Dog Bite Lawyer Bucks County
We are a nation of animal lovers. Millions of Americans own dogs, and they are actively embraced by many communities, with dog parks, dog-friendly restaurants, and other services catering to both owner and animal. Bucks County is no exception. However, despite society’s warm embrace of this particular animal, dogs remain just that - animals. They are often unpredictable and as a result, potentially dangerous.
Scores of thousands, if not millions, of people are victims of some dog-related injury ever year. However, due to our undeniably intimate relationships with these animals, the stigma for pursuing a case against a dog and its owner is significant. Consequently, most dog attacks are never reported. This is a mistake. Dog owners need to be held liable for the actions of their animals and if the dog is dangerous, it needs to be handled accordingly. In Pennsylvania, the law is quite clear in placing the responsibility for the actions of a dog squarely upon its owner. If you have been injured by a Dog Bite or attack, you should contact The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Law and Civil Consequences in Bucks County
Dog Bite law in Pennsylvania is established in the aptly named “Dog Law.” The seminal cases in interpreting the law are Miller v. Hurst and Commonwealth v. Hake. Through these cases and the Act which establishes the Dog Law, the area of Dog Bite law is both clear and predictable with created categories of victims which treat them differently based upon scienter and the degree of injury.
Scienter is a legal term which refers to a state of mind, which in the issue of dog bites concerns whether the owner of the dog knew or should have known of the animal’s dangerous propensities. The “ONE-BITE RULE” allows a victim to recover in full based upon this legal principle – so long as the dog has bitten someone in the past, or the owner should have known of the animal’s being potentially dangerous (based upon breed or other factors.)
In the instance of a first bite scenario, where the aforementioned scienter is not at issue, the degree of injury is the prevailing factor in determining the appropriate remedy. Injuries are classified as either a “SEVERE INJURY” or “NON-SEVERE INJURY.” A severe injury is defined by The Dog Law as one which “results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.” A severely injured victim can recover from the dog owner for medical expenses, all other financial losses, and legal damages. In order to recover on this basis, the severely injured victim must prove: (1) the dog inflicted severe injury, and (2) did so without provocation. The propensity of the animal is not a factor under this claim.
A non-severe injury provides the victim recovery only to the extent of medical expenses. However, as recovery is limited, the burden on the victim is as well. Rather than having to prove that the injury was inflicted by the animal without provocation, the victim need only show that the dog belongs to the defendant.
However, there is an avenue available to severely and non-severely injured victims to base claims for full compensation. They may choose to utilize the legal doctrines of “NEGLIGENCE” or “NEGLIGENCE PER SE.” Pennsylvania law requires that owners maintain control over their dogs through either physical structures or leashes. When the owner fails to maintain control over their animal, the victim may choose to establish that the owner was negligent in losing control of the dog, and thereby did not adhere to the control requirements of the Dog Law. However, strict liability is not imposed under the doctrine of negligence per se, so it is important to remember that the violation of the Dog Law must be shown to be the cause in fact of the injury.
Beyond civil ramifications, an individual can face criminal consequences for harboring a dangerous dog. In summary of the dangerous dog law, an individual will be guilty of the summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog if:
- The dog has ever severely injured a person, severely injured or killed a domestic animal off the owner’s property, attacked a person, and/or been used in the commission of a crime;
- The dog has a history of attacking people or domestic animals and/or a propensity to attack people or domestic animals without provocation;
This is not the entirety of the law. More serious penalty and consequences for both the owner and the animal may apply based upon the severity of the matter.
While the law is clear about the liability and consequences of a dog bite and recovery for victims, this is simply the legal standard. You still must actually prove your case. While the bite itself is rarely at issue, the issues of scienter, degree of injury, and negligence are usually contested. To do present your case strongly, you need a Skilled Attorney.
If you were Bit by a Dog, the odds are that you deserve to recover for the injury. Do not be one of the masses who inexplicably refuse to pursue their rights in a Dog Bite matter. Contact The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to schedule a free consultation at our conveniently located new Bucks County location to meet with an attorney and discuss your options and potential recovery. As the victim, you deserve to be made whole for your injury.This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.