What you need to know about strict liability and medical expenses
In most U.S. states, dog owners are held to “strict liability” laws that leave them responsible for dog bite injuries under most circumstances. Whether or not the owner was negligent or the dog had aggressive episodes in the past, the owner is still typically considered responsible for the attack. In Pennsylvania, a dog owner is “strictly liable” for medical costs incurred by the victim. However, in order to recover damages like lost wages or pain and suffering in Pennsylvania, it must be proven that the dog owner was negligent.
What to expect from a case against a negligent dog owner
You may be entitled to compensation beyond medical costs if the dog’s owner exhibited negligent or unreasonably careless behavior. In general, for a dog owner to be considered negligent in Pennsylvania, they must meet the following criteria:
- Awareness of the dog’s previous record of “unmistakably vicious tendencies”
- Negligent control over the animal
It is up to the victim to prove the dog owner’s negligent behaviors in court, which can be a complicated matter. Just because a dog has bitten someone in the past doesn’t necessarily qualify the dog as having vicious tendencies. That is why it is extremely important to hire the right attorney to handle your case.
How dog owners can protect themselves in court
There are several ways dog owners can defend themselves in these types of situations. If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, it’s best to be prepared for these possible arguments.
Dog owners in a dog bite case may try to defend themselves by claiming that the victim was:
- In part to blame for the attack
- At voluntary risk (in the case of a veterinarian or animal professional)
- Trespassing into private property where the animal was contained
- Attacked after the dog escaped from a yard that was properly fenced
Pennsylvania’s “comparative negligence” rule states that if the victim is considered at greater fault than the owner, the victim is not eligible for compensation. If the victim is 50 percent or less at fault, the compensation will be proportional to the percent at fault.
Proving negligence in a dog bite case can be complicated and time consuming. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help you streamline the process while maximizing your reward. Qualified Counsel can help you find a lawyer with extensive experience with dog bite cases and a track record of positive results.