Does Pennsylvania Have a One-Bite Rule?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
July 3, 2024
Small dog aggression

Dog bites can be traumatic, leaving victims with physical injuries and emotional scars. When such incidents occur, victims often seek clarity on the legal repercussions for the dog’s owner. One of the common questions asked is whether Pennsylvania follows the “one-bite rule.” The one-bite rule essentially implies that a dog owner is only liable for injuries caused by their dog if they have prior knowledge of the dog’s tendency to bite. In short, Pennsylvania does not adhere strictly to the one-bite rule. Instead, the state uses a combination of statutes and case law to determine liability in dog bite cases.

At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. (RGSG), we understand the complexities surrounding dog bite laws in Pennsylvania. Our personal injury attorneys are here to help you navigate these legal challenges. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, we can provide the guidance and support needed to pursue compensation. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you in securing the justice and compensation you deserve.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Dog Bite Laws

In Pennsylvania, dog bite laws are governed by a mixture of statutory provisions and common law principles. The state does not follow the one-bite rule, which means a dog owner can be held liable for a dog bite regardless of whether the dog has previously bitten someone or displayed aggressive behavior. Pennsylvania’s approach to dog bite liability is primarily defined under the state’s Dog Law and specific statutes that outline owner responsibilities and victim rights.

According to the Pennsylvania Dog Law, a dog owner is strictly liable for medical expenses resulting from a dog bite, irrespective of the dog’s history. This means if a dog bites someone, the owner is responsible for covering the victim’s medical costs, even if it is the dog’s first bite. However, for victims to recover additional damages such as pain and suffering or lost wages, they must prove the dog had a history of viciousness or the owner was negligent in controlling the dog.

Additionally, Pennsylvania courts have held that dog owners can be liable under common law negligence. This occurs when the owner’s failure to exercise reasonable care results in a dog bite injury. For instance, if a dog owner fails to keep a dog on a leash in a public area where leash laws are enforced, and the dog bites someone, the owner may be deemed negligent and liable for the resulting injuries.

Legal Responsibilities of Dog Owners in Pennsylvania

Dog owners in Pennsylvania are required to adhere to several legal responsibilities to prevent dog bites and attacks. These responsibilities include properly confining their dogs, ensuring their dogs do not roam freely, and adhering to local leash laws. Failure to meet these responsibilities can result in legal consequences if the dog bites someone. 

Pennsylvania law also mandates dog owners must obtain a license for their dogs and keep their rabies vaccinations up to date. This is important because the state requires proof of vaccination in the event of a dog bite incident. If a dog owner fails to vaccinate their dog and the dog bites someone, the owner could face additional penalties beyond those related to the bite itself.

Furthermore, owners must control their dogs in public spaces to prevent attacks. This includes using a leash or other restraint methods when walking their dogs in public. If a dog is found running at large and bites someone, the owner may be held responsible for any injuries caused due to their failure to control the dog.

Pursuing a Dog Bite Claim in Pennsylvania

If you have been bitten by a dog in Pennsylvania, there are several steps you should take to protect your rights and pursue a claim for compensation. First, seek medical attention immediately to address your injuries and document the extent of the damage. Medical records will be crucial in establishing the severity of your injuries and the associated medical expenses.

Next, report the incident to your local animal control or law enforcement agency. An official report will create a record of the incident and can be used as evidence in your claim. Be sure to gather as much information as possible about the dog and its owner, including names, contact information, and any witnesses to the attack.

Finally, consult with a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience handling dog bite cases in Pennsylvania. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and build a strong case to pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other related damages.

How Can Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. Help?

At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., we have a deep understanding of Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws and the legal complexities involved in these cases. Our talented team of attorneys is dedicated to providing personalized and effective legal representation for dog bite victims. We will work tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation of your case, gather necessary evidence, and advocate on your behalf. Contact Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. today at (215) 822-7575 or visit our contact form to schedule your free consultation. We are here to help you through this challenging time and ensure you receive the justice and compensation you need.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
July 3, 2024
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.