Incidence of dog bite injuries treated in emergency departments

No one loves dogs more than the attorneys at Philadelphia Injury Lawyers. Unfortunately a dog bite or dog attack can lead to serious injury, and in rare instances, even death. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, the owner may be financially responsible for your injuries.

Are injuries from dog attacks common?

More common than you would think. In 2015, 35 Americans were killed by a dog, and over 850,000 people receive medical treatment as a result of a dog attack. Despite the high number of dog attacks, only 15,000-16,000 people receive compensation. The average compensation for a dog bite is approximately $29,000.00. The value of your dog attack claim is dependent on many factors.

Who pays for dog bite claims?

Most people do not realize that a homeowners or renter’s insurance policy will cover a dog bite claim. If you have been bitten, obtaining the dog owner’s insurance policy is an important first step in receiving compensation.

Under what circumstances can I receive compensation for a dog bite injury?

Simply being bitten may not be enough to receive financial compensation. To recover for a dog bite injury, the victim must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent. There are several ways to prove negligence, and each dog bite presents a unique set of circumstances. Some ways a dog owner may be negligent include:

  • The dog is in public without a leash.
  • The dog has a history of biting or aggression.
  • The owner fails to supervise their dog around a young child.
  • The owner fails to control their dog who is exhibiting aggressive behavior.
  • The landlord knew a dangerous dog was on their premises, but failed to evict or remove the owner.

Is it true that there is a “one bite” rule?

A common misconception of dog bite claims is that a dog owner gets “one free bite”. In other words, unless the dog has bitten before, you will not be able to recover for your injuries. This is not the case. Each state has separate and unique dog bite laws, and it is very important that you retain an attorney who understands the differences.


Victims of dogs that have never bitten before are divided by Pennsylvania law into categories based on how badly they were injured. A severe dog bite injury is defined as one that causes broken bones, fractures or disfigurement in the form of lacerations that require multiple stitches. A victim who has been severely injured by a dog will receive full recovery if he or she can prove that the dog was not provoked to attack.

A dog bite victim who was not severely injured is only entitled to compensation for medical expenses, to be paid fully by the pet owner. Any cost to the victim as a result of a dog bite is available, with the only proof required that the defendant owned the biting dog.

If the owner of a dog knows, or should know, that his dog might cause injury, he has a duty to use ordinary care to prevent injury to others. If an owner fails to perform this duty, then he is negligent.

Further, the owner of a dog must take notice of its general, natural inclinations or characteristics and of the inclinations or characteristics, if any, peculiar to the animal in this case that he knows about or should have known about. If any of those inclinations or characteristics are of a kind likely to cause injury, the owner has a duty to use ordinary care to prevent any reasonably foreseeable injury. If an owner fails to perform this duty, then he is negligent.

How do you prove a dog owner was negligent?

Hiring the right attorney to investigate and prove negligence is an important first step in recovering for a dog bite injury. There are several ways to prove that the dog owner was negligent, including, but not limited to:

  • Obtaining the “bite report” or incident report from the police department or local animal control agency.
  • Finding out the dog’s history from the dog’s owner.
  • Speaking to neighbors about their observations of the dog in the past.
  • Detailing and documenting the incident in writing.
  • Obtaining the medical history of the dog through its veterinarian.
  • Obtaining obedience/training school records if they exist.
  • Medical reports concerning treatment of the injuries.
  • Obtaining witness statements.

What injuries do people who are bitten by a dog typically suffer?

We have seen shockingly serious injuries caused by a dog bite or attack. These can include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Cuts and bruising
  • Loss of fingers
  • Scarring
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Infections

Victims of dog bite injuries may be entitled to receive compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement or scarring
  • Emotional distress

Future medical treatment for scar revisions

If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, please contact the attorneys at Philadelphia Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

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