Thousands of households in Pennsylvania feature a canine companion animal. Dogs offer friendship and an incentive to obtain daily exercise. They can be therapeutic for those with a traumatic background and can serve as an early lesson in personal responsibility for children.
For the most part, dogs help enrich the lives of those whom they encounter, even if they just have a brief interaction on the sidewalk near a public park. However, some people have the misfortune of encountering a dog that turns out to be quite violent. Aggressive animals can cause severe injuries, ranging from disfigurement and broken bones to deadly wounds in some cases.
Who is responsible for the damage inflicted by an aggressive dog after a dog bite attack in Pennsylvania?
Liability typically falls to the animal’s owner
In Pennsylvania, there is strict liability for those who own animals, especially if the animal has displayed a history of aggression. An animal that has previously attacked or attempted to bite humans and other animals may require more precautions taken on the part of the owner to protect the public.
Dog owners should train their animals, keep them restrained and maintain control over them while in public spaces. When someone fails to train their dog or keep it in a fenced area, the animal could cause severe harm to passers-by or people in public spaces. Dogs might also attack invited visitors at the owner’s home. Often, those injured by a dog can bring a claim against the animal’s owner for medical expenses and other losses they may have suffered.
There are exceptions to liability rules that apply if someone intentionally aggravates an animal by ignoring its body language or provoking it. The right to bring a claim against an animal’s owner also typically ends if someone broke the law prior to the incident, such as assaulting the owner or trespassing on their property.
Oftentimes, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance can cover the costs incurred by a victim when a dog bites an individual, meaning that the animal’s owner won’t end up paying for those expenses out of pocket. Understanding who is liable and also who will likely pay can help those who have been hurt in a recent animal attack pursue financial justice.