Can you sue after a dog bite in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2019 | Personal Injury |

State law varies as to whether the court can hold a dog’s owner responsible for a bite injury. In Pennsylvania, a victim of this type of attack can seek financial recovery through a civil suit under certain circumstances.

If you or a loved one faces medical bills and lost wages after a dog bite injury, explore the possibility of recovering damages through the legal system

Rules for legal liability

Pennsylvania requires dog owners to keep “reasonable control” over their pets when in public or restrict the animal to their home or fenced yard. When a dog bites another person in public, state law holds the owner liable even if the dog has not bitten anyone before. However, if you provoked the dog or trespassed on the owner’s private property, he or she does not have financial responsibility for the attack.

Statute of limitations and damages

The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania is two years for all personal injury cases, including those involving dog bites. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time frame, you lose your opportunity to do so.

Under state law, your legal compensation extends only to medical expenses associated with the bite. The law classifies some dogs as dangerous, including an animal used to commit a crime, one that has attacked or injured a person unprovoked or one that has killed another domestic animal. If a dangerous dog bit you or if the owner behaved negligently, you can also seek damages for pain and suffering, lost wages and other costs of the injury.

When you or a family member experiences a dog attack, visit an urgent care center or emergency room right away. The doctor will disinfect and bandage the wound to prevent infection. Also, keep close track of all medical expenses you incur from the bite. Document the circumstances leading to the dog attack, and collect information from witnesses to the attack, if available.