, the animal owner will be held financially responsible for all of the medical expenses necessary to treat your injury. Our experienced team of animal attack and dog bite injury lawyers can evaluate whether you may be entitled to other forms of compensation based upon the circumstances surrounding your accident. Call our offices, or fill out this online form, to set up a free initial consultation with our Allegheny County dog bite injury lawyers today. Our office is conveniently located at 3634 California Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
FAQ: What will happen to the dog if I file a claim for compensation after the dog bit me?
In the vast majority of the cases, it is only the dog owner who will be held responsible for dog bite injuries—meaning that the dog will not necessarily be put to sleep. If the dog has bitten once before, the dog will be labeled as a dangerous dog—but this only means that the animal owner will be required to take more extensive steps to make sure that others are protected and the dog is properly restrained. Dogs will only be put down in the most egregious of cases, where the animal has a lengthy history of causing serious injury.
FAQ: What if the dog owner contacted me to discuss the dog bite injuries his animal caused? What should I do?
It is best to avoid speaking with the dog owner without an experienced lawyer present. Our lawyers can also speak with the animal owner on your behalf. This is primarily for your own protection because it can be easy to accidentally admit some degree of fault after a dog bite even if you were clearly not at fault and did nothing to provoke the animal.