Dog bite injury cases are typically straightforward, with a clearly liable party.
That is because Pennsylvania is a strict liability state, meaning dog owners are nearly always liable.
Dog owner liability
According to the legal concept of strict liability, the dog owner is responsible for the dog’s actions, even if the animal has no history of aggression or violence. The owner can take every measure possible to prevent or stop an attack and still be responsible. For example, if you walk by someone on the sidewalk who has a trained, leashed dog, they would still be liable if the dog attacked.
In Pennsylvania, you can file a personal injury claim for medical expenses. Under strict liability, you cannot recover pain and suffering or loss of income damages, but you can if you file a negligence claim through the civil court to seek those losses.
Injured person’s liability
Under specific circumstances, you could be liable for your own damages if someone else’s dog attacks you. For example, if you file a claim, the dog owner may reply with one of the following claims:
- You assumed the risk of attack voluntarily, which can apply if you are a veterinarian treating the defendant’s dog.
- You trespassed on the owner’s property at the time of the attack, even if you just passed through the yard.
- The dog escaped a fenced yard designed to keep them in.
Even if you are partially liable, you could still recover partial damages under the modified comparative negligence rule.
Dog bite claims are not often challenging, but you will need to provide evidence to prove negligence.