Dogs are mostly gently, friendly pets and faithful companions, and often considered to be members of the family. Unfortunately, millions of people sustain a dog bite injury each year, half of them children. Along with scarring or permanent disfigurement and pain and suffering, dog bite victims frequently experience lasting emotional trauma. If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. The best decision you can make to protect your rights is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
Cooper Schall and Levy routinely handles dog bite claims throughout the Philadelphia area, including Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Lancaster, and Philadelphia Counties, as well as New Jersey. We have working knowledge of applicable premises liability law and Pennsylvania’s complex dog bite rules. We are committed to helping dog bite accident victims obtain just compensation and holding negligent dog owners accountable. When you become our client, we will provide you with powerful representation and caring, personal service.
Pennsylvania Dog Bite Laws
While some states rely on a “one-bite” rule and others a “strict liability” standard, Pennsylvania has a limited strict liability standard. Generally, a dog owner is responsible for the victim’s monetary damages for medical costs but not for pain and suffering or other nonmonetary damages. If the owner of a vicious dog is careless in controlling the animal, however, the owner may be liable for both monetary and nonmonetary damages, including pain and suffering.
When is a dog owner negligent in Pennsylvania?
If you have been injured by another person’s dog, you may have a basis to file a lawsuit if we can show that the dog owner was negligent. Pennsylvania courts have held that to prove negligence, the victim must be able to demonstrate the owner knew about the dog’s vicious tendencies and neglected to control it properly. A single previous bite does not necessarily mean the dog is vicious; however, a dog may display vicious tendencies without biting but rather by growling, show its teeth, or lunging at someone. It is worth noting that a dog owner who fails to restrain a dog at all times according to applicable state law can also be negligent.
At the same time, dog owners can assert defenses such as the victim:
- Was trespassing where the animal was confined
- Voluntarily assumed risk of being hurt (e.g. a veterinarian)
- Was partially to blame for the injury
Because Pennsylvania’s dog bite law is complicated, it is crucial to work with the right attorney. At Cooper Schall and Levy, we will take the time to explain the law and your rights in understandable terms. If we determine that you have a valid claim, we will vigorously pursue your claim and make sure you are treated fairly.
Common Dog Bite Injuries in Philadelphia
The degree of a dog bite injury depends on factors such as the severity of the attack, the breed of the dog, and the location of the wound. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Torn tissue or muscle
- Facial disfigurement or other severe scarring
- Trauma and emotional duress
A serious dog bite injury may even be fatal, especially when a dog attacks a small child. Also, dog bite victims typically require psychological counseling to cope with the trauma of the dog attack and related injuries. A victim may also be injured and/or traumatized by being knocked down or otherwise attacked by a dog without being bitten. Victims in this situation may sustain fractures, a head injury or a traumatic brain injury. Whether you have suffered a dog bite or were otherwise injured in a dog attack, our legal team will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Dog Bite Accident
As mentioned above, a dog bite victim may be awarded monetary and/or nonmonetary damages depending on the circumstances. Additionally, if the dog owner acted recklessly or willfully, such as by not restraining a dangerous dog or provoking a dog attack, punitive damages may also be awarded. These damages are intended to punish the dog owner’s misconduct as well as to deter other dog owners from engaging in similar misconduct.
Contact Our Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorneys
At Cooper Schall and Levy, we know that being injured in a dog bite attack is an overwhelming experience. Our legal team is dedicated to your recovery — physically, emotionally and financially. We will see to it that your receive the treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. We handle all dog bite claims on a contingency basis, which means you will not pay any attorneys’ fees unless we win you compensation. Don’t waste your time worrying about what to do after a dog bite attack. Contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.