While dogs can be wonderful companions and serve useful purposes, such as herding animals and guarding property, dog owners have a responsibility to control their animals and protect others from bites or attacks. When owners fail to fulfill their duty, they should be held liable for harm caused.
If you suffered from a dog bite or other injuries caused by a dog, you should consult a Western PA dog bite lawyer to learn more about your rights and options for recovery. A personal injury attorney familiar with laws governing dog bite cases could determine whether you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Dangerous Dog Laws in Western PA
State laws contain several requirements applicable to dogs who are determined to be “dangerous” under Pennsylvania law, 3 P.S. §459-502-A. A “dangerous” dog is one which has a history or propensity to attack people or domestic animals without provocation and which has been used in the commission of a crime, inflicted serious injury on someone without provocation, seriously injured a domestic animal while off the owner’s property, or attacked someone without provocation.
Among other things, an owner of a “dangerous” dog must register the dog and keep the dog confined indoors or in a secure, locked outdoor enclosure that meets statutory requirements. When the dog is outside of an enclosure, it must be muzzled and kept on a substantial leash and “under the physical restraint of a responsible person.”
Failure to abide by the requirements could provide grounds for liability. Even if a dog does not qualify as a “dangerous” dog, however, a Western PA dog bite lawyer could still demonstrate that the owner was negligent and should be liable for injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases
The amount of time a potential plaintiff has to file a claim for damages is limited by the state statute of limitations. State law specifies that a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the injury, but it is wise to consult an Indiana dog bite lawyer and begin working on building a case well before the statute of limitations period ends. Evidence will be needed to prove liability, and that evidence should be collected as soon as possible.
Who is Liable for an Animal Attack?
Whenever an injured person pursues a lawsuit against a party liable for an attack, he or she must first identify all possible defendants. The owner of the animal may be liable as he or she has a duty under the law to keep that animal under control. This applies regardless of whether the attack occurred on the owner’s property or in public.
In other situations, the owner of land where the animal is kept may share liability. The concept of premises liability means that property owner must keep it safe for invited guests. For example, if the owner of an apartment complex fails to maintain a fenced in an area designated for pets, they could be held liable if a dog gets loose and attacks someone. A Western PA attorney could help identify all liable parties in dog bite injury claims.
What Damages are Available?
Every personal injury claim has the goal to collect compensation needed to make an injured party whole again. However, calculating a person’s losses can be complex.
The most direct loss that a claimant endures is physical harm. In dog bite cases, these can typically include puncture wounds, scarring, disfigurement, infections, and torn flesh. A pet owner could be responsible for providing compensation for the costs of necessary medical care.
In addition, the injured party may also demand compensation for mental trauma connected to the attack. Dog attacks can cause great fear in people, and it is not unusual for injured parties to develop PTSD from the incident. A claim should attempt to place a dollar value on this lost quality of life.
Severe injuries may cause a person to suffer additional economic damages. These typically take the form of lost wages. If a party needs to miss time at work to seek medical care, the defendants can be liable to provide reimbursement. In serious cases, a person suffering a catastrophic injury that permanently limits their ability to earn a living. A Western PA dog bite attorney could help to measure the full value of a claim based on the damages suffered by a claimant.
People who own dogs often fail to realize the harm their animals may inflict on others. With their powerful bodies, dogs can knock or pull over even a much larger human. While dog bites receive more attention than other injuries caused by dogs, falls can often cause injuries that are just as damaging.
If you have suffered injuries caused by a dog in Western PA, it is only fair to require the dog’s owner to take responsibility for the consequences. A Western PA dog bite lawyer could help you recover compensation to cover doctor’s bills, future medical needs, emotional distress, and other aspects associated with the injury. For a free case evaluation to learn the options in your situation, contact us now.