Jack Russell Terrier biting man’s pant leg

Staying Safe: Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites in PA

Imagine you’re taking a peaceful stroll in a neighborhood park, soaking in the beauty of nature. Suddenly, a dog breaks free from its owner and comes charging at you out of the blue. You try to stay calm and not escalate things, but it ends up biting your leg, causing pain and a bit of panic. This unexpected situation leaves you with physical injuries and many questions on how to proceed.

How do you proceed? Are you or the owner liable for the attack? Who will pay for your medical costs? These are all reasonable questions to have after being bitten by a dog. However, to make sure you are physically and legally safe after a dog bite, it is important to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to understand what you should do after a severe injury from a dog bite.

In this blog post, we will discuss the most frequently asked questions about dog bites in PA, dog bite liability laws, and other questions you may have about being a dog bite victim. In addition to questions about Pennsylvania dog bite laws, we’ll also discuss liability, if you need to call your insurance company, and how to document medical treatment after being bitten by a dangerous dog.


  • In Pennsylvania, dog bite incidents are governed by a mix of state laws and local regulations
  • The Commonwealth’s law holds dog owners accountable for damages if their dog injures someone, regardless of the animal’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge
  • The “one-bite” rule is not applicable in Pennsylvania
  • In cases where a dog has shown previous aggression or the dog’s dangerous propensities have been officially labeled dangerous, owners may face stricter penalties
  • If bitten, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention and report the incident to the appropriate authorities

What Happens in Pennsylvania if a Dog Bites Me?

In Pennsylvania, dog bite cases are regulated by state statutes and local ordinances. The Pennsylvania Dog Law outlines that if a dog bite results in severe injury or fatality on public or private property, the dog owner is held responsible for compensating the victim for any damages.

This law aims to ensure accountability and protection for individuals affected by an attacking or biting dog. Additionally, local municipalities may have their own ordinances and regulations regarding dog bites that can differ from the state law.

What Is the “One-Bite Rule” as It Relates to a Dog Bite Case in PA?

The “one-bite” rule is a legal concept that some states follow. In this rule, the dog owner is only considered liable for damages caused by their dog if they are aware of their dog’s dangerous propensities or the injured party is able to prove the owner’s negligence. In Pennsylvania, however, these one-dog-bite liability laws do not apply.

How Dog Bite Law And Liability Intertwine?

Under Pennsylvania Law, a dog’s owner can be held responsible for any medical costs associated with injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether or not the dog had a previous history of aggression or was deemed a “dangerous dog.”

When Are Owners Responsible in Relation to PA’s Dog Bite Law?

Pennsylvania imposes responsibility for the victim’s medical bills on dog owners for any harm inflicted by their dog. This legal principle applies to physical wounds and emotional injuries arising from a dog bite. As long as the victim can show that they were bitten by a dog and suffered injuries, the owner will be held liable for the cost of medical care associated with the dog bite.

Other damages caused by a dog require proof of negligence for the victim to be compensated. Here are some instances where this might be the scenario for a victim:

  • A dog jumps over a fence and bites a child. The fencing was inadequate for the dog’s size, so the owner was deemed negligent because the wall was not high enough to contain the animal. This victim may be awarded damages due to the dog owner’s negligence.
  • An owner is unable to control a large breed reasonably. The dog walker may be a 110-pound elderly man walking a 140-pound animal. In this case, the owner cannot reasonably control the animal, even on a leash. If the dog escaped and bit a person, this case would be one of negligence that may award the victim damages.
  • A neighbor’s child was invited over and was playing in a fenced-in yard with kids. The dog owner lets the animal out within the fenced area to go to the bathroom. The neighbor’s child gets bit. The dog owner could be held accountable because they didn’t control the animal—even though it was within a fenced area and the neighbor was invited.
  • A dog being walked on a leash spots a child and struggles with their owner. While the owner is physically capable of handling large dogs, the dog leash breaks because it wasn’t maintained, and the owner is not able to hold back that size animal any longer. This case is also one of negligence by the owner of the animal.

Can a Dog Owner Be Held Liable if the Dog Has No Prior History of Aggression?

Yes, in Pennsylvania, dog owners can be held responsible for any injuries or damage caused by their pets, even if the pet has never shown signs of aggression before. Pennsylvania’s laws impose liability on dog owners for their pets’ actions, disregarding the animal’s previous behavior.

Elevated Consequences for Repeat Dog Attacks

However, if the dog has previously shown that it has vicious or dangerous propensities, the dog previously bit a human being, or was considered to be a “dangerous animal” by the Commonwealth, the consequences for the owner can be more severe. These penalties can include additional fines, stricter dog ownership regulations, and even a criminal offense.

What Should I Do if I Am Bitten by a Dog in Pennsylvania?

small dog showing teeth being passed between two faceless people

If you are bitten by a dog in Pennsylvania, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Though the physical injury seems minor, dog bites can lead to infections and other complications that may require treatment. After receiving medical care, reporting the incident quickly to the proper authorities is also essential.

Who Do I Call When I Am Bitten by a Dog in PA?

If you are bitten by a dog in PA, you should call your local animal control or police department to report the incident. They will assist in locating the dog’s owner and ensure the proper steps are taken to prevent future attacks. You should also seek legal advice from an experienced dog bite lawyer in these types of cases. It is important to take these steps to make sure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries and to prevent future incidents involving the same dog.

Reporting To An Insurance Company About A Dog Attack

In some cases, it may be necessary to report the dog bite incident to your insurance company. This step can help cover any medical expenses or damages incurred as a result of the attack for the time being. It is important to note that if you have homeowner’s insurance, it may provide coverage for dog bites. However, always consult with a legal professional before speaking with the company to confirm you are adequately compensated.

How Can I Document My Medical Care After a Dog Bite?

After being bitten by a dangerous dog, it is crucial to document all medical treatment received. This includes keeping track of doctor’s appointments, medication prescribed, and any follow-up care needed. It is also essential to take photos of the injury before and after receiving medical care.

You should also notify your local animal control agency and the police department and seek legal advice from a dog bite attorney experienced in these types of cases. It is important to take these steps to ensure you receive proper compensation for your injuries and prevent future incidents involving the same dog.

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

Yes, there’s a time limit, often called a “statute of limitations,” for taking legal action after a dog bite in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania Dog Law, you have two years from the date the bite occurs to file a claim against the owner. Remember, missing this deadline could mean losing your right to seek compensation for the injuries from the dog bite. Act promptly within the timeframe to protect your rights and get the help you deserve.

When You Need Legal Help for Dog Bites in PA, Call Westmoreland Injury Lawyers

When you’re looking for help navigating dog bite liability laws in Greensburg, PA, and are looking for strong, dedicated legal representation, our team at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers is here to help. With years of experience fighting personal injury cases, we’re up to the task of finding you the compensation you deserve after a dog-related injury occurs. Schedule your legal consultation with us today, and let us help you start the journey towards healing today.


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