The domestication of dogs by mankind has changed what was once a vicious animal into man’s best friend. Notwithstanding man’s efforts to turn these animals into companions, there are still infrequent occurrences when their behavior does not match their generally playful demeanor. In those rare instances when canines act more like vicious wild animals than furry friends, Kozloff Stoudt’s personal injury attorneys stand ready to help dog bite victims from the Philadelphia area obtain the compensation that they deserve for their injuries.
As a service to the public, we feel it incumbent upon ourselves to educate our readers about some of the legal issues implicated by dog bites in Pennsylvania. Dog owners and persons affected by dog bite injuries should be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to the vicious behavior of dogs, including the following quick legal facts:
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Injuries
Individuals with a potential dog bite claim must act quickly to seek compensation for their injuries. Just as is the case with any other personal injury litigation in Pennsylvania, a person injured by a dog bite must file his or her case within two years of the date on which the injury took place. Failure to file by this deadline could potentially lead to the victim’s claim being time-barred under the Statute of Limitations.
Absolute Liability for Dogs with Vicious Propensities
Although negligence concepts still apply to all dog ownership, a dog’s owner must have some notice of the vicious propensity of the dog in order to be held absolutely liable for an attack by a dog. Such notice can be established by proof that the dog previously attacked an individual, that the dog growls at passersby, or that the dog has previously chased after persons in a vicious manner. An owner retains a dog with a vicious propensity at his or her own peril and can be held liable if he or she fails to take the proper steps to prevent the dog from injuring others during future attacks.
Requirements for Keeping Dangerous Dogs
Under Pennsylvania’s Dog Law, a “dangerous dog” is one that has been determined (1) to have either: (a) inflicted a severe injury on a human without provocation, (b) killed or severely injured a pet without provocation while off the owner’s property, (c) attacked a human being without provocation or (d) been used in the commission of a crime; and (2) to have either a history or a propensity to attack human beings and/or pets without provocation.
Once a dog is determined to qualify as a “dangerous dog,” its owner must keep the dog muzzled and physically restrained by a chain or leash under the control of a responsible person. When back at home, the dangerous dog must be confined in an enclosed space, and the owner must prominently display signs with warning symbols that inform children of the presence of dangerous dogs. Dangerous dogs must also be microchipped and either spayed or neutered by a veterinarian and annually registered with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The owner of a dangerous dog must also obtain a bond or a liability insurance policy that provides coverage for any personal injuries inflicted by their pet.
If you or a loved one has suffered medical problems or pain from a dog bite, you can turn to one of our injury law attorneys in the Philadelphia region. We will provide you with a free initial consultation and inform you about your rights in such a situation. You can contact our legal professionals by calling 610-370-6700 or by filling out a contact form on our website.