Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?

Dogs have a reputation for being loyal and friendly, but they’re still animals. Any animal can respond aggressively when they feel threatened—even a dog you’ve been around for years. The larger the dog, the more damage they can do.

When you need legal advice about dog bites, it’s best to call a local attorney for assistance. They can review your claim, discuss your options and even tell you how much your dog bite lawsuit may be worth.

Suing for dog bites in Pennsylvania

If you plan to sue a dog owner for a dog bite, you have two years from the date of your injuries to file. This is called the statute of limitations. If you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, your case will be dismissed. There are very rare exceptions.

Pennsylvania laws (3 P.S. § 459-502) state that when a dog bites a person, the owner is strictly liable for the victim’s medical treatment. Even if the dog had never displayed aggressive tendencies before or the injury happened through no fault of the owner, they will still have to pay the victim’s medical bills. There is no need to prove fault; however, this does not automatically mean that you’re entitled to pain and suffering, lost income or related damages.

If the owner acted negligently, you can pursue further damages. You’ll need to prove that the owner knew the dog had “unmistakably vicious tendencies” and failed to control the dog appropriately, resulting in harm to the victim.

“Unmistakably vicious tendencies” is up to interpretation. Courts have held that it’s possible to establish viciousness without the dog having ever attacked someone before. On the other hand, even if a dog has bitten someone once before, that doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of “unmistakably vicious tendencies.”

There are two broad defenses to dog bite claims: 1) the dog was unreasonably provoked; 2) the victim was trespassing on private property.

What is a dog bite lawsuit worth?

The amount of damages you may recover depends on the specific facts of your case. Since victims are entitled to the cost of their medical bills, you can expect that those, at least, will be covered. If you file a negligence suit against the owner, you may be entitled to other kinds of damages.

For instance, you might request the owner pay for the income you lost as you recovered from your injuries—some bites are so severe that the victim cannot work as they heal. In particularly severe cases, you may ask for pain and suffering damages or the cost of future/ongoing medical treatment.

Your lawyer can tell you what you can expect from your case. If you’re looking for dog bite legal advice, call Rosato Law Offices today. We can evaluate your case and tell you what to expect from pursuing a dog bite lawsuit. Whether you get your medical bills covered or you also sue for negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries.