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Dog bite laws in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2020 | Injuries

Pennsylvania residents should know about the specific laws regarding dog bites. First of all, if they were bitten by a dog, they will want to treat the wound, scrubbing it with soap and water; determine whether the dog is wild or a pet; obtain the owner’s contact information, if applicable; and report the incident to the Division of Disease Control.

The state has an animal confinement law, which requires all animals to be either securely within the owner’s property or restrained by collar and chain. There are exceptions, such as when a dog is participating in a hunt or an exhibition. Most dog bite incidents involve a breaking of this law, which can be termed an act of negligence.

However, owners may be free from blame if they exercised reasonable care. For instance, a dog may break the chain that the owner made reasonably secure and attack. In addition, under the one-bite rule, owners may not be held responsible if a dog with no history of aggression attacks for the first time.

Victims, for their part, must show that they did not trespass on anyone’s property, provoke the dog or do anything else negligent or against the law. They must also file their claim within two years of the incident.

A personal injury case involving a dog bite could, if successful, result in an extensive settlement covering medical expenses, rehabilitative care, lost wages and pain and suffering. It can be hard to argue such a case, though, so victims may want legal assistance. A lawyer may have investigators gather proof against the dog owner, such as eyewitness testimony, before moving on to the negotiations for a settlement. If the insurance company refuses to pay out, the lawyer may discuss the process of litigation with victims.