Residents of rural areas in the Poconos will be interested to know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has provided the results of an important study. Specifically, this new study shows that there were four times as many dog bite-related visits to the emergency room and three times as many hospitals stay in rural areas than in urban areas. The government also noted that adults who have two or more dogs in the home are five times more likely to be bitten than those living in homes without dogs.
It may come as no surprise that dog bite victims are often bitten by dogs owned by their next-door neighbors, friends, and even their own family, which has led to hesitancy when it comes to potentially suing, or making a claim against, people with whom they have a relationship. However, it is important to realize that most dog owners carry insurance covering the losses incurred by victims of their animals, so the dog owners rarely pay for claims from their own personal funds.
Victims of dog bites typically experience serious damages and losses, ranging from expensive medical care-related costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings and even missed time from work or school. Some dogs even cause fatalities. Over the past decade, more than 360 Americans have lost their lives from dog attacks.
The Stroudsburg personal injury law firm of Drake Hileman & Davis will make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your losses. We’ll fight for you if you have been injured by a dog or any other domestic animal. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please call our Stroudsburg office at (570) 421-8119 and ask to speak with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys.
Pennsylvania Imposes “Strict Liability” for Dog Owners
Some states have a “one free bite” rule for dog bite cases. Under this rule, dog owners cannot be held liable for attacks unless their dogs have bitten (or shown a “vicious propensity”) previously.
Pennsylvania is not one of these states. Instead, Pennsylvania imposes “strict liability” for dog owners. This means that dog owners can be held the first time their dog attacks. It also means that:
- Recovering compensation does not require proof that the dog had a “vicious propensity.”
- Recovering compensation does not require evidence that the dog’s owner was negligent in allowing the attack to occur.
As a result, dog bite victims can file claims for just compensation in most cases. If you or your child has been bitten, a Stroudsburg dog bite attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis can explain how Pennsylvania’s strict liability law applies in your situation. We handle dog bite cases involving all types of scenarios, including:
- Dog attacks in neighborhoods
- Dog attacks in driveways and yards
- Dog attacks on city streets
- Dog attacks in public parks and other community spaces
- Dog attacks at veterinary offices
Under Pennsylvania’s strict liability law, whether the dog was leashed or unleashed is not important for assessing your legal rights. Likewise, whether the dog escaped its enclosure or you or your child were in a confined area with the dog is also immaterial. While there are some exceptions to dog owners’ strict liability, these exceptions are limited, and we encourage you to speak with a Stroudsburg dog bite attorney regardless of the circumstances under which you or your child was bitten.
Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites in Stroudsburg
Some people have concerns about filing a dog bite claim, particularly when the dog’s owner is a friend, neighbor, or family member. They worry that filing a claim will lead to animosity and cause financial strain for the dog’s owner.
But, in the vast majority of cases, seeking financial compensation only involves filing an insurance claim. When dog owners have adequate insurance coverage, they do not have to pay out of pocket. In fact, if you know the dog’s owner, they will almost certainly want you to take advantage of the insurance coverage they have available.
In most cases, when you hire a Stroudsburg dog bite attorney to represent you, your attorney will file one of the following types of claims:
- Homeowner’s Insurance – Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog attacks. This includes attacks occurring both on and off the dog owner’s premises.
- Renter’s Insurance – Renter’s insurance policies can provide coverage for dog attacks as well. These policies also provide coverage for attacks occurring both in and away from the renter’s dwelling.
- Commercial Liability Insurance – If you or your child was bitten at a veterinary office, kennel, or other business, the business’s commercial liability insurance policy might apply.
- Umbrella Insurance – Individuals and businesses also frequently have umbrella insurance that provides access to additional financial compensation in the event of a serious dog bite or other accident.
Limited Time to Bring Your Case
Generally speaking, dog bite cases must be brought within two years of the date of the attack. If a child under age 18 is bitten, however, that minor victim can still bring a claim until he or she turns 20. This is because the statute of limitations is suspended, or “tolled,” for minors until they turn 18.
