The National Safety Council estimates you’re about as likely to die from legal execution as a dog attack. And the American Veterinary Medical Association, along with State Farm and other partners, reports the number of dog-bite insurance claims dropped by 9% last year compared to the previous year.
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, ranked fifth among the states in dog bite claims, with 161 claims totaling $5.6 million in insurance payouts. It’s always time for Pennsylvanians to review the highlights of our dog bite laws.
Dog owners are almost always responsible for medical bills
Pennsylvania is a strict liability state, meaning the dog owner is assumed to be at fault for dog bites, and they’re nearly always responsible for paying the resulting medical bills.
However, the owner isn’t typically responsible for lost paychecks and so-called “non-economic” damages, often called pain and suffering. The owner is often not responsible for medical bills if the person bitten was trespassing where the dog was confined, tormenting the dog or under certain other circumstances.
Owners may have to face harsher penalties and lawsuits
The consequences for the dog owner can become more serious. The state requires all dogs to be reasonably fenced in, leashed or otherwise prevented from injuring people.
Pennsylvania also has rules and processes for finding certain dogs to be “dangerous dogs.” If the owner has been harboring a dangerous dog, especially if they’ve been cited for it or other violations, the owner is much more likely to be liable for pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. Those damages, of course, would be on top of the medical bills for which they’re presumed to be responsible.