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Dog Bite Injuries: Is Just the Owner to Blame?

According to 2017 statistics, over 89.7 million dogs enjoyed pet status in American households. Unfortunately, “man’s best friend” often suggests the risk of harm. Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides suggestions to prevent dog bites, they do occur. In fact, nearly at least twenty percent of dog bite victims require medical attention.

All things considered, it seems logical to hold owners responsible for their animals. However, you should know that Pennsylvania law specifically addresses the subject. In fact, an entire chapter of the PA Code focuses on dangerous dogs.

A little nip may not leave long-lasting effects as far as physical injuries. Meanwhile, it’s not inconceivable for a dog to maul someone and cause fatal injuries. At the very least, a dog bite may leave substantial scarring and the need for skin grafting.

When someone else’s pet hurts you or a loved one, you should meet with an attorney who has experience with dog bite claims.  While you might think of a particular breed as a pit bull or Doberman as a dangerous dog, the law doesn’t necessarily agree.

Truth be told, it could be a neighbor’s tiny poodle who continually attacks visitors. That said, the owner may claim that you provoked his or her animal. Evidence of provocation negates claims, as well as proof that you were trespassing.

Without question, you’ll want to seek damages if you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury. Of course, your first inclination will be to pursue a claim against the pet owner. In the meantime, someone else may also be responsible.

Pet Sitting and Dog Bite Injuries

Consider the circumstances of the situation documented in Franciscus v. Sevdik, a case decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in 2016. The plaintiffs appealed the matter when the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants in the case named Pet Care.

According to the facts presented in the case, Femina Franciscus was five years old when Tolga Sevdik’s dog bit her. While she was playing out, the youngster spotted a dog walker with the pit bull. Femina asked permission to pet the animal.

When the child bent down, the dog jumped up on her and bit her on the chin. Nothing in the record suggested that Femina provoked the animal.

Femina’s parents brought a lawsuit against the dog owner, the dog walker and the company who provided pet services. They alleged that the defendants knew or should have known that sixty to seventy-pound dog represented a potential issue.

The parents contended that the dog’s owner knew of his animal’s dangerous propensities. In fact, during deposition testimony, Mr. Sevdik offered the instructions he provided to the pet sitting service. He specifically asked that they muzzle the animal during walks.

The dog owner also advised the pet care company that the dog walker should avoid bringing the pit bull around other dogs and children. Unfortunately, the dog walker did not abide by the requirements imposed by the owner.

The pit bull was unmuzzled when he bit young Femina. The pet sitting company described the animal as “loving and affectionate.” They also claimed that the dog “never exhibited any type of vicious or violent behavior.”

Although the trial court essentially excused the pet care company from the lawsuit, the Superior Court disagreed. They remanded the case back due to the evidence presented. It appeared the pet sitting company failed to “use reasonable care to prevent the dog from harming others while in their custody and control.”

Contact Us

If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of a dog bite, Fellerman & Ciarimboli would like to assist you. Let us evaluate your claim to determine whether you have a cause of action. There is no fee unless we successfully recover damages. Contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your particular circumstances.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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