Dogs are our trusted companions and our best friends. Most of the time, dogs provide loving companionship to individuals and families alike. However, every year, individuals suffer injuries from dog bites. Sometimes, even dogs that seem friendly and non-aggressive bite people, causing serious injuries, and in rare cases, death. If you have suffered from injuries caused by a dog bite, you might be entitled to damages through a Philadelphia personal injury lawsuit.
At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., we understand what it takes to succeed in winning dog bite personal injury lawsuits. We fight hard for our clients’ rights to compensation. Contact our Philadelphia personal injury law firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how our attorneys can help you.
How Common are Dog Bite Injuries?
Every year, more than 4.5 million people receive dog bites in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 800,000 people received medical attention for dog bites each year. Over half of dog bite victims are children. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, community knowledge about dog bites is essential for the following reasons:
- Almost one out of every five people who receive dog bites require medical treatment
- Children are more likely to be severely injured by dog bites than adults
- Most child dog bites occur during everyday activities
- Most child dog bites occur while children are interacting with familiar dogs.
Many people assume that if a dog is small and non-threatening, it probably will not bite. However, any dog, no matter the size or breed can bite under the right circumstances. Even the most loving pets can bite when they are frightened or provoked. Biting is a natural reaction to certain conditions. A dog’s individual behavior and history are the only predictors of which dogs will bite. Yet, even dogs who have no history of snapping, biting, or otherwise acting aggressively can suddenly and tragically bite.
Common Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
When dogs exhibit territorial, and aggressive behaviors, they can lash out and bite, even if their owner has properly trained them. The severity of the injury from a dog attack depends on several factors. Some dog bites leave only a bruise behind. The injuries from a dog biting once are less severe than injuries from dogs who engage in a prolonged attack. Philadelphia dog bites can result in one or more of the following types of injuries:
- Nerve damage
- Emotional distress
- Puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Face injuries
- Head and neck injuries
All of these injuries have the potential to generate extensive medical bills. People might have to take time off of work and miss out on pay. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite, it is often advantageous to seek out treatment from a medical professional who will conduct a comprehensive evaluation.
Why do Dogs Bite?
Dogs may be more prone to bite in any of the following situations:
- A dog feels threatened
- A dog feels the need to defend its territory or itself
- A dog can bite to protect something valuable like a toy, their puppies, or food
- A dog might bite because he or she is not feeling well
- A dog might bite for fun during play
- A dog lacks proper socialization and becomes easily threatened
Owners can take steps to prevent their dogs from biting someone else. Socializing dogs can help pets become at ease and comfortable in different situations. When traveling in public with a dog, always be sure to put him or her on a lease and hold the leash close to yourself. Dogs are more likely to go off-leash when they are in public and in a new environment. Spaying or neutering your pet, and making sure they receive proper training and exercise is essential.
Tips for Avoiding Dog Bites
Not placing yourself or your children in risky situations is a good way to avoid dog bites. Train yourself and teach your children to avoid petting dogs in any of the following scenarios:
- If a dog is sick or injured
- If a dog is with her puppies and gives off protective body language
- If a dog appears to be looking for alone time or hiding
- If the dog is with a stranger
- If the owner does not give permission to pet the dog
- Never pet a dog who is on the other side of a fence
- The dog is eating or sleeping
Recovering Compensation for Philadelphia Dog Bite Injuries
If you have suffered a dog bite injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Under Pennsylvania law, severely injured dog bite victims can make a claim against the dog’s owner for medical expenses and other damages. A severe injury constitutes “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.”
Dog Bites at Common Law
When a dog bite does not cause severe damages, the victim may be able to recover damages under Pennsylvania common law. The common-law rule is often called the one-bite rule. A victim can recover money damages for injuries caused by a dog bite when the dog has previously bitten someone or showed a tendency to bite someone.
When Dog Bites Cause Severe Injury
The dog bite victim must prove that the dog inflicted severe injury and that he or she did not provoke the dog when the bite occurred. Whether or not a dog had previously bitten someone is irrelevant under Pennsylvania law. When dog bites result in severe injuries, Pennsylvania courts recognize the doctrine of strict liability. Thus, regardless of the other circumstances, as long as the victim can demonstrate the severity of his or her injury and prove that he or she did not provoke the dog, the victim can receive monetary damages.
Our Philadelphia Dog Bite Attorneys can Help
Those injured by dog bites could have several different potential legal claims. For example, the injured party may be able to bring a claim against the dog owner, the breeder of the dog, or the municipality in which the accident happened. At Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., our attorneys have helped many clients successfully file personal injury lawsuits. If you have suffered an injury from a dog bite, contact our law office today to find out how we can help you.