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Dog Bites — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Committed to Protecting Dog Bite Victims in Pittsburgh and Throughout Allegheny County

Dogs and other pets can be a wonderful addition into a household, but when animals act aggressively, their owners are held financially responsible for those violent acts. Dog bite injuries can be severe and, depending on the case, can have far-reaching consequences to the victim’s health. The experienced dog bite injury lawyers at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. are here to answer any questions that you have if you have been the victim of a dog bite in Pittsburgh or the surrounding areas. We offer a free consultation to all of our potential clients, so schedule an appointment to discuss your options by calling our office or filling out this online contact form.

FAQ: Can I pursue a claim for compensation in a dog bite case if the dog has never bitten anyone else before?
Yes. Pennsylvania has eliminated the previously applicable “one bite” rule that previously applied if the dog owner was able to establish that the dog did not have a history of aggressive behavior. Under current law, a dog owner can be held responsible even if their dog has never bitten anyone before.

FAQ: What is the “dangerous dog” law in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania dangerous dog law essentially imposes greater requirements upon owners of dogs who have previously acted violently or exhibited signs of aggression, in an effort to make sure that the “dangerous” dog does not injure another person. If the dog has previously acted in a way so that the danger was predictable (i.e., the dog was a “dangerous dog”), the dog owner can be held responsible for all damages that result—including things like lost wages and other non-medical damages.

FAQ: Do Pennsylvania dog owners have an obligation to get a license for their dogs?
Yes. By the time the dog turns age three, the dog owner must obtain a license for the dog from the local county treasurer or another licensing agent. Licensing requirements are ongoing, and the dog must be licensed no later than January 1 of each year. Pennsylvania dog licensing fees are low, however, and currently cost $8.50 per year if the dog is not spayed or neutered, or $6.50 per year if the dog has been spayed or neutered. A lifetime licensing option is also available at a cost of $51.50 per dog, or $31.50 per dog who has been spayed or neutered.

FAQ: What is the penalty for failing to license a dog in Pennsylvania?

The penalty for failing to satisfy the licensing requirements is up to $300 per violation, plus any court costs if necessary.

FAQ: Can dogs roam freely without a leash in Pennsylvania?
No, dog owners are always responsible for keeping their dogs under control at all times—this means that the dog must be on a leash, confined by fencing or otherwise restrained at all times while outside of the home.

FAQ: What should I do if I have been bitten by a dog?
If your injuries do not initially appear to be severe, it is important to identify the dog owner as soon as possible after being bitten if the dog was roaming unattended. Not only will the dog owner’s identity be necessary to pursue a claim for compensation, but the dog owner will have the information that you need regarding the dog’s history of vaccinations (for example, rabies vaccinations). Even if the dog has been vaccinated, it is important to seek out medical attention right away in order to prevent any infection that the bite could cause. After treatment, you are required to report the dog bite to the local Animal Control agencies. Additionally, take photos of the injuries to preserve evidence of the attack, and call an experienced dog bite injury lawyer who can help evaluate your case.

FAQ: How do I report a dog bite in Pittsburgh?
You can report a dog bite to the Allegheny Health Department if you have been bitten in the county. Their phone number is 412-578-8062 during business hours, and they also have an after-hours line at 412-687-2243 for weekends, evenings and holidays.

FAQ: I don’t think my injury is severe enough to go to the doctor, can’t I just treat my dog bite injury at home?
Absent medical training, it can be difficult for you to determine the possible complications that can arise even from a seemingly minor dog bite. Dogs have a variety of bacteria in their saliva that can cause infection even if the dog is properly vaccinated. Further, if you later have complications that make it necessary to pursue a claim for compensation, any available compensation award can be reduced because you have an obligation to minimize the damage to your health following the dog bite. This basically means that if your injuries were arguably made worse by failing to seek out medical attention promptly, the dog owner will not be held responsible for that decision.

FAQ: I was bitten by a dog, but the dog is owned by my friend. I don’t want to sue my friend for compensation and don’t think they would have the money to pay my medical bills anyway. What can I do?
Many dog bite victims find themselves in this situation. Unfortunately, your friend is responsible for the violent actions of his or her pet. However, it will actually be your friend’s homeowner’s insurance policy that will be responsible for paying any compensation for your injuries. While this can be a difficult situation regardless, it is important to remember that dog bite injuries often have unexpectedly severe consequences, and you may need the compensation to pay your unreimbursed medical or rehabilitative expenses down the road.

FAQ: How long do I have to decide whether to pursue compensation for a dog bite injury?
Under Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations is two years, unless you were a minor when the bite occurred, in which case you have two years from your 18th birthday to decide to file a lawsuit. Despite this seemingly generous time frame, it is important not to wait to contact an attorney after a dog has bitten you—your lawyer will need time to gather evidence and build a case, and the evidence will be at its strongest immediately after the dog bit you.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced Pittsburgh Dog Bite Injury Lawyers Today

Dog bites can leave both physical and emotional scars, and you will likely have questions about your right to recover compensation. Call our offices, or fill out this online form, to set up a free initial consultation with our dog bite injury lawyers today. Our office is conveniently located at 3634 California Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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