In Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia County, people often fall victim to dog attacks. In many cases, these attacks can cause seriously bodily injuries to the victim(s) that can have long lasting impacts on their quality of life. It is essential that any individual(s) who has suffered a dog attack, know what their rights are and how having an experienced attorney can help them achieve the outcome they are entitled to.
Pennsylvania Dog Laws: What to Know
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has an animal confinement law which mandates all animals to be secured within the premises of their owner or be restrained with a leash and collar so they cannot go beyond the control of their owner.
If an animal is not properly restrained or confined and subsequently bites someone, then the owner will be held liable under the doctrine of negligence per se. This doctrine states that any individual in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who violates the animal confinement law will be liable for any injuries that the dog(s) caused due to the law being broken.
However there is a caveat to this rule. If the owner exercised reasonable due care in the confinement of their dog and the dog still manages to break free, then the owner will may not be liable for the injuries the dog caused.
In order to determine whether or not the owner exercised due care, an experienced attorney will examine whether or not:
- the animal was adequately confined
- the animal had escaped confinement on prior occasions
- the owner was aware that the animal could escape the confinement
- whether or not the owner deliberately let the dog out of confinement
In many instances, the facts surrounding confinement can be essential as to whether or not a victim can recover damages from the owner and that is why having an experienced attorney is essential to an injury claim.
Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dog Law
Pennsylvania also has a statute that pertains to dogs that have been deemed dangerous by the Commonwealth. Under this statute, an animal will be deemed to be a dangerous dog if one or more of the following is applicable:
- the dog has been used in the commission of a crime
- the dog has attacked an individual in the past without any provocation
- the dog has killed or inflicted severe bodily harm to another animal while they are not on the premises of the owner
- the dog has caused severe bodily injury to a person in the past without provocation
Potential Defenses for a Dog Owner who Bites an Individual:
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are generally two defenses to a dog attack that the owner can use to escape liability for the injuries the victim suffered:
- The individual who was attacked and injured by the owner’s dog was provoking the animal and, as a result of the provocation, the animal attacked
- The individual who was attacked and injured by the owner’s dog was a willful trespasser on the owner’s property when the attack occurred
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites
Pennsylvania courts have a statute of limitations on when an individual can file a lawsuit relating to a dog bite. In PA an individual will have 2 years to file an injury claim and that time begins at the moment the injury occurs. If the individual files an injury claim longer than 2 years after the injury occurred, the court may not accept it. It is essential that any individual who falls victim to a dog attack file the injury within the statute of limitations in order to protect their chances of recovery.
Have You Been the Victim of a Dog Attack?
The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this process. Please contact us with any question about your or a loved ones specific injury. Our experienced staff and attorneys will ensure that your needs, concerns, and questions will be handled in a professional and courteous manner. Your Future is Our Priority!