Pennsylvania Has Additional Requirements for Dangerous Dogs

July 31, 2018

The state of Pennsylvania implements a hybrid liability system for dog bite injuries — strict liability that covers medical expenses for most dog bites, and dangerous dog liability that covers a much broader range of damages for bites by dogs that are defined as “dangerous” or deemed to have “vicious propensities” pursuant to statutory law.

If you have been injured in a dog bite attack, then you may have the right to sue and recover substantial damages as compensation — particularly if the dog qualifies as “dangerous” under Pennsylvania law.  It’s important to note that the owners of dangerous dogs have additional duties so as to minimize the risk of injury posed by their dog.  Their failure to meet these duties will almost certainly improve your chance of success in litigation.

What is a Dangerous Dog?

Section 502-A of the Pennsylvania Statutes elaborates on those qualities that make for a dangerous dog.

A dog will be deemed “dangerous” if it has:

  1. Injured or attacked a human without provocation;
  2. Injured a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property;
  3. Been used in the commission of a crime;
  4. A history of attacking people or domestic animals without provocation; or
  5. A propensity to attack people or domestic animals without provocation.

For example, if the defendant’s dog has attacked people at a public park over the years, then a Pennsylvania court will almost certainly adjudge that dog as dangerous.

Once the dog qualifies as “dangerous,” owners are subject to several new requirements.

Additional Requirements for Owners of a Dangerous Dog

Pennsylvania dangerous dog regulations impose a number of additional requirements on the owners of dangerous dogs that are meant to protect the general public from the heightened risk of injury associated with such animals.  Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to criminal and civil penalties for the dog owner — and as the injured plaintiff, it will likely strengthen your overall claim for damages.

Consider the following.

Mandatory Reporting of Dog Attacks

Pennsylvania dangerous dog statutes require that owner report dog attacks to the relevant authorities, such as the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the local police, within just 24 hours of the attack in question.

Certification of Registration

All owners of dangerous dogs must obtain a certificate of registration, which ensures that the official record is consistent with the dog’s qualification — the certificate also requires that the owner comply with all applicable regulation.

Dog Must Be Leashed and Muzzled

Anytime a dangerous dog is brought outside of its defined enclosure on the owner’s property, the dog must be leashed, muzzled, and under the physical restraint of a person who is responsible and capable of controlling it.  This is an important duty, as it does the most to ensure that instances of dog bite attacks are minimized.  If an owner fails to restrain their dangerous dog in this manner, then you may have an additional claim of negligence against the owner.

Warning Sign on the Property

There must be visible warning signs that notify passerby and premises entrants of the presence of a dangerous dog.  Failure to do so could expose others to an unreasonable risk of injury, as they may not be prepared.

Liability Insurance Coverage

All owners of dangerous dogs are required by law to obtain liability insurance coverage for dog bites and attacks.  They cannot cancel this insurance coverage unless the dog is no longer alive or they transfer ownership to another person.  As the plaintiff, the existence of such coverage is an enormous advantage — you will likely have access to sufficient funds to cover your damages.

Speak to a Skilled Allentown Dog Bite Attorney for a Free Consultation Today

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have extensive experience handling a range of personal injury claims, including dog bite attacks.  Pennsylvania dog bite laws can be somewhat complex, and there are a number of ways in which defendants may attempt to circumvent liability or otherwise minimize their liability.  We understand the strategies typically employed by dog owners, and how to counter them.  Our results speak for themselves — we have successfully litigated numerous dog bite claims on behalf of injured clients.

Call (610) 433-3910 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Allentown dog bite attorney.