Dog Bites: General Liability Rule
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are statutes that form a “strict liability” for dog bites. Strict liability means that the defendant is liable in the event of a dog bite, and liability isn’t dependent on whether or not the defendant could’ve prevent the incident. The defendant is liable if the plaintiff did not provoke the dog and if the plaintiff was legally allowed to be where he was when the dog bite occurred. Under the strict liability statute, it doesn’t matter what the dog owner did or did not know about the dog prior to the incident. It’s a statute that makes proving and winning a dog bite case much easier. The theory behind the statute is that anyone who has a dog should be responsible for any damages it causes. Even if the dog owner was careful with the dog or didn’t know it would hurt anyone, he or she is still financially liable for damages. Pennsylvania also has laws that prohibit insures from canceling or denying coverage to the owners of dogs that have been classified as vicious.
Other Responsible Parties in Dog Bite Cases
Dog owners aren’t the only ones who can be held responsible for dog bits. Animal keepers, parents of minors, property owners and landlords could be held responsible. If a person under 18 years of age owns a dog and it bites someone, the minor’s parents can be liable. Property owners who allow pets on their property can be held liable. Landlords may also be liable for dog bite injuries.
Depending on the extent of the injuries resulting from a dog bite, you may be entitled to recover damages for medical costs, lost wages, scarring, pain and suffering and property damages. In some cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded when the wrongdoer’s conduct was intentional or reckless. For example, if a dog owner knew his dog was dangerous yet allowed it near a school, his conduct would be considered reckless.
Attorney Sam H. Jessee is an experienced dog bite attorney who will ensure that you receive just compensation for your damages. He also handles other personal injury cases, such as vehicular accidents and slip and falls.