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What are the legal implications of a dog bite?

If you are bit by a dog in Philadelphia, what happens? Can you sue the owner for premises liability if you are on their property? If you are the owner, what rights do you have? Many people in Pennsylvania are unaware of the laws surrounding dog bites. This may be detrimental to those that have been bit or to owners who are unaware of how they can defend themselves and their pets.

According to an expert, there is a one dog bite rule in Pennsylvania. This means the first time a dog bites, the owner cannot be held liable for general damages-unless the bite is serious. The owner can be held responsible for medical expenses, though.

The topic of dog bites often brings up the subject of socialization. If you know your dog well, you may not be worried about your dog biting a stranger. Some believe the likelihood of your pet biting someone has to do with how your pet is socialized. Of course, this hinges on the social situation being a normal and expected one for the animal. Not every situation is the same, though. If the animal was abused by a previous owner, it is possible the pet will bite and after that first bite, the owner may be looking at some serious responsibilities. Pet owners need to be aware that a bite may happen at any time.

Everyone should be aware of the rules regarding dog bites because it is spring and the weather is getting nicer. Many pet owners are taking their dogs for walks and interactions with passersby are frequent. If you or a loved one has been bitten and you are uncertain about how to further pursue the situation, an attorney may provide insight and advice on the matter.

Source: philadelphia.cbslocal.com, "Know Your Rights If You Get Bit Or Your Dog Bites," Michelle Durham, April 7, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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