Federal dog laws are not applicable throughout the U.S. as dog discipline and behavior is governed by state laws.
In most states two important laws govern dog owners liability for any dog bites, and these are:
The PA One Bite Rule
Under this rule, any dog is permitted one free bite without the owner being held responsible. The owner is not held liable for this first bite or resultant injury but the dog owner must not have behaved negligently when handling the actions of his or her dog.
The one bite rule does not always protect the dog owner, especially when the owner has violated another separate dog law, which could include failing to keep his or her dog constrained on a leash so that the dog was loose in a public place.
If the owner did not act negligently, did not break any dog laws, and it was the offending dogs first bite, the owner is not responsible for any damages to a dog bite victim under the one bite rule.
Exception to the One Bite Rule
The one bite rule ensures that one free bite is only permissible if the dog has not already shown signs of dangerous behavior. This means that if a victim of a dog bite can find proof that the dog could behave dangerously and the owner should have been or was aware of the potential of the dog to attack and bite an unsuspecting victim, then the one bite rule cant be applied.
Labeling a dog as Dangerous can take place in the following situations:
- If snapping at people is part of the dogs usual behavior
- If the owner has warned people that his or her dog is an attack dog.
- If the owner of the dog has told others that its a possibility that his dog could bite.
- If the offending dog is seen wearing a muzzle
As there are so many situations when a dog attack and bite takes place many states now use a strict liability rule for ascertaining dog owners liability in a dog bite incident.
The Strict Liability Rule applicable in the State of Pennsylvania ensures that the dog owner is responsible for any injuries that take place as a result of a dog bite.
The strict liability rule also offers a little protection to dog owners. For example, a dog owner is not expected to take responsibility if his dog bites someone, if the dog bite victim was trespassing.
Also, If a dog bites somebody who teased it, the owner may not have to take responsibility for the dog bite. In cases when a dog owner has requested that people stay clear of his dog, but a person approaches the dog and was then bitten, the dog owner is not normally held responsible because the victim was warned of the dogs characteristics. When a dog bites a person who is assisting the police during any military operation, the owner is not responsible for his or heres dog actions.
If you or a loved one have been unexpectedly bitten in an unprovoked attack by a dog and has a dog bite, it is essential to contact the services of a PA dog bite lawyer to ensure that a careful assessment is made of the situation and a just compensation package is compiled and received.