Pittsburgh Dog Bite Lawyers
If you have been attacked by a dog, you may be suffering with awful injuries and mounting medical bills. You may be wondering if you should pursue a dog bite injury case. Unfortunately, you are among the many facing this issue. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 4.7 million people suffered dog bites in 2017. Of those 4.7 million, upwards of 800,000 people needed to seek professional medical attention. Although dogs can be cute, playful, and make great companions, these statistics convey that dogs can also be quite unpredictable and pose a safety risk to the public at large. The victims of a dog bite know this better than anyone, as dog attacks, if not fatal, frequently leave you with puncture wounds, facial lacerations, ugly disfigurement, scarring, nerve/tendon damage, and permanent psychological damage. These injuries are difficult for any adult to handle, but can be downright catastrophic when the bite victim is only a child.
Defending a Dog Bite Case
Dog bite liability laws vary from state to state and can be complicated and perplexing as the legal outcome can vary depending on the unique circumstance of each case. If you or a loved one in the Pittsburgh area are the victim of a dog attack, you need to hire a seasoned Pittsburgh dog bite attorney with firsthand knowledge and experience handling Pennsylvania dog bite cases. We are a group of Pittsburgh injury attorneys with years of experience representing Pennsylvania dog bite victims. We have an outstanding reputation for getting our clients excellent outcomes. We know the lay of the land in the dog bite world, and have secured large compensation awards for our clients from dog owners, landlords, homeowner insurance carriers, and rental insurance carriers alike.
In assisting our clients, we frequently team-up with medical professionals such as plastic surgeons and mental health experts to properly vet out the full nature and extent of your dog bite injuries, and any future medical procedures and therapeutic modalities you may require moving forward with your life. It is this thorough approach that separates us from other attorneys and law firms, and solidifies our reputation for garnering top-dollar settlements and high jury awards for our clients.
Pennsylvania Dog Bite Claim Rules and Statutes
In Pennsylvania, an adult victim of a dog attack generally has a 2-year statute of limitations in which to pursue their case. A statute of limitations is simply a filing deadline. If one has not reached a settlement for their injures with the liable parties, they must file a lawsuit in court within 2 years of the date of their injury, or they will be forever precluded from pursuing their case, thereby losing the opportunity to get properly compensated. The statute of limitations may be extended if the dog bite victim is under 18 years of age. It is important to retain legal representation from an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after the incident to be sure to ascertain the correct filing deadlines to protect your cause of action.
Retaining a skilled dog bite attorney as soon as possible is also important because it affords your attorney the opportunity to conduct an early and thorough examination of your case. In conducting our initial investigation, we are meticulous about interviewing all witnesses and people with prior knowledge of the dog’s past vicious propensities. Too many attorneys fail to conduct thorough evaluations at the outset of the case. As a result, they do harm to their client’s cases, as vital physical evidence is lost or destroyed, along with crucial witness testimony that is forgotten or lost due to the witness relocating or becoming hard to find. Our aggressive and uncompromising investigative diligence sets us apart from other attorneys and firms and allows us to swiftly secure lucrative outcomes in even the toughest of cases.
Pennsylvania dog bite laws are controlled by statute and case law. Generally speaking, the law imposes a limited strict liability upon a dog owner for a victim’s medical bills only. In other words, Pennsylvania holds a dog owner liable for the medical costs of a victim absent a showing that the owner had any prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendencies or propensities anytime a dog attacks or bites someone. It is important to note that, under these circumstances, the only damages a victim may recover are for their medical costs.
If the victim wishes to recover full compensation for other economic and non-economic damages and losses such as pain and suffering, permanent scarring/disfigurement, and past and future lost wages, the victim must pursue a negligence claim against the owner. In a negligence action, the victim must prove that the owner knew of the dog’s unmistakable vicious tendencies, and, that despite such knowledge, they failed to properly control the dog. What constitutes “vicious tendencies” is often a matter of fact that varies from case to case.
In addition to establishing the proper factual elements to make out a successful dog bite claim for negligence, other practical considerations frequently come into play in order for the victim to receive full monetary recovery. For example, what good is there in pursuing a case against a dog owner who has neither homeowners or rental insurance, nor any money or assets? And how can one get a recovery if the dog owner or landlord’s insurance policy excludes from coverage certain dog bite cases? Issues such as these arise in nearly every dog bite case, and if not properly dealt with, it will stand in the way of you ever receiving compensation for your injuries. We have extensive experience in navigating our clients through these and other issues to ensure that our clients successfully pursue their claim against all solvent parties who are liable for their injuries so that they may receive the maximum compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do If I’m Bitten by a Dog?
