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Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorney

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 4.7 million dog bites occur across the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites require medical care. That averages out to one dog bite per 69 people in the country, every year. These bites led to $530 million in insurance claims for dog bite victims. Pennsylvania is among the worst states for dog bites: The Insurance Information Institute found that Pennsylvania had the fourth highest number of dog bite insurance claims in 2016, trailing only New York, Florida, and California. Dog bites can cause severe injuries such as bone fractures or tissue damage; they can require amputation; and in extreme cases, they can be fatal.

The Most Dangerous Breeds

Researchers have found that some smaller breeds of dogs such as chihuahuas and poodles are more likely to bite. Small dog bites can cause lacerations and scarring and perhaps the loss of a finger or toe in extreme cases, but larger dogs are associated with the most serious injury bites. According to the Canine Journal, a publication that tracks and analyzes dog bite data across the country, pit bulls are the most deadly dog breed: From 2005 to 2017, pit bulls accounted for over 65% of the dog bite deaths in the U.S. Rottweilers came in a distant second place with just over 10% of the dog bite fatalities, followed by German shepherds with 4.6% .

Perhaps unsurprisingly, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers are the friendliest dogs, being the least likely to bite or otherwise inflict harm on a human.

Owner Liability for Dog Bites in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has several laws that apply specifically to dog bites, including statutes and case law. Primarily, after a dog bite you will be dealing with Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dog Laws and the Dog Bite Law. A dedicated Philadelphia dog bite injury attorney can help you ensure that you follow the letter of the law for bringing these claims in order to avoid losing out on the compensation you are owed due to a legal technicality.

Pursuant to the dog bite law, Pennsylvania dog owners can be liable for dog bite injuries even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. The injured party must show that the owner was somehow negligent, such as by failing to keep the dog restrained (e.g., kept in a house or tethered in a yard or kept on a leash in public), failing to warn others that the dog is aggressive or dangerous, or failing to keep a dog known to be dangerous away from others. A dog does not need to have bitten someone to be a known aggressive dog. Moreover, some cases have held that if a dog injures someone without provocation, then the owner is strictly liable, even if they had no reason to believe the dog was aggressive or dangerous.

Under the Dangerous Dog Law, a dog is “dangerous” if the dog: (1) severely injured a person, without provocation, on public or private grounds; (2) killed or hurt another dog or another domesticated animal on someone else’s property; (3) attacked a person without provocation; or (4) has been used to commit a crime. If a dangerous dog bites someone, the owner is strictly liable for all injuries, even if the owner did not commit any mistake that led to the attack.

Additionally, even if the dog was not dangerous and the owner made no mistake, an owner may be liable for medical expenses if the bite was severe. Severe bites involve broken bones or significant lacerations requiring stitches or surgery. Non-severe dog bites are defined as injuries that do not require significant medical intervention or cost.

Additionally, if the bite occurred on the owner’s property, you may be able to collect from their homeowner’s insurance.

Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim

Dog owners have two principal defenses against dog bite injury claims: provocation and trespass. If the dog was provoked into biting, for example if the human attacked the dog first, then the owner will not be liable. Moreover, if you were on someone else’s property without their permission, they may not be liable if their dog attacks you.

Get Medical Care And Compensation After A Serious Dog Bite

If you have been injured in a Philadelphia animal attack, personal injury attorney Christine Benedum can help you pick up the pieces with the medical care and financial compensation you need to move forward and regain your best quality of life. Call Benedum Law in Chestnut Hill at 215-LAWSUIT (215-529-7848) for a free consultation on your potential claims.

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