Jeffrey Harlan Penneys, Esq.
A dog attack can be a traumatizing event, especially when the victim is a child. In fact, children are disproportionately represented among dog bite victims, and they sometimes develop a lifelong fear of dogs as a result of the attack. No matter who you are, it is only fair that you receive compensation for a dog attack against yourself, your child, or even your dog.
Your dog bite claim may be worth more than you think – in fact, the average dog bite claim amounts to over $30,000, and some claims are worth much more than this. After more than two decades of handling these types of claims, I know how to negotiate a generous settlement that fully reflects every dimension of the harm done to you – physical, psychological, and economic.
Many of my dog bite clients express reluctance to pursue legal action, for understandable reasons. The dog in question might belong to a trusted friend and neighbor, and you might wince at the thought of forcing him or her into bankruptcy over a dog bite claim. Fortunately, such drastic action does not happen. Ever.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bite claims, as do many renter’s insurance policies, in amounts that typically range from $100,000 to $300,00. In fact, more than one-third of all claims paid out by homeowner’s insurance policies involve dog bites. For this reason, there is a good chance that you won’t have to choose between your own financial well-being and your neighbor’s.
The Personal Touch
I am a one-lawyer firm, not a giant mega-firm. That doesn’t mean I work alone, since I receive expert assistance from my superb legal staff. It does, however, mean that I handle all legal work on my own. You are not a case number to me, as you might be at a larger firm. You are an injured person in need of justice, and it is my mission to see to it that you get it.
Mr. Penneys is the best ever!!! Our puppy, Tuna, was brutally attacked by a boxer at a dog day care we used to put her in and almost died from it. The dog day care, as well as the owners of the vicious canine refused to pay for the veterinary expenses, however the DEVOTED Mr. Penneys relentlessly engaged in our cause and successfully helped us obtain our money loss back. Thanks Mr. Penneys for all your effort!!! – Ava/Ron
My Other Areas of Practice
I also handle the following types of personal injury cases:
Bus Accidents: I handle all types of bus accident claims, including SEPTA bus accidents, school bus accidents, and other types of bus accidents. A bus accident claim doesn’t even have to involve a collision – you can claim damages based on a slip and fall accident, for example. Bus accident claims against a government entity applies different rules than ordinary personal injury claims.
Car Accidents: A serious car accident occurs somewhere in the United States every few seconds, and Pennsylvania sees more than its share. Many if not most of these accidents were the fault of a careless or intoxicated driver or the manufacturer of a defective auto part. If you were injured but you weren’t mostly at fault, you could be entitled to compensation.
Bicycle Accidents: Bicycling is deceptively dangerous, especially without a helmet. The main cause of bicycle accidents is low visibility to motorists, and the main cause of injury is a bicycle’s lack of frame protection. Most accidents between a bicycle and a motorist are the fault of the motorist, not the bicyclist.
Truck Accidents: A truck accident is a terrifying event that can result in lifelong disability. Although truck accidents are not significantly more common than automobile accidents, the consequences tend to be far more serious because of a truck’s sheer size. Commercial truckers are heavily regulated, and the violation of a regulation can sometimes form the basis for personal injury liability.
Medical Malpractice: Although doctors and other health care professionals commit errors just like the rest of us do, not every medical error can support a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some errors, however, rise to the level of professional misconduct and justify full compensation to the injured patient.
SEPTA Accidents: SEPTA provides the citizens of Philadelphia with reasonably safe public transportation options. Nevertheless, accidents are common, because of the great number of passenger-miles traveled every year. Filing a claim against the government involves special rules and more procedural hurdles than an ordinary personal injury lawsuit does.
Slip and Fall Accidents: Actionable slip and fall accidents typically victimize customers who frequent commercial establishments, although the owner or renter of a private home can also be held liable to guests invited onto the property. Owners and renters who invite people onto their property are legally responsible for the safety of their premises.
Wrongful Death: A wrongful death claim is the type of claim that results when a personal injury victim dies from the injury. Although establishing liability works much the same way as establishing liability for a personal injury claim, damages are distributed among the victim’s close relatives in proportion to their losses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What if I don’t know who the owner of the dog is?
If you don’t know who the owner of the dog is, you should contact the animal control authorities. If the dog cannot be found, you may have to get rabies shots. You can file a claim against a dog’s keeper, however, even if he or she doesn’t own the dog.
Does Pennsylvania have a “one bite rule?”
Pennsylvania law classifies dog bites in three ways:
- The injury is “severe” as defined by law, and the dog had never acted aggressively before: The victim may recover full damages.
- The injury is not “severe” and the dog had never acted aggressively before: The victim may recover medical expenses only (“pain and suffering” damages are excluded, for example).
- The dog had acted aggressively before: The victim may recover full damages, regardless of whether the injury was severe.
What types of insurance policies cover dog bites?
Homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies typically cover dog bites. These policies often exclude certain breeds, however, such as pit bulls, that have a reputation for aggressiveness. There has been a recent tendency for insurers to limit their dog bite claim coverage.
What are the defenses against a dog bite claim?
Two main defenses apply:
- Trespassing: It wouldn’t be fair, for example, for a burglar to be able to sue the family being robbed for a dog bite.
- Provocation: The owner is generally not liable if the victim provoked the dog. The situation could be different, however, if the victim was a small child.
What will happen to the dog if my claim is successful?
Once you win your claim, the dog that bit you will have to be registered as a dangerous dog. Dangerous dog registration will impose certain moderately inconvenient requirements on the owner. The dog will probably not be “put to sleep” except in extreme cases.
Will the IRS tax my personal injury verdict or settlement?
No, it will not. Keep in mind, however, that punitive damages and judgment interest are not considered personal injury damages. As such, they can be taxed. Your judgment or settlement should clearly distinguish between punitive and compensatory damages to avoid a tax dispute.
Why do I need a lawyer to help me settle out of court with an insurance company?
When you file a claim, the insurance company becomes your opponent. Insurance adjustors are savvy negotiators with only one goal: To save money for their employer. They tend to become much more cooperative once they learn that you have retained a top-notch personal injury lawyer.
Can I obtain punitive damages?
In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are generally awarded if the defendant acted maliciously or with gross negligence. Since the defendant is the owner, not the dog, this can be difficult to establish. You might be eligible if, for example, the owner deliberately “sicced” the dog on you.
Should I resort to mediation to resolve my claim?
Perhaps, especially if the defendant is unwilling to settle otherwise. Mediation can be a less risky alternative than a trial, because jurors can be unpredictable. Although mediation is voluntary, once you sign a mediation agreement, it is as binding as any other contract.
If I Don’t Win, You Don’t Pay
Winning 95 percent of my cases carries certain advantages. One of the advantages is that it allows me is to make you this promise – you will owe me nothing in upfront legal fees, and not a dime in legal fees ever, unless I win compensation for you. My legal fees will be calibrated in proportion to how much you win so that the more you make, the more I make.
Take Decisive Action Today
I don’t dabble in various areas of law. My practice is 100 percent devoted to Pennsylvania personal injury claims, and I always represent victims rather than defendants. It is this kind of focus that has allowed me to become a top-tier Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer.
If you or someone you know has been injured by the careless actions of another, call me at 800-465-8795 (office) or 215-771-0430 (cell), or fill out my online contact form, so that we can schedule a free initial consultation where I can answer your questions and discuss your options. I am available 24/7, and I can visit you in the hospital if necessary.