You are out for a walk and you see a medium sized dog, walking down the street and he doesn’t appear threatening in any way and when he comes up to you, you extend your hand to the dog and he lunges and bites your hand causing several fractures to the bones in your hand and lacerations that will leave scars that will never go away.
Do you have a claim for damages? The answer is yes.
Pennsylvania law provides that it is unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to fail to keep at all times the dog:
- Confined within the owner’s premises;
- Securely fastened by means of a collar and chain or other device so that it cannot get off the premises; and/or
- Under the reasonable control of some person.
In our situation, the dog is not on a leash and is not on somebody’s premises but rather is on the sidewalk out in the public and the owner has violated Pennsylvania Law and exposed himself/herself to liability.
Here the dog attacked a human being with out provocation
There is an Urban Legend, that dog owners can only be liable when a dog engages in an attack for the second time. This is the so-called “first bite rule” and it is not the law in Pennsylvania. To be liable, the owner must know or have reason to know of the dog’s violent or vicious propensity, but Pennsylvania Court’s have held that that propensity to attack human beings without provocation may be proven by a single incident, including the incident giving rise to your case.
Often times a dog may be owned by one person who rents a house or apartment from another person, a landlord, and the landlord may be the only person financially responsible, that is with assets to pay a judgment or with insurance to cover a judgement.
Pennsylvania Courts have made it somewhat difficult to recover against a landlord who does not live on the premises, unless it can be shown that the landlord had actual notice that the dog was on the premises, the dog had vicious and dangerous propensities and that the landlord had the ability to get the dog removed from the premises and did not do so.
If a claim is brought against a dog owner for the dog’s attack, the injured person can recover for medical bills that were occurred, pain and suffering endured, the loss of life’s pleasures caused by the incident, lost wages including future lost wages, if any, and often times for permanent scarring.
The recovery can be substantial
If you feel you have a claim after a dog attack, contact QuatriniRafferty as soon as possible so that the necessary investigation can begin and we can nail down the facts of the dog’s nature, the owner’s identity and all of the other facts including photographs that may be necessary.