What Qualifies as a Dog With Dangerous Propensities?

December 7, 2018

Let an Allentown Dog Bite Attorney Help

If you’ve been injured by a dog in Pennsylvania, then you may be entitled to significant compensation under the law.  It’s important to understand, however, that your ability to recover may be affected by the qualification of the dog itself — if the animal qualifies as a “dangerous dog,” then the owner can be held absolutely liable (i.e., must pay full compensation) for the damages incurred by their dog during the attack.

Curious how it works?  Let’s explore the basics.

Defining a Dangerous Dog Under Pennsylvania Law

In Pennsylvania, dog owners are strictly liable for the medical expenses incurred by those who are injured by their dogs.  If the dog showcases “dangerous propensities” or is a “dangerous dog,” however, then the owner may be held fully liable for all the damages caused.

A dangerous dog is one who has:

  1. Inflicted severe injury on a human being or domestic animal without provocation;
  2. Attacked a human being without provocation;
  3. Been used in the commission of a crime;
  4. A history of attacking human beings and/or domestic animals without provocation; or
  5. A propensity to attack human beings and/or domestic animals without provocation.

Even a single attacking event may be sufficient to establish a propensity that qualifies the dog as “dangerous” under the law.

The bar is not particularly high to establish that the dog was “dangerous.”  In Pennsylvania, it is enough to show that the dog rushed at others in a vicious manner (requiring the owner to intervene), or that the dog consistently growls or barks at passersby.

Strict Obligations Imposed on Owners of Dangerous Dogs

Once a dog has been determined to be a “dangerous dog,” there are a number of ways in which to impose negligence-based liability on the owner, as they are subject to additional duties under the law (by virtue of owning a dangerous dog).

Pennsylvania law requires that the owners of dangerous dogs confine the dog in an enclosed space at home, and that warning signs be put up to give proper notice to children (and others) of the existence of a dangerous dog on the property.  The dog must be leashed and muzzled, and under the control of a reasonable person at all times that it is not confined.  Further, the dog is required to be microchipped and spayed/neutered, and liability insurance coverage must be purchased by the owner, too.

Failure to adhere to these duties — if such failure results in injury — could give rise to significant civil liability.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Seasoned Allentown Dog Bite Attorney

Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC is a personal injury litigation firm whose attorneys have spent decades advocating on behalf of those who have suffered harm in a variety of personal injury scenarios, including dog bite accidents.

We have a long track record of success in recovering compensation for plaintiffs.  It is our belief that our thorough approach to litigation — in which we work closely with clients to learn the contours of their injury claim and other particularities of the case — has given us a significant advantage in comparison to our competitors.

If you’ve suffered harm due to a dog bite, we encourage you to contact our firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an Allentown dog bite attorney today.  Call 610-433-3910 or send us an online message through our website.