At Hasner and Hasner, PA, we are proponents of responsible pet ownership. The 2nd most popular pet in the United States after cats is dogs. Many people own and love dogs. Also, many people adopted dogs during the COVID19 pandemic and lockdown. If you are one of those that owns a dog or is around dogs on a consistent basis, we are excited for you as they can bring joy and color to your life.
It is important to enjoy dog ownership in a SAFE way. Do your best to get as much of a history as you can on your dog, or the dog that you are encountering. What is the breed? Does that breed have a history of being aggressive or biting? Has your particular dog ever bitten anyone before? How does your dog behave with other dogs? How does your dog behave with children? How does your dog behave with strangers?
Getting answers to these questions should be done in a very careful way. Always leash and take close control of your dog when the dog is in new situations or when the dog is outside.
In New Jersey, if a dog bites a person, there is a strict liability statute for the owner of the dog. This means that even if that dog had never bit anyone prior to that incident, the owner is still responsible for the pain and suffering and injury caused by that bite.
In Pennsylvania, if a dog bites a person, there is no strict liability statute like there is in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, in order to make a recovery for injury caused by a dog bite, one must demonstrate the dog owner’s negligence. This negligence can be demonstrated if the dog bit someone in the past, such that the dog owner was aware that the dog was capable of biting a person. It can also be evidence of negligence on the owner if the owner was aware that the dog was an aggressive dog even if the dog had not bitten anyone before.
You may have heard the phrase “one bite rule” before. All this means is that if a dog has bit someone before, that is evidence that the dog could be violent towards humans or might have vicious propensities because of that prior bite. This prior bite could provide evidence of the owner’s negligence if the owner does not take precautions to prevent a subsequent bite. This rule applies in Pennsylvania but NOT in New Jersey.
If you or your family member was bitten by a dog, please do not hesitate to give us a call for a free consult to help you in your specific situation.
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