Pennsylvania Dog Bite Claim FAQ: Everything You Need to Know [Updated 2020]


Man’s best friend can sometimes become unexpectedly aggressive. A tame, loving dog that has shown no prior aggressive or threatening behavior could turn violent for no reason. Unfortunately, when you or a loved one is attacked by a dog, the physical, emotional, and financial damages can be devastating. Pennsylvania protects dog bite victims by holding the dog owner responsible for damages in a dog attack.

Below are answers to common questions about Pennsylvania dog bite claims. If you have additional questions, we encourage you to contact our office to meet with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys. It is vital that you act quickly to protect your right to receive compensation under Pennsylvania dog bite laws.

Dog Bite FAQ

What Types of Compensation Can I Receive in a Dog Bite Claim?

Most dog bite claims in Pennsylvania involve two types of damages, economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your claim, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damages including but not limited to:

Economic for dog bite claims might include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Future lost wages and medical expense
  • Travel expenses
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. over-the-counter medications, medical supplies, personal care, etc.)

Dog bites, especially severe ones, can result in damages that are considered non-economic. These damages often result from severe injuries and can last for years to come. Victims of dog bites should be reimbursed for these less-tangible losses.

Non-economic losses for dog bites include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disability
  • Psychological trauma

What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?

It is important to know what steps to take after being bitten or attacked by a dog. Below are important steps to take to ensure you receive the proper compensation for the damages caused.

1. Identify the Dog & Its Owner

It is vital to immediately identify the dog and its owner after a dog has attacked you. Knowing who they are will help you obtain their personal information later. The information you'll need includes their name, address, and witnesses’ information. It is also helpful to obtain the dog license information and any records involving previous attacks. This step will help you ensure that the dog has received its rabies shots and other required vaccinations.

2. Seek Medical Attention

If your injuries are severe, call 911. If your injuries are not severe, seek medical attention anyway. There is a high risk of infection after being bitten or attacked by a dog. Additionally, some dog bites can cause nerve damage that requires the care of a medical professional.

3. File a Dog Bite Report

If you have been medically treated for even a minor injury, you must file a dog bite report to Animal Control. This legal document will help keep your neighborhood safe while strengthening your case against the dog owner. It is more difficult for authorities to enforce the law without a paper trail.

4. Photograph Your Dog Bite Injuries

It is vital to take pictures of all wounds caused by the attack, including bruises and any bloody or torn clothing. This will be useful evidence for your case.

5. Contact an Attorney

Speak with an attorney as quickly as possible. Dog bite lawsuits can be complex and difficult to navigate after a long period has passed. Handler Henning & Rosenberg's experienced animal attack attorneys that can assist you with your investigation and can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your pain and trauma. Being attacked by a dog is a harrowing experience, but we are here to help you move forward without fear or uncertainty.

What happens to the dog after I report a bite?

If a dog is determined to have a violent history, its owners might be required to register it with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. This means that they’ll have to pay a $500 registration fee each year of the dog’s life and follow strict guidelines. Registered dogs must be properly enclosed and wear a muzzle if they’re outside. They also must be spayed or neutered as well as microchipped.

Additionally, owners of violent dogs might be required to obtain a surety bond of $50,000 that would pay for injuries their dog might inflict on someone else. They also must have liability insurance of at least $50,000 to cover injuries and damages the dog might inflict on other people.

What is the "one bite" rule?

Before amendments to Pennsylvania dog bite laws and recent court rulings, a dog owner was given a "pass" for the first dog bite if the dog owner could prove the dog did not have a history of aggression. This is not the case today. A dog owner can be held liable for your damages from a dog bite regardless of whether this is the first time the dog has bitten a person. The dog does not need to have a dangerous or aggressive history for the dog owner to be found liable for your damages.

Is There a Time Limit to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you must file a dog bite lawsuit within two years from the date of the dog attack if you are 18 years of age or older. Minors have until their 20th birthday to file a dog bite lawsuit. However, you should not wait until the second year to contact our office. Our dog bite attorneys need to begin working on your case immediately to identify and preserve key evidence now rather than later.

Who is Responsible in a Dog Bite Case?

The person responsible for your injuries is typically the dog owner; however, you may also be responsible for your injuries if you intentionally provoked the dog. A landlord, property owner, or keeper may also be responsible in a dog bite claim. It is important to identify all parties responsible for your injuries to maximize your recovery in a Pennsylvania dog bite lawsuit.

Do I Have a Valid Dog Bite Claim?

In order to answer this question, our attorney needs to discuss the facts and circumstances of the incident with you. We offer a free consultation so that you can receive answers to your questions and you can get the facts about Pennsylvania dog bite claims before making any decisions.

Should I Settle with the Insurance Company Now?

No, you should not settle with an insurance company before seeking legal advice. Do not sign any releases or provide statements until you have spoken with an attorney. The insurance company does not have your best interest as its top priority - our personal injury attorneys will protect your rights.

What Is My Dog Bite Claim Worth?

Valuing a dog bite claim involves several factors. We do not want to settle your claim until we have all the facts and the extent of your damages are known. In some instances, the severity of physical injuries is not always obvious. Additionally, some people might require mental health evaluations to understand the less obvious injuries they’ve sustained.

Our attorneys have extensive experience valuing dog bite claims. We use every resource available to ensure you receive the maximum compensation allowable by law for your damages, losses, and injuries.

Call our Harrisburg Dog Bite Attorneys at (888) 498-3023

Contact the experienced Harrisburg dog bite lawyers of Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC for a free consultation by calling (888) 498-3023 or using our online contact form if you have been injured in a dog attack in Harrisburg or the surrounding areas. We want to help you recover compensation for your dog bite claim by providing legal counsel and support as you recover from a Pennsylvania dog attack. Do not delay—you have a limited time to file a dog bite claim in Pennsylvania. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.

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