We Know How to Win Your Stroudsburg Dog Bite Case
Victims should not try to represent themselves in a dog bite case. Also, not all lawyers are equipped to handle animal attack cases. It takes a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to prove and win a dog or animal bite case because insurance companies are reluctant to pay damages to dog bite victims, and there are major hurdles to winning these kinds of cases.
That is why you need to call the caring and capable lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis to handle your case. We know how to navigate the legal minefield that stymies most claims. For example, we know how to prove a dog’s “dangerous propensity” by producing evidence that the dog had prior attacks, is known for his bad disposition, or is classified as an “attack breed.” Even if there is no evidence of “dangerous propensity,” we can establish your right to recover by demonstrating that local “leash laws” were violated by the dog’s owner.
Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Huskies are all considered to be “attack breeds” and thus may be deemed to be dangerous or vicious by nature. Owners of such dogs must exercise greater control over their dog and may be liable even if the dog has not bitten anyone in the past.
Winning Dog Bite Cases in the Poconos Since 1985.
Our attorneys have been handling dog attack cases for your neighbors for more than 35 years. Pennsylvania law is clear about the duties of dog owners. If the owner violates the law, he is responsible if someone gets bit by his dog. For instance, at all times, a dog should be either in the owner’s home, or firmly secured by a collar and leash, or, at the least, under the owner’s control.
We have all seen dogs running loose. It may have escaped from a house when the owner opens the front door, or it will pull itself off its leash, or it could just be playing in a public park without a leash. If that happens, and if that dog attacks and bites a person unprovoked, then the dog owner is responsible for the dog’s actions.
Many dog bite victims don’t know that, and the dog owner and his insurance company usually refuse to take responsibility. This leaves you, the innocent victim, with medical bills to pay and permanent scarring on your body. That’s just not right.
The law used to allow every dog “one free bite”. Essentially, dog owners would be ‘off the hook’ the first time their dogs bit someone. That is not the case today.
Now, even a first bite, even from a friendly dog, can lead to a recovery. But you need an attorney who knows how to handle the challenges associated with these types of cases. We will investigate, find witnesses, get statements, take photographs, and get the dog’s history.
If you, or someone you know, has been injured by a dog, give us a call. Speak to one of our litigators who will be glad to help you understand how the process works.
As a result of our many victories in dog bite and other animal attack cases in Eastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, Drake Hileman & Davis attorneys have the background and knowledge to successfully settle or try your injury claim and recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today to discuss your claim with a Stroudsburg personal injury lawyer. We offer a free, in home consultation.
Negotiating Settlements with Insurance Companies
We have found that most dog owners have homeowners insurance policies that cover claims for victims of attacks by their dogs or other animals. We will negotiate a fair settlement with the homeowner’s insurance company to compensate you for your losses. This is particularly true of “economic losses” such as your medical bills and lost wages. However, even if the insurance company says that they don’t cover “non-economic” claims, such as trauma and emotional distress related to an attack by an animal, we’ll fight to get you a recovery for those claims as well. Dog bites cause all sorts of intangible losses, including PTSD, nightmares, panic and anxiety attacks, severe emotional distress, and generalized anxiety. The emotional consequences of a dog bite can be just as, or even more devastating than the physical harm, such as scarring and disfigurement.
Damages in Animal and Dog Bite Claims
We have handled all sorts of animal attack and bite cases, including those caused by domesticated animals (dogs, cats and rabbits) and wild animals (including bats) allowed to live on a homeowner’s property.
The Stroudsburg attorneys of Drake, Hileman & Davis will aggressively pursue ALL of the compensation you deserve for your animal bite case. We will go after not only economic damages measured in money (such as medical bills and lost wages), but also non-economic damages (including scarring, pain and suffering, mental anguish, trauma, and other major life changes).
Your Stroudsburg Dog Bite Attorneys
Don’t delay if you have been injured by a dog or other animal attack and you live in the Stroudsburg or Pocono area. You have limited time to file a claim. Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis in Stroudsburg today by calling (570) 421-8119, or contact us online to get a Stroudsburg personal injury lawyer working hard to win a cash award for YOU. We are ready to help.