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Do Pennsylvania Laws Protect Dog Owners from Dog Bite Liability?

Unless a dog owner or bite victim accepts responsibility for a dog bite, issues of liability can end up in the Pennsylvania courts. Determining whose negligence caused a bite begins with investigation on the part of the appropriate state or local authorities, but the final decision requires the judgment of a court magistrate.

The law typically holds owners responsible for the actions of their dogs, but a dog bite does not always represent liability on the part of the dog’s owner. In fact, Pennsylvania Code contains an exception for farm dogs that attack while on the premises, as long as dog warning signs are prominently displayed at all entrances and exits. While child victims usually receive greater consideration under the law, the courts may find in favor of dog owners in the following types of situations involving adult victims:

  • When trespassers are bitten, particularly if they break in to buildings with criminal intent
  • Individuals who go through gates when a dog warning is prominently displayed, even if no dog is visible on the other side, and are bitten
  • When an individual provokes the dog prior to a bite
  • When the bite victim has a known history of provoking the specific dog, even if no provocation occurred immediately prior to the bite

When a dog bite case goes to court in Lancaster County, injured people often must go against powerful insurance company lawyers or private attorneys who may use these or other defenses to shift the blame to the dog bite victim. Even when an investigation conducted by state or local officials appears to prove dog owner liability, it is important to enlist help from an injury attorney who has experience and resources for investigating dog attacks.

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