If you’re bitten by a dog, the first thing that you need to do is get medical care. There’s nothing more important than seeking medical care and getting on the road to recovery. At the same time, it’s very important, also, to identify the dog and identify the dog’s owner if possible. In doing that, you may need to report the incident to your local police. Soon after that, it’s also important for you to contact a trial lawyer with experience representing people who were victims of dog attacks. It might be necessary to prove that that dog had a propensity to attack or that dog had been involved in prior attacks. An experienced lawyer will know how to go about documenting and proving that and representing you in court.
What Should I Ask the Dog Owner?
If you’re bit by a dog and the owner or handler of the dog is available, the first and most important question you want to ask is whether that dog is up to date in its rabies vaccine and other shots. There’s nothing more important than your health, so your first focus should be on getting the information that you’ll need to provide to your doctor, so that you can get the proper medical care. Beyond that, if you’re able to at that time, you want to ask that owner about the dog including the dog’s name, how old the dog is, how long they’ve had the dog, and whether that dog has ever attacked or bitten anyone in the past.
Who Am I Bringing a Claim Against?
Not long ago, someone who was bitten by a dog and seriously injured decided that they didn’t want to pursue with a claim because they didn’t want to sue a neighbor. I explained to that person that dog bites are often covered by a person’s homeowner’s insurance. The first step that an experienced lawyer would take would be contacting the dog owner’s insurance company. Many times, these claims can be resolved through negotiations with the insurance company. Only if the insurance company refuses, will it be necessary to proceed with a lawsuit against the dog’s owner and those instances are few and far between.
Who is Liable for the Attack?
If you’re bit by a dog or injured in a dog attack, in addition to looking at the dog owner’s responsibility, it’s also possible to look at whether it’s someone else that may have done something wrong and may be responsible for your injuries such as a dog walker or dog sitter. An experienced lawyer who has represented people in similar cases will know the questions to ask and the type of investigation to undertake in order to prove whether there is liability.
What if There Was a Beware of Dog Sign?
In Pennsylvania, there is what people call the “one bite” rule. People think this means that you can only recover if a dog has previously bitten someone, but there are other factors, that should be looked at to determine whether there’s liability for a dog attack. One might be whether there are “Beware of Dog” signs posted. Although some people think that that means there is no responsibility because you were warned, in fact, that sign might be evidence that the dog owner, knew about their dog’s propensity to attack and knew that their dog was dangerous. The mere hanging of a sign is not doing enough to protect you from that dog attack.
What Does the One Bite Rule Mean for Me?
I’ve had conversations with people who have been bitten by dogs who thought that there was nothing they could do because of the “one bite” rule. Those people thought that if they couldn’t prove that the dog had bitten someone previously, there was no claim for them. That’s really not true under Pennsylvania law. You also can make a claim if you can prove that the dog has a vicious propensity. Vicious propensity can be proven not just by having bitten someone before, but by particular characteristics of that dog that the owner had knowledge of. You’ll have to prove the owner’s negligence under the circumstances that allowed the dog to attack or bite you.
It’s important that you contact a lawyer who has experience and understands the law in regard to dog bites. That lawyer will be able to guide you and let you know whether, under the facts of your attack, you have a claim or not.
Call Our Pittsburgh Dog Bite Lawyers Today
Injuries from dog attacks can be traumatic, life altering, and extremely costly. Dog attacks can cause severe nerve damage, permanent physical pain, unsightly scars, and permanent psychological damage as well. If you or a loved one were the victim of a dog attack, you only have one chance to get the proper compensation that you deserve for your injuries. We are experienced Pittsburgh dog bite lawyers here to aggressively fight and advocate for you every step of the way. With an outstanding history of obtaining excellent results for our clients, we are injury attorneys you can trust! When you retain us, we begin work on your case immediately to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Call today for a free consultation and we will get you in right away. While you recover from your injuries you can rest soundly knowing that your case is in the hands of highly competent and experienced Pittsburgh dog bite lawyers who care. Call us today!