Dog attacks can be unpredictable and often unpreventable. They can happen anytime, anywhere. The dog can be a beloved family pet or the pet of a relative, friend, neighbor or even a stranger. The attack can happen in a home or on the on the streets. Dog bite injuries can be minor, severe, and in some cases, fatal. Dog bite injury victims and their families should not be left with the financial burden of medical expenses. Who should bear the financial responsibility for dog bite injuries?
Although the attack is not the fault of the dog owner, he or she is responsible for animal. Because in many cases the dog owner is a friend, neighbor or even a relative, the victim may feel bad pursuing compensation through legal action. However, Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer Jon Ostroff advises that in most instances, the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy will pay the claim. The insurance company will bear the financial responsibility for the dog bite injuries. Compensation will not come directly from the dog owner.
If the dog’s owner is renting a home or apartment, his or her renter’s insurance should cover the damages. According to Farmers Insurance, “With some exceptions, liability coverage does cover a renter if their dog bites a guest, a neighbor, or stranger, either on or off the property.”
In some rare circumstances, the owner’s landlord may be responsible for dog bite injuries in addition to the owner, suggests NOLO article Landlord Liability for Tenants’ Dogs. However, this is a very rare situation. In most cases the landlord will not be held responsible for dog bite injuries. Usually, the landlord will only be found responsible if he or she knew the dog was dangerous and could have had the dog removed, or the landlord cared for or had some control over the dog. If a landlord is found financially liable, his or her liability insurance may cover the damages. For dog owners residing within a community with a homeowner’s association, the liability of the s association is determined in a similar manner as a landlord.
While liability insurance will take the responsibility of the dog bite injuries off the pet owner’s shoulders, there are some cases in which the owner may be held personally responsible. A dog with a history of inflicting serious or fatal injuries without provocation or has been used to commit a crime, is considered a “dangerous dog”. The owner of a dangerous dog must register the dog with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and must keep the dog confined. If a “dangerous dog” is not confined and attacks a human being or another animal, the owner may be financially responsible for dog bite injuries, FindLaw reported.
Individuals who suffered a dog bite injury are urged to speak with a Pennsylvania dog bite lawyer to discuss their legal options and to preserve their right to seek compensation. According to Ostroff, Pennsylvania dog bite injury victims are only required to prove that you sustained a significant injury or a permanent scar to be eligible for money damages. If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury, contact Jon Ostroff to discuss your legal options.