Philadelphia Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Dogs have long been man’s best friend and are loyal pets. However, they sometimes lash out, and some breeds are capable of biting with incredible force. Dogs may bite if they feel threatened or feel the need to protect their home or their owner. While some breeds may be more dangerous than others are, any dog is capable of injuring a person, and the behavior of a dog depends on the treatment they receive from their owners and families. If you were bit by a dog that was not your own and need legal advice, contact Lee Ciccarelli for a free consultation and a free case evaluation.
Why Choose A Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer From Ciccarelli Law Offices?
The legal team at Ciccarelli Law Offices believes that dog owners are entitled to their rights if their dog bites someone without provocation, and conversely need to be held accountable if their dog injures someone due to their negligence. On either side of the table, the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices aggressively defend the rights of our clients.
Dog Bite Laws in Pennsylvania
Dog bite laws vary widely by region. In Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, dog bite law considers the severity of the injury and the dog’s history when evaluating the owner’s liability for any injuries. If a dog has a history of unprovoked attacks, generally it is considered a “dangerous dog” and must be registered and housed accordingly. A dog is labeled dangerous if it meets the following criteria:
- The dog was used to commit any crime.
- The dog previously attacked a person without provocation.
- The dog has injured any person without provocation on private or public property.
- The dog has killed or injured another domestic animal without provocation outside the owner’s property.
In Pennsylvania, there is a strict liability law when it comes to dogs, and owners must keep their dogs under reasonable control at all times, even if they are not registered as “dangerous” and have no history of violence. Pennsylvania’s strict liability law also dictates that dog owners are fully responsible for any injuries their dogs inflict.
Damages For Philadelphia Dog Bite Injuries
Our dog bite injury lawyers in Philadelphia work diligently to ensure that every client recovers full compensation after they sustain an injury caused by a dog. This includes all economic and non-economic losses caused by the incident and the subsequent recovery process.
- Economic losses. Economic damages, sometimes referred to as special damages in the personal injury claim, revolve around calculable losses that individuals are likely to sustain as a result of the dog bite injury in Philadelphia. The dog bite injury victim and their attorney will add up any bills, receipts, or proof of loss in order to recover compensation for the following:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Any follow-up medical treatment
- Prescription medications
- Lost income if a dog bite victim cannot work
- Payment for household service assistance
- Non-economic losses. Non-economic damages, often referred to as general damages, are not quite as easy to calculate as the economic losses mentioned above. Non-economic damages revolve around more immeasurable losses that dog bite injury victims in Philadelphia are likely to incur. This includes, but is not limited to, a victim’s:
- Physical pain and suffering caused by the dog bite injury and recovery process
- Emotional and psychological pain and suffering caused by the incident
- Loss of quality of life damages in cases of disability
- Scarring and disfigurement damages for severe dog bite injuries
There is no set amount of compensation available to dog bite injury victims in Philadelphia. Rather, a victim and their attorney will work diligently and examine various factors related to the incident to calculate the proper amount. Some of the factors that can affect Philadelphia dog bite victim compensation include the severity of the injuries, whether or not there is any infection that causes additional medical emergencies, the length of the recovery time, and more.
An attorney will work to add up all of the economic losses mentioned above and will typically use a multiplier method to adequately calculate non-economic damages. For example, suppose the economic losses reach $10,000. An attorney could use a multiplier method and multiply that number by “three” to reach a non-economic damage total of $30,000. Overall, an attorney would work to recover $40,000 on behalf of their client.
Philadelphia Statute of Limitations For Dog Bite Injuries
There are very specific time frames for injury claims in Philadelphia. Under Pennsylvania law, injury victims must file civil personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault party within two years from the date of the incident. Any person who fails to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party within this time frame will likely lose the ability to recover compensation.
However, many dog bite injury claims are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. Please understand that insurance carriers also have their own deadlines in place, often much shorter than the statutory deadline for personal injury claims.
Common Dog Bite Injuries In Philadelphia
Dogs have powerful jaws that can inflict significant injuries on individuals, particularly to the soft tissue of the body. These injuries can be particularly severe if they occur in crucial areas of the body near arteries.
Some of the most common injuries that we help dog bite injury victims recover compensation for include:
- Severe puncture wounds or lacerations
- Damaged veins, arteries, tendons, or ligaments
- Facial injuries
- Nerve damage
- Broken or dislocated bones (particularly in the hands)
- Head or neck injuries
Aside from these traumatic injuries that can occur, we also need to mention the heightened risk of infection caused by a dog bite incident. When a dog punctures a person’s skin, this typically introduces foreign bacteria into the body. Individuals must receive immediate medical treatment so they can be put on a course of antibiotics to help prevent dog bite incident infections. Even a seemingly minor dog bite injury can lead to significant medical issues if an infection develops.
In addition to these injuries, we must also be aware of how a dog bite incident can affect a person’s mental and emotional well-being. These are scary incidents that can lead to feelings of fear, stress, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dog Bite Statistics In Philadelphia
According to dogbites.org, approximately 1,000 individuals in the US require emergency treatment each day for serious dog bite injuries. Each year, more than 12,000 individuals must be hospitalized due to the severity of their dog bite injuries.
Data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows that there are approximately 77 million dogs in the United States. With that many dogs as pets in households, there will inevitably be dog bite incidents. In many cases, dogs mistakenly bite their owners, but due to the social nature of owning a dog, it is not uncommon for individuals outside of a dog owner’s family to also sustain bite injuries.
How To Prevent A Dog Bite Injury
One of the best ways to avoid being bitten by a dog is to learn how to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place. We strongly encourage you never to enter a situation where there is a dog roaming without a leash unless you are absolutely sure that the dog is friendly (such as at a dog park where you know the dogs present). If you ever find yourself in a situation where you notice a dog is becoming aggressive, you should remove yourself from the vicinity immediately.
If you are walking around a neighborhood or a park and see a dog that is off-leash in an area where that is not allowed, you should remove yourself from the situation until the dog has passed. There are many times when owners will claim that their dog is “friendly,” but that does not matter. Even the friendliest dogs can become scared or agitated and cause injury to another.
Finally, if you are walking your own dog, please do so with your dog on a leash. Even if you are convinced that your dog would never bite another individual, you need to keep your dog on a leash when specified to do so by law.
Defenses Against A Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawsuit
In order for a dog owner to be held accountable for injuries caused by their dog, the victim must prove that they did not provoke the dog in any way. Pennsylvania follows a comparative negligence law, meaning that the compensation a victim may receive in a civil case can be reduced by a percentage equal to their degree of fault in the incident.
The victim must also have been lawfully present on the premises on which the bite occurred. For example, if the victim was willfully trespassing on private property and the property owner’s dog bit the victim, the dog’s owner would not be liable for the trespasser’s injuries, since they were not lawfully present on the property.
Proving Negligence in Philadelphia Dog Bite Claim
If the dog owner can prove that the victim was illegally trespassing on private property or willfully provoked the dog in some way, they may be able to avoid being liable for damages. For both the victim of a dog bite and the dog’s owner, an experienced legal representative will make the process of assessing fault and claiming damages much smoother.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and know that you did nothing to provoke the animal and were legally present at the place you were bitten, you will need to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner in order to win your case. In dog bite cases, that means you need to show that the owner did not exercise reasonable care in restraining their dog. This could mean that they did not properly fence their yard or that they did not have them properly leashed in a public area, and their failure led to their dog biting someone.
Contact A Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you’ve been involved in any situation involving a dog bite, it’s crucial that you understand your legal rights. Reach out to our team of professionals to start reviewing your case today.