Dog bites can be frightening and traumatic experiences, leaving victims with physical injuries, emotional scars, and unexpected medical bills. In the cities and boroughs of Schuylkill County, PA, just like in many other parts of the country, dog bite cases are not uncommon. While many dog owners are responsible and take measures to prevent their pets from causing harm, dog bite incidents and attacks can still happen. In such cases, it's crucial to understand the legal implications and why it's important to hire an attorney to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
The Prevalence of Dog Bite Incidents in Schuylkill County, PA
Before we delve into the importance of hiring an attorney after a dog bite, it's essential to understand the scope of the issue. Dog bite incidents are not isolated occurrences but rather a nationwide concern. In Pottsville, Mahanoy City, Tamaqua, Ashland, and the surrounding areas such as Mount Carmel and Shamokin, dog bites are more common than you might think.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. That's an alarming statistic, and Schuylkill County, is not immune to this problem. The State of Pennsylvania itself ranks among the top states for reported dog bite incidents.
These statistics should serve as a stark reminder that dog bite cases are a significant and widespread problem, and they can happen to anyone at any time. It's crucial to be prepared and informed on how to protect your rights if you or a loved one becomes a victim.
The Legal Implications of Dog Bite Cases
When a dog bite occurs in Pennsylvania, there are specific legal considerations that come into play. These laws are in place to protect victims and ensure that dog owners are held accountable for the actions of their pets. Unprovoked dog bites can happen without warning and by a dog owned by a neighbor, or person you may know or visit.
Strict Liability: Pennsylvania is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means that dog owners are held responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the dog had shown aggressive behavior in the past. Even if it’s the dog’s first bite, the owner can be held liable.
- Negligence: In some cases, the owner’s negligence can also be a factor. For instance, if the dog was not properly restrained or if the owner was aware of their dog’s aggressive tendencies and failed to take appropriate precautions, they could be held accountable for negligence.
- Pennsylvania Leash Law. Pennsylvania requires dog owners to muzzle and restrain by a substantial chain or leash and under the physical restraint of a responsible person any dangerous dog outside a proper enclosure such as a locked pen to prevent children from entering or dogs from escaping.
- Vicarious liability against Landlords. A Property Owner may be held responsible for dog attacks from their guest’s dog and a Landlord may be held responsible for dog bites from their tenant’s dog in certain circumstances.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
Now, let's address the most critical aspect: why it's crucial to hire an attorney after a dog bite incident in Schuylkill County, PA.
- Understanding the Law: Dog bite laws can be complex and vary from state to state. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and the laws specific to Pennsylvania. They can guide you through the legal process.
- Maximizing Compensation: An attorney can help you seek maximum compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any other damages you've incurred as a result of the dog bite. They'll negotiate on your behalf and ensure that you're not shortchanged.
- Evidence Gathering: Attorneys have the resources and expertise to gather evidence that strengthens your case. This might include medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony to support your claims.
- Insurance Companies: Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, as they often aim to minimize payouts. An attorney can handle negotiations with insurance companies, ensuring that your rights are protected. Some insurance policies may exclude coverage for dog bites or limit the amount of policy benefit.
- Veterinarian Bills: If your pet was also attacked during a dog bite incident, you may be able to recoup medical expenses paid for your own pet as part of property damage claim since pets are considered “chattel” in Pennsylvania.
- Peace of Mind: Going through a dog bite incident can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Hiring an attorney can give you peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal aspects of your case
You will want to determine the dog’s vaccination status. You should accurately report the incident to health care providers when seeking treatment; a Department of Health report may need to be submitted on your behalf. Additionally, if you are attacked by a dog, you should also report to and cooperate with your local dog warden.
In Schuylkill County boroughs like Shenandoah, Tremont, and Schuylkill Haven, as well as the city of Pottsville, dog bite incidents are a real and common concern. Hiring an attorney with experience in handling dog bite cases is essential to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve and that the responsible dog owner is held accountable for their pet's actions. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a dog bite, don't hesitate to seek legal representation to protect your rights and well-being. Your attorney will be your advocate in seeking justice and helping you move forward after a traumatic incident.
Contact our dog bite attorneys online or by phone at (888) 268-0023 if you’ve been injured in a dog attack. The Law Offices of Anthony Urban, P.C. can help you ensure that you receive the amount of compensation you deserve after an accident.