A dog bite attack is a traumatic and often catastrophic event. If you are the victim of a dog bite attack, the level of fear and anxiety you feel can last quite a long time. Beyond the physical and emotional trauma, you are likely facing questions about your medical bills and your future long-term health. At GSGB, our dog bite attorneys understand the various laws that govern dog bite injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and will handle the complicated issues that you face, allowing you to focus on your health. If you have suffered a dog bite injury or been attacked by a dog, call GSGB today to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.
In Pennsylvania, there are various considerations in determining whether a dog owner is liable for a dog bite injury. At GSGB, we have local personal injury attorneys that have represented many victims of dog bite injuries and understand the statutes and laws that determine whether the dog owner is responsible for the dog attack.
For starters, Pennsylvania has a law that requires dog owners to keep their dogs confined onto their property or secured by a collar and leash. If they allow their dogs to roam free and the dog attacks and injures someone, the dog owner is liable and may be responsible for compensating the person who sustained the dog bite injury. The concept applied is negligence per se, which means that breaking the law is enough to establish negligence on its own. This means that If it can be proven that a dog owner allowed its dog to roam from the house or back yard without any leash or confinement and the dog attacked and injured someone, then the dog owner is liable for the damages caused to the dog attack victim.
However, it is not enough just to prove that the dog was free of its leash or free from the house. Negligence is when a person does not exercise the reasonable degree of care that someone in their shoes should. In the case of a dog bite injury, If the dog owner can prove that he or she exercised due care to keep the dog confined, they may not be held liable for the dog bite injury. As an example, where a dog broke free of its chain and attacked someone, it was found that the dog attack victim had to show that the dog owner did not use reasonable care in chaining the dog.
While Pennsylvania refers to it as the one bite rule, it actually includes more than just prior dog bites. Similar to premises liability law, if the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had tendency for aggressive behavior, but did not take the proper safeguards to prevent someone from getting injured, then the dog owner is liable for the dog attack injuries. The reason that this rule is a little misnamed is that it extends to beyond just dog attacks and bites, and includes all types of aggressive behavior. As an example, if a sweet and lovable big dog has a tendency to jump on people and winds up jumping on someone and causing injury, the dog owner may be responsible for compensating the dog attack victim for the injuries.
In Pennsylvania, when a dog with no history of aggressive behavior attacks and injures someone without being provoked, the state divides the dog attack cases into different categories depending on how severe the dog attack injuries are.
New Jersey differs from Pennsylvania in that New Jersey’s dog bite law is a “strict liability” statute. This is different from Pennsylvania in that a dog owner in New Jersey is generally responsible for dog bite injuries resulting from the attack, regardless of the what steps he took to restrain his dog. This is the case so long as the dog attack victim was either on public property or lawfully on private property.
The dog bite law in New Jersey only applies to dog bites. Where a dog’s aggressive behavior causes injury due to jumping on the victim, or knocking them over, the negligence standard applies: In these cases, the person who sustained the dog attack injury must show that the owner did not take reasonable steps to avoid the incident. As an example, if a jogger is running down a street and a dog jumps on her breaking her leg, the victim must show that the dog owner failed to take reasonable steps to keep the dog under control. Such as leashing the dog and ensuring an adult is walking it.
If the owner of the dog that attacked and injured the victim is a renter, then the landlord may be liable for the dog bite injuries suffered by the victim. If the landlord knew the dog was on the property and knew or should have known that the dog had aggressive tendencies and did not take reasonable measures to prevent an attack, then the landlord may be held liable for the dog attack injuries. Often, landlords do not live on the premises. In these situations, an experienced dog bite injury attorney will investigate to find out what the out of possession landlord knew about the dog. Have complaints been logged in the past? Have the neighbors witnessed dangerous or aggressive behavior from the dog? Every case requires a different level of investigation, but if it can be proven that the landlord knew about the dog’s aggressive history, or should have known, and was aware the dog was on the property and did not act reasonably to protect potential attacks, then the landlord may be liable for the victim’s dog attack injuries.
If you have been attacked and injured by a dog, it is very likely you are in a state of shock and anxiety immediately after. However, there are some important steps you should try to follow.
Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual care or situation. GSGB has offices in Philadelphia, Wayne and Voorhees and serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.