According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 60 million households in the United States have at least one dog as a family pet. The State of Pennsylvania provides animal control laws for the safety of all of its residents and visitors and also for the safety of the animals themselves. Beaver County residents who have a pet dog must purchase a Beaver County dog license through the treasurer’s office. Most of the time dogs are harmless family companions, but sometimes dogs can be dangerous, especially when they bite or attack people.
Pennsylvania dog bite law
Pennsylvania animal control laws provide that dogs must be under control and not allowed to run at large. Dogs may not leave their owners’ property unless they are on a leash or otherwise restrained. Dog bites, no matter how minor, are required to be reported to the proper authority in every case.
Dog bite cases
In Pennsylvania, dog bite and dog attack cases that are easiest for victims to prove and receive financial recovery for include the following scenarios:
- When an owner is in violation of any animal control law at the time that the bite or attack occurred, such as a dog being off leash outside of the owner’s property.
- When a dog is a dangerous animal because it had previously bitten a person or other domestic animal or when a dog had previously exhibited behaviors which would cause a reasonable person to think the dog had dangerous propensities, such as growling and bearing its teeth at people.
- When a dog bite causes “serious” injuries, which is defined under Pennsylvania law to include resulting broken bones or lacerations requiring sutures or cosmetic surgery.
When a dog bite causes non-serious injuries, there was no animal control law violation, no prior attack, and no prior warning that the dog may bite or attack, a case for owner negligence would be hard to prove, however, that does not mean that the victim is not able to recover for medical bills (see “Dog bite recovery” below). It also means that when the bite is reported, the dog will likely be considered a dangerous dog and heightened security measures will need to be taken such as requiring the dog to wear a muzzle anytime it is outside of the owner’s home.
Dog bite recovery
Recovery for injuries and damages depends on the circumstances of the dog bite and the extent of the injuries sustained. In any of the easier to prove cases listed above (violation of animal control law, dangerous dog, serious injuries) the plaintiff may be allowed to recover for any injuries and damages sustained that would be recoverable in other types of personal injury cases. In the harder to prove scenario mentioned above (no legal violation, no prior bite or tendencies, non-serious injuries) a plaintiff will still usually be able to recover for medical bills related to the bite.