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What to Do After Your Dog Bites Someone: Navigating Pennsylvania Law

Dog owners in Philadelphia often go to great lengths to ensure their pets are well-behaved and do not pose a threat to others. Despite these efforts, dog bite incidents can still happen. So, if your dog bites someone, what steps should you take? And how does Pennsylvania law impact your potential liability in this situation?

Step 1: Get Immediate Medical Attention

It’s crucial to understand that any dog bite, no matter how minor it may seem, requires immediate medical attention. Unattended dog bite wounds can easily become infected and lead to severe, even life-threatening complications. As the dog owner, it is your responsibility to:

  • Administer first aid to the victim, including applying pressure to any open wounds.
  • Call 911 to ensure that emergency medical personnel arrive promptly to provide necessary care.
  • Make sure your dog is properly restrained to prevent any further harm.

Step 2: Obtain Contact Information

If the victim is someone you don’t know personally, it’s essential to exchange basic contact information. Treat a dog bite incident as you would a car accident. Collect the following information from the victim:

  • Name
  • Telephone number
  • Mailing address
  • Email address

Additionally, gather similar information from any third-party witnesses who may have observed the incident.

Step 3: Contact Your Insurance Company

If the dog bite occurred on your property, such as at your home, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy might cover the victim’s medical expenses and other related losses. Therefore, it’s vital to notify your insurance company as soon as possible to preserve your potential coverage rights.

Step 4: Consult an Attorney

While you might be tempted to downplay the seriousness of a dog bite, especially if the injuries appear minor, it’s a wise decision to consult with a Philadelphia premises liability attorney experienced in dog bite cases. An attorney can assess the circumstances and inform you about your potential liability should the victim decide to file a personal injury claim.

Under Pennsylvania law, a dog owner is responsible for covering the cost of a victim’s “medical treatment” following a bite or attack. This law doesn’t require the victim to prove negligence on your part in handling or restraining your dog. However, it’s important to note that the statute does not cover the victim’s other damages, such as lost wages or pain and suffering. The victim may still pursue a separate legal claim against you based on negligence.

Moreover, an attorney can also provide guidance regarding potential criminal liability. In Pennsylvania, it’s a misdemeanor offense to “harbor a dangerous dog.” If convicted, you may be ordered to pay a fine, register your dog with the state, and keep the animal confined in a proper enclosure on your property at all times.

If you need legal advice or assistance in connection with a dog bite incident, don’t hesitate to contact Quinn Law Group today to schedule a consultation. Your legal rights and responsibilities matter, and we are here to help you navigate this complex situation.