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My 3 year old son was bitten in the face by a dog in PA and is probably going to need more surgery when he is in his teens. Should we sue now or wait until he is older?

 

A:

In Pennsylvania, in order to bring a personal injury lawsuit, whether it is for a car accident or a dog bite/attack, the injured victim, also known as the plaintiff, has 2 years from the date of the accident/attack to file a lawsuit.  This is called the statute of limitations.  If the victim files a lawsuit more than 2 years after the accident, he will be barred from filing a lawsuit. 

There are very limited circumstances where the victim may file a lawsuit after the 2 year statute of limitations.  One of those exceptions is if the victim is a minor.  Minors have 2 years from the day they turn 18 to file personal injury lawsuits.  Therefore, in your son's case, he has until he turns 20 to file a PA dog attack lawsuit against the dog owner.

With that said, I would suggest that you talk to a PA dog attack lawyer as soon as possible even though a lawsuit does not have to be filed right now.  The obvious reason for this is that evidence and witnesses are going to be difficult to locate if you wait until your son turns 18.

We want to make sure we gather all of the evidence that is needed for a PA dog bite lawsuit now, rather than 15 years from now.  There may be police reports regarding the dog attacking someone else prior to your son's attack; these reports may show that the owner knew of the dog's propensity to attack.  It is important to note that proving a dog's propensity to attack is not required in order to prevail in a PA dog bite case.  A dog bite victim only has to prove that the dog had the requisite level of viciousness.

Also, the dog owner may not be around in 15 years.  The owner may move or pass away.  In that case, even if your son has a viable dog attack case, you will not be able to sue because we cannot locate the dog owner.

Medical records may be hard to retrieve in 15 years.  If your son received multiple medical surgeries and treatment, we would need those records to prove his damages in his dog attack case. 

By no means am I saying that you have to file a lawsuit immediately.  We generally file a lawsuit after we have a better picture of your son's injuries and damages, i.e., what is his short-term and long-term prognosis. 

We don't want to file a lawsuit before we know how his injuries are going to affect him.  If we settle the case and your son has to get another surgery after the case settles, he will be barred from filing an additional lawsuit.  You don't get a second bite out of the apple. 

Therefore, we want to make sure we have all of the information, i.e., medical records, medical prognosis, dog owner's information, police reports before we file a lawsuit.  We may have to wait a year or so before we can file a lawsuit.  If so, then you, as the natural parent and guardian, will file on behalf of your son.

We always offer FREE consultations.  Feel free to call me to discuss your son's dog attack.  877.944.8396

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