We are all familiar with news stories where a person is a victim of a dog bite. But how often do dog bites really occur? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Out of those incidents, approximately one in five dog bites result in serious injury. Nobody leaves their home expecting to get bitten by a dog, and yet it is important to know what to do if you or someone you know has been a victim of a dog bite. Regardless of whether a dog is feeling threatened or is just aggressive, a dog bite can lead to serious injuries. The good news is that there are things you can do to protect yourself after an incident has occurred.
Seek Medical Assistance
The first thing you should do, after making sure that either you are in a safe location or the dog issecured, is to seek medical attention. Even if the bite did not cause severe injuries, such as broken bones or disfiguring lacerations, it is still important to make sure that the wound is treated. An untreated bite from any animal can cause serious injury or infection, and in some cases it may result in death if the animal carried a disease.
Seek Legal Assistance
After obtaining medical treatment, you should also consider consulting an attorney to help determine whether you have a valid claim, and what, if any, damages you might be able to recover. In order to make a proper legal analysis of the case, the attorney will need as much information as possible. There are several things you can do in order to provide a clearer picture of the events to an attorney, such as:
- Report the incident to the police;
- Get the name and contact information of the dog owner, if possible;
- Write down the name and contact information for any witnesses;
- Take a photograph of the wound as soon as possible; and
- Take a photograph of the dog to help better identify it.
- Determine if the dog has had its “shots.”
Who is Responsible?
In Pennsylvania, as with many other states, the owner may be responsible for all damages when a person has suffered injury as a result of the attack, or if the attacking dog has previously been considered dangerous. Generally, a dog will be considered dangerous if it previously attacked another person or domesticated animal without provocation, or if it has been used in the commission of a crime. In addition to this, a victim of a dog bite can recover full compensation if the dog owner was negligent in his handling of the dog, or if the owner fails to otherwise comply with state law. An example would be failure to utilize a leash where required by law; or to ensure the dog is properly restrained.
An owner, however, may have some potential defenses available to him. For example, if the owner had adequately warned other people of the dangerous nature of the dog, and had taken measures to keep the animal restrained and away from people, then a person who ignored such efforts and warnings could be found to be comparatively liable. This means that, should the court find that the victim was negligent in his actions; the court would then reduce the award by the percentage of the victim’s fault. If the victim was found to be more at fault than the owner of the dog, then the court would not allow the victim to recover damages.
Nobody enjoys the stress and pain that come with getting bitten by a dog. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog in Pennsylvania, it is important that you contact one of the skilled, caring lawyers of Stampone Law for a free, confidential consultation.