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FOX LAW OBTAINS FULL POLICY LIMITS FOR WOMAN BITTEN BY UNLEASHED DOG

$100,000 settlement in Philadelphia  County (full homeowner’s policy limits) involving a woman hit by an out of control, unleashed large dog causing her to fracture her leg which required surgery and extensive physical therapy.

Fox Law

Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyers

Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyers

Don’t get us wrong… Even though we are Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyers, we love dogs.  We even have a dog-friendly office policy.  However, as much as we love our pooches, a dangerous dog can cause permanent scars or serious injury to people and other friendly dogs.

Every dog related injury is unique. Victims may suffer injury when they fall while running away from a dog that was chasing them or when they are knocked over by an aggressive dog. Even if you weren’t actually bitten, you may deserve compensation for your injuries if a dog wasn’t on a leash and tried to attack you.

Dogs may react when they feel threatened, scared, or want to protect their owners. Some are even trained to be vicious. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their animals – they must follow leash laws and dog bite laws for the area where they live and places they visit.

Pennsylvania's Strict Dog Laws

Pennsylvania law imposes strict liability for all damages where the dog bite injury is severe or the dog previously engaged in dangerous behavior.  Pennsylvania also imposes strict liability for medical bills even without bad behavior on the part of the dog or its owner.  In other cases, victims can recover full compensation if the dog owner was negligent or violated an animal control law.

In Pennsylvania, a dog bite injury victim is entitled to full compensation if the dog has previously bitten another person without justification or indicated a tendency to do so.  If the dog has never bitten before, Pennsylvania dog bite injury law offers two different remedies that depend upon the degree of injury.

You are Responsible for the Actions of the Dog You Own

Pennsylvania dog owners are liable for dog bite injury when a person is bitten, based simply on owning the dog that did the biting. Fortunately for all persons who are involved, the victim’s legal damages are covered by most homeowners and renters insurance policies purchased by dog owners, and by general liability policies that insure businesses and public entities.

If you or your child is the victim of a dog bite injury, you deserve compensation for the medical bills, lost wages, scars, and pain and suffering.

What is the law in Pennsylvania regarding homeowners insurance and dogs?

Pennsylvania law states that “no liability policy or surety bond issued pursuant to this act or any other act may prohibit coverage from any specific breed of dog.” (3 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §459-507-A(d)).

At first glance, you might think this means insurance companies cannot refuse to insure a property based on the fact that the property owner also owns or contains a certain breed of dog.  However, like all companies, insurance companies can choose at the outset who they want and do not want to do business with for any number of reasons (as long as their choices are not discriminatory of a protected class).  Factors such as where the home is located, the condition of the home, and the ownership of a certain breed of dog, even if the dog has never displayed signs of aggression, can affect whether the insurance company is willing to insure a home. (See “Homeowner's Insurance.” Homeowner's Insurance - CPAA | The Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, www.cpaa.info/resources/99-homeowner-s-insurance.html.) 

Is it legal for insurance companies to deny coverage if you own a pit bull” or other dangerous dog?

The correct interpretation of the law is that an insurance company can refuse to do business with you if you own a dangerous breed of dog, however they cannot insure a home while expressly excluding coverage of a dog living in the home, regardless of the breed.  In other words, the insurance company has to insure all of the home, including the dog, no matter the breed of dog, or not insure the home at all.  However, insurance companies can raise premiums to account for the risk of harm created by the existence of a certain breed of dog.

Is it legal for apartment buildings to forbid certain breeds of dogs?

When an insurance company is contracting with a conglomerate corporate rental property, the parties may agree that there be no pit bulls housed in the communal residential area.

Legal Definition of a Dangerous Dog

In Pennsylvania, (with the exception of Marple township and borough of Glenolden*), a pit bull is not automatically considered a “dangerous dog.”  A dangerous dog is defined generally as a dog that has attacked a person or domestic animal without provocation*.  If you own a dog that is by definition considered a “dangerous dog”, then Pennsylvania requires owners to have liability insurance of at least $50,000.

  • * Provocation is determined by Pennsylvania’s case law
  • *Check with your township to confirm their determination of a dangerous dog.

Do You Own A Dangerous Dog?

Has your dog:

  • Inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property?
  • Killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal while off the owner’s property?
  • Attacked a human being?
  • Inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions:

  • Was your dog Provoked*?

You Have A Dangerous Dog

You DO NOT Have A Dangerous Dog

Question:

I have been a Pennsylvania homeowner for more than 60 days, and just adopted a pit bull… but she’s not considered a “dangerous dog” by law. Is my insurance company going to cancel my policy?

No.  But the insurance company can raise your premiums.  In a ruling on whether canceling a policy based on a dog’s breed is an unfair insurance practice, Pennsylvania case law holds that a dog’s breed does not justify canceling or not renewing a policy unless there is proof that the particular dog creates a “substantial increase of hazard” in the risk assumed by the insurer (i.e. there is evidence that the particular dog in question is actually a “dangerous dog”) (40 P.S. §1171.5(a)(9))..  Again, this does not mean the insurance company will not underwrite the risk associated with a dog that does not meet the definition of a “dangerous dog”… the insurance company just can’t cancel a consumer’s policy that has been active for 60 days or refuse to renew it.

Question:

I don’t live in Pennsylvania, own a pit bull, and am having a hard time finding an insurance company to not give me an exclusion.  What insurance companies are dog breed friendly?

Dog Friendly Insurance Companies

Dog Breed Friendly Insurance Companies Insurance Companies who Historically Deny Coverage to Consumers Who Own Pit Bulls
·         Foremost Insurance Company

·         State Farm Insurance Company

·         USAA

·         Amica

·         Chubb

·         Fireman’s

·         Nationwide

·         Donegal Mutual

·         Encompass

·         Harleysville

·         Lititz Mutual

·         Met Life

·         Ohio Casualty

·         Liberty Mutual

·         Farmers

·         Allstate

Philadelphia Dog Bite LawyersFox Law Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyers welcome you to contact us for a prompt and free consultation regarding your dog bite case.

No case is too big or too small for an evaluation.  Fox Law welcomes the opportunity to represent you. In your consultation, your case will be discussed and the facts will be reviewed and evaluated. If Fox Law accepts your case, it will be handled on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing. We carry all of the costs and assume all of the risks when we accept your case.

FOX LAW is conveniently located at Two Logan Square in Center City Philadelphia. In addition to Philadelphia County, we serve Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Allentown, and Reading Pennsylvania. For your convenience, John Fox makes house calls, when necessary.

WE MAKE A RECOVERY FOR YOU OR IT'S FREE.