Any type of animal attack can be catastrophic and result in physical and emotional trauma. The aftermath of a dog bite may be painful, require extensive medical treatment, and leave behind significant scarring and disfigurement. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog attack, you may wish to consult an Altoona dog bite lawyer about your various legal options.
In many cases, insurance policies for homeowners and renters who own the dog that bit you can provide coverage for your injuries. As a result, you may have significant recourse in seeking compensation for your losses. An experienced personal injury attorney could assess your situation and determine the most effective course of action in your case.
Many dog bites are severe enough that they require medical treatment, and some are so significant that they require reconstructive surgery. Due to the nature of reconstruction following a dog bite, individuals may need multiple surgeries over a lengthy period of time. These surgeries and treatments tend to be invasive, and the recovery is often painful.
Also, dog bites can result in deep wounds, which can result in scarring and disfigurement. Deep bites may also cause nerve damage, which may be permanent and may drastically impair the movement and function of some parts of the body. Dog bites are also particularly prone to infection, which can cause further complications.
Pennsylvania law allows a personal injury plaintiff to make a recovery if it is shown that the dog owner was negligent. For example, if dog owners failed to follow animal control laws, they could be liable, such as if they:
As part of proving negligence, plaintiffs must show that the dog owners knew or should have known that the dog may cause injury based on its past aggressive behavior. The injured persons need not prove that the dog bit someone in the past, but any evidence of prior unprovoked aggression by the dog could support a claim for damages. In this situation, a seasoned Altoona dog bite attorney may be able to help.
If a plaintiff can prove that a defendant was negligent with regard to the handling of the dog, the plaintiff can recover monetary damages, which may include not only medical expenses and lost wages but also compensation for emotional trauma and pain and suffering.
In some cases, dogs are designated as “dangerous dogs” under state law. Pursuant to 3 P.S. §459-502-A, this designation applies if the following elements are proven:
When a dog qualifies as dangerous, the owner must meet certain statutory requirements, pursuant to 3 P.S. §459-603-A, including:
If a dangerous dog is ever outside of its enclosure, the owner must have it leashed, muzzled, and under their direct physical control at all times. Finally, if a dangerous dog gets loose, attacks someone, or dies, their owner must inform local law enforcement as well as the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the State Dog Warden immediately. These reporting requirements also apply if the owner of a dangerous dog sells the animal to someone else.
While dog owners in Altoona may be liable to pay for the medical expenses of anyone their pet attacks, they may be able to avoid liability for additional damages through comparative fault. If a defendant can convince a court that the plaintiff filing suit against them was partially to blame for the attack he or she suffered, the court may reduce the plaintiff’s recoverable compensation or prevent him or her from recovering anything at all, if the plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault. Generally, though, a plaintiff would have to have actively provoked a dog into attacking them or have been trespassing on the owner’s property to be considered partially responsible for an attack.
Since a dog bite claim is a form of a personal injury lawsuit, the same filing deadline applies to this type of case as it would to any other civil case. According to 42 P.S. § 5524, anyone seeking civil damages for a dog bite based on an owner’s negligence must start their case within two years of the date the attack in question occurred. Failing to do so will almost certainly result in a case being dismissed, regardless of its merits. Thus, reaching out to a knowledgeable lawyer in Altoona as soon as possible following a dog attack is crucial.
Unfortunately, dogs are sometimes poorly trained, raised to be overly aggressive or have violent tendencies. All too often, these dogs can cause catastrophic injuries, which may necessitate personal injury claims. If the negligence of a dog owner led to the dog bite that caused you injuries, contact Marcus & Mack to discuss your case with an Altoona dog bite lawyer for counsel and guidance.
By: Katina B.