As mentioned, an individual may be entitled to full compensation for dog related injury cases if that individual can prove the dog’s owner had knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities or that an owner was negligent in his or her handling of their dog, increasing the risk of an attack.
In regard to knowledge of a dangerous propensity, establishing that the owner had such knowledge – or scienter – is not an overly burdensome threshold to meet. A dog who has bitten a person in the past is an easy case. But in fact, Pennsylvania case law provides wide coverage for many dog-related injuries that one may not traditionally considered dangerous. For instance, in Groner v. Hendrick, 403 Pa. 148 (1961), a case wherein a Great Dane injured a woman and caused injuries by simply jumping up on her, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that “a large, strong, and over-friendly dog may be as dangerous as a vicious one, and . . . [that] the dog’s behavior at home is enough to bring knowledge to his owners, when considered together with its size and their apparent knowledge that it might jump on people.”
In regard to negligence, the common elements of (1) a duty by the dog owner which requires the owner to conform to an acceptable standard of conduct, (2) a failure of the owner to conform to that standard, (3) a cause and effect relationship between the failure and the injury, and (4) damages. For instance, it is presumed that a dog owner has a duty to keep their dog controlled, whether such control is established by a leash, fence, dog run or otherwise. If a dog is not controlled and it escapes, any injuries associated from that escape may be able to be recovered in a negligence action.
As alluded to above, Dog Bite law is a misnomer. Pennsylvania law has established that all injuries associated with a dog may be actionable. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog – or if you are a dog owner who may be subject to liability – please call Roland Stock LLC for a free consultation today.