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When Dogs Bite (or Don’t), You May Have a Claim

| Aug 15, 2020 | Dog Bites

Image from Pixabay

Dogs injure even when they don’t bite

When you picture a dog attack, do you immediately think of a large dog biting someone? Given the media coverage of these incidents, it would not be surprising if you did.

But what happens when a dog does not bite its victim? What if a dog is just being friendly and playful but knocks a person down and causes injury? Can the victim make a claim against the dog owner even if there is no bite and the injuries are like those you would suffer in a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall? A dog owner can be found negligent (at fault) even when a dog does not bite.

When is it the dog owner’s fault?

The dog attack lawyers at Warren McGraw & Knowles prove the dog owner was negligent (at fault) in Pennsylvania, the victim by proving three things:

  1. The dog had dangerous propensities.
  2. The owner knew or should have known about those dangerous propensities.
  3. The owner failed to take reasonable care to secure or control the dog.

Large overly friendly dogs that jump may be just as dangerous as a vicious dog that bites. Pennsylvania law does not distinguish between dogs that are vicious and dogs that are mischievous. The courts do not look at the dog’s personality when the dog inflicts harm.

Pennsylvania maintains a list of dogs that have been declared dangerous

Many breeds that have made the state’s list of dangerous dogs are not what you would think of either. Some form of Pit Bull breed does comprise much of the state’s list of dangerous dogs. But the list also includes breeds such as Labs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Husky’s – more often thought to be friendly and rambunctious rather than dangerous. If the dog that causes injury is on the list of dangerous dogs, its dangerous propensities are clearly known. But if you are attacked by a dog that is not on the lists, thorough investigation can prove that the dog’s dangerous propensities were known to the owner.

              • Bucks County = 14 dangerous dogs listed
              • Chester County = 14 dangerous dogs listed
              • Delaware County = 11 dangerous dogs listed
              • Montgomery County = 16 dangerous dogs listed
              • Philadelphia County = 22 dogs listed

Pennsylvania’s Dog Law requires owners to keep their dogs under reasonable control

Pennsylvania’s “Dog Law” (3 P.S. §459-305) makes it unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to fail to keep the dog confined & firmly secured on their premises and under the reasonable control of some person. Even if a dog is leashed, a dog attack victim can still recover if the dog was not under reasonable control and attacked or jumped on them without provocation.

A violation of the Dog Law can help prove your case

A violation of the Dog Law is helpful to victims of a dog attack because it establishes “negligence per se,” a legal concept that assigns negligence (fault) due to violation of an established standard of care. Once negligence per se is established you just have to prove that the violation caused you injury.

What to do if you are injured by a dog

  1. Get medical attention for your injuries.
  2. Record as much information as you can about the dog and the location.
  3. Consult with an injury lawyer knowledgeable about dog law.
  4. Don’t sign anything from the insurance company until you consult with a lawyer and learn your rights.

If you are injured in a dog attack, it is important to talk to an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help you investigate the dog’s history, determine whether the owner has appropriate insurance coverage, and assist you with any criminal actions against the owner due to the incident.

The attorneys at Warren McGraw & Knowles have handled many cases where the victim of a dog attack was either bitten or knocked down by a dog. If you have been injured by a dog, call the attorneys at Warren McGraw & Knowles. We can evaluate your case during a free consultation and provide experienced opinions.

Christopher Sperring graduated magna cum laude from Lock Haven University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in History. He graduated Villanova Law School in 2015. He is a member of the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Leadership Academy and serves as Vice-President of the Montgomery County Historical Society. Learn more about Chris here.