Dog Bite FAQs
Learn about your legal rights after a dog attack.
Few incidents are as traumatic as a dog attack. In the wake of an attack on yourself or your child, you may not know what to do next. We’ve been handling dog bite claims in Philadelphia and elsewhere for decades, and we’re happy to share this information with you.
If you need to know more about your individual case, contact our law firm today. The experienced attorneys at Flager & Associates will listen to your story and review the facts of your case. There is no fee for your initial case evaluation.
What should I do after being attacked by a dog?
When you’re bitten by a dog, everything can seem chaotic. Try to remain calm. Here’s some suggested steps for dealing with a traumatic attack.
- Identify the animal that bit you. This step might seem obvious but can be easily overlooked amid all the chaos.
- Take pictures – but only if it is safe to do so. Photographs of the attacking dog and the accident location could be critical evidence for your future claim. However, don’t try to take pictures if doing so puts you in danger of being attacked again. At minimum, take pictures of any visible injuries.
- Get medical attention. Don’t put off seeing a doctor just because you initially feel alright. You might have an internal injury or other damage that takes time to become apparent, and seeing a doctor right away is the best option for your health. It will also make a future claim easier.
- Report the incident to your local animal control center and/or police department. Note the date you filed the report and record the names of the people with whom you spoke. You will need information for your insurance company, as well as to help support your personal injury claim.
- Contact a lawyer. If you or your child has sustained a personal injury due to a dog bite, you need to have a strong legal advocate on your side. Contact Flager & Associates, PC to begin the process of obtaining compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered.
How can I keep myself and my family safe from dog attacks?
Here’s some suggested safety tips to avoid dog attacks and reduce the risk of severe injuries.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not scream or run from a dog.
- Remain still if approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
- Do not let children play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Avoid looking directly at a dog’s eyes.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Never pet a dog without first allowing it to see and sniff you.
- Report a bite immediately.
If you have children, teach them these safety tips and review them regularly.
I keep hearing people talk about the “one free bite” rule. What is that?
In some states, it’s necessary to prove a prior history of aggressive behavior on the part of a dog in order to collect compensation. Essentially, that means the owner can’t be held liable for the dog’s first bite – making it effectively “free” – as that bite is needed to prove an aggressive history for future bites. However, neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey uses this rule.
Pennsylvania law allows a dog’s propensity to attack to be established by a single incident, which can be the dog’s attack on you or your child. As long as the dog owner failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the attack, he or she can be held liable.
New Jersey’s laws are even tougher on dog owners, as they impose strict liability, regardless of the dog’s history of viciousness, when a dog bites a person in a public place or while the person is legally on private property. In other words, the owner can be held liable even if the owner was not negligent. As in Pennsylvania, New Jersey dog owners can also be held liable for dog bites in other situations if it can be shown that the owner was negligent in not taking steps to prevent the bite.
Will an insurance company compensate me after a dog bite?
Insurance coverage for dog bites is typically part of homeowner insurance policies, especially if the dog is considered to be part of a potentially vicious breed. Here is a partial list of potentially aggressive breeds that may cause injury during an attack:
- Miniature Pinschers
- Toy Poodles
- Llasa Apso
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Chow Chow
- Old English Sheep Dog
- Giant Schnauzers
- Cocker Spaniel
- Pit Bull
While you may be able to collect from the dog owner’s insurance company, don’t sign anything until you speak with one of the experienced attorneys at Flager & Associates, PC. You could be eligible for more compensation than what the insurance company has to offer.
How much is my dog bite-related claim worth?
Dog bites, especially from large dogs, can cause serious damage. The risk of infection is high, and the ragged edges of the bite can lead to scarring and disfigurement. Surgery may be required to treat the injury, and additional surgeries may be needed in the future to reduce scarring or correct improper healing. All of this means medical bills can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In addition to those physical injuries, being attacked by a dog is an intensely traumatic experience. Counseling may be required to treat those psychological wounds. In some cases, a dog attack might even lead to chronic pain, permanent disfigurement or another long-term medical condition.
Your claim after a dog bite may include medical bills, lost wages while recovering from the injury, lost future earning potential and pain and suffering, among other sources of compensation. Unfortunately, many victims settle for less money than they’re owed. That’s why you need a veteran attorney from Flager & Associates, PC on your side. We’ll carefully review all of the facts of your case and fight for all the compensation you need – in many cases, significantly improving your quality of life after the attack.
Contact Flager & Associates, PC
Located in Bensalem (across from the Neshaminy Mall), with offices in Philadelphia and New Hope, our law firm proudly serves injury victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
One Northbrook Corporate Center
1210 Northbrook Drive
Feasterville-Trevose, PA 19053
Phone: (215) 953-5200
Fax: (215) 953-5214
1500 JFK Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102