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My son was chased by a dog in our neighborhood, but thankfully, he was not attacked. However, he tripped on the sidewalk as he was running away and fractured his leg. Can I sue even though the dog didn’t bite my son?

 

A:

Yes, even though your son was not bitten or attacked by the dog, you may still be able to file a dog bite claim on your son’s behalf in PA.

The law that applies in this situation is Pennsylvania’s “leash law.” Despite its name, it does not require dog owners to have their dogs on leashes.  However, it does require dogs to be under proper and adequate control by their owners.  Therefore, dogs should be on leashes if the owners are taking the dogs out for walks to avoid the risk of dogs running away.  If dogs are left outside homes, they should be confined to the property in the front or back yards, i.e., by fences, so that the dogs cannot escape.

Related: What You Need To Know If You Were Attacked And Injured By An Unleashed Dog In Pennsylvania

The crux of your son’s case hinges on whether the dog owner exercised reasonable control of the dog.  Each case is different, and I would need more information from you and conduct an investigation.

For instance, if the dog often escaped from his front yard and the dog owner knew about it, then the dog owner may be responsible for your son’s injuries.  Let’s assume that the dog is kept in the home’s fenced in front yard.  The fence is not high enough, and the dog is able to jump over the fence and run around the neighborhood.  The owner is aware of the dog escaping, but continues to leave the dog out in the front yard.  Each time the dog is in the front yard, it jumps over the fence.

In this situation, it can be argued that the owner did not keep his dog under reasonable control.  He knew that the dog often jumped the fence, but continued to put him out there.

Even though the dog didn’t bite or attack your son, he fell because he was trying to run away from a dog that was not under reasonable control by its owner.  Therefore, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the dog owner.

The other issue with dog attack and non-bite dog injury cases is that even if you have a case, there might not be any insurance coverage.  In a typical dog attack case in PA, the dog owner’s home insurance would cover the victim’s injuries and damages under the homeowner’s liability coverage.  However, some homeowners’ insurance policies exclude dog attacks.  Therefore, determining whether there is insurance coverage is very important.

Related: Insurance Coverage For Victims' Injuries In Dog Attack Or Dog Bite Cases

It is important that you speak to a Pennsylvania dog bite injury lawyer who is well versed in Pennsylvania dog bite/attack law about your son’s accident. Feel free to contact me at 877.944.8396 to set up a FREE case review.


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