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Can A Mother Sue After A Neighbor's Dog Attacks Her Daughter In PA?

 

A:

Children often sustain serious injuries after a dog attack in Pennsylvania.  A mother recently asked us if she can sue another tenant in her apartment building after her daughter was attacked by the tenant's dog.  She asked:

I live in an apartment complex. It is a "no dogs allowed" complex. One of my neighbors has had a dog in her apartment for several months. It's a very unfriendly dog and several neighbors have complained to management, who did nothing. The dog bit my daughter. Do I have a case?

Answer: We would need to know more about the "unfriendliness" of the dog and the actual facts surrounding your daughter being bitten before I can make a definitive call as to whether you "have a case."

With that said, I will address your question based on some assumptions.

Dog's "Unfriendliness"

In Pennsylvania, if an owner knows of his dog's vicious propensity or aggressive tendencies, he may be held liable if his dog attacks an innocent victim without provocation.  In PA dog attack cases, one way to prove liability is to show the dog owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive temperament.  In your daughter's situation, if the dog tried to attack and lunged at several neighbors prior to attacking your daughter, the dog owner may be responsible for your daughter dog attack.  The reason is the dog owner knew of his dog's vicious propensity and didn't warn others of the dog's known dangerous propensity or keep it away from others.

Dog Not Properly Controlled

Even if the dog did not have a vicious propensity but just gets out of the apartment all the time, the owner may also be held responsible.  Dog owners in Pennsylvania have the duty to keep proper and adequate control of their dogs.  If the dog always rushed out the door when the owner opens the door, the owner should keep the dog in another room when opening the door to prevent the dog from escaping. 

If your daughter was attacked by the dog because it escaped after the owner opened the door, then the dog owner may be negligent and responsible for your daughter's injuries for not properly controlling his dog.

See What Is Negligence In The Context Of A PA Dog Bite & Attack Injury Case?

Other Responsible Parties

Also, there may well be a case against the apartment owners/managers.  This will depend upon several factors, including what the neighbors told management about the dog, what management heard and saw with regard to the dog, etc.

For instance, a month prior to your daughter's attack, the dog tried to attack another neighbor in the building as he walked out of his apartment.  Fortunately, the neighbor saw that the dog was running toward him and ran back inside his apartment before the dog bit him.  The neighbor told building management, and management said that it would talk to the dog owner since no dogs are allowed in the building.

However, management never talked to the dog owner to remove the dog.  If management had asked the owner to remove his dog from the premises, then your daughter would not have been attacked.

In order to properly assess your daughter's case, we need to sit down and discuss all of these factors and other facts of the case.  Feel free to call me to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396.


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