Cooper Schall & Levy discusses what you need to know about dog bite laws in Pennsylvania

5 Things You Need to Know About Dog Bite Laws in Pennsylvania

Dog bites can range from minor injuries that heal within a few weeks to traumatic injuries that result in permanent scarring, nerve damage, and other impairments or disabilities. The mental and emotional injuries from dog bites can last a lifetime. If a dog caused you injury, you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages under Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws. A Pennsylvania personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence to prove liability and document your damages.

1. Pennsylvania Has A Leash Law

Dog owners are required by law to maintain control over their dogs at all times. Maintaining control or restraining a dog may be accomplished in several ways including:

  • Confining the dog to the owner’s premises;
  • Securing the dog with a chain and collar or other device so it cannot wander off the premises; or,
  • Under the reasonable control of a person.

Many dog owners build fences, keep their dogs indoors, and use leashes whenever their dogs are not indoors or tethered in place on the premises. Owners who violate leash laws may be held liable for damages if the dog bites another person or attacks another animal.

2. Pennsylvania Has A Dangerous Dog Statute

A dog that is considered “dangerous” under the elements outlined in the statute must be registered, contained, and insured. Owners of dangerous dogs must also post clear, visible warning signs on the property where the dog is kept or housed. Failing to abide by the requirements of the dangerous dog statute can result in fines and penalties, in addition to liability for personal injuries.

A dog may be dangerous who:

  • Caused serious injury to a person without provocation;
  • Caused serious injury or death to a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s premises;
  • Attacked a person without provocation;
  • Was used by a person to commit a crime; or;
  • Has a history of attacking people or animals without provocation or demonstrates a propensity to attack.

3. Trespass and Provocation are Defenses to Dog Bite Claims

A dog owner may have one or more defenses available to claims for damages caused by a dog bite or dog attack. If the dog owner can show that the person was trespassing on the dog owner’s property or the person provoked the dog, the dog owner may not be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by the dog.

4. Cities and Counties May Have Specific Laws

In addition to state laws, cities, and counties may have leash laws or other laws pertaining to restraining or confining animals. If a dog bites a person, local animal control laws may be used to prove negligence or wrongdoing for a personal injury claim.

5. Time Is Limited to File Dog Bite Claims in Pennsylvania

The state’s Statute of Limitations limits a victim’s time to file a personal injury lawsuit related to a dog bite. In most cases, you only have two years from the date of the bite or attack to file a lawsuit claiming damages. If the victim of a dog bite is a child, the child typically has two years from his or her 18th birthday to file a dog bite lawsuit. Because there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, it is best to seek the advice of a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after an attack.

Contact a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

Dog bite injury claims can be complex. Proving a dog owner is liable for damages can be challenging. The Pennsylvania dog bite injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy understand dog bite laws and can investigate the incident to search for evidence that proves the dog owner is liable for your injuries and damages. Contact us today.