Your Dog Can Get You Sued – Really

Almost everybody loves dogs, but dogs can be unpredictable, and dogs that are not well trained can be downright dangerous. Charges were recently filed against a Central Pennsylvania man by a deliverywoman who was subcontracted by Federal Express and who was simply doing her job in attempting to deliver a package to his home. The man’s three dogs ran from around the back of the house, ripped the package from the deliverywoman’s hands and then proceeded to bite her repeatedly, leaving numerous injuries, scars and extreme psychological trauma. The plaintiff in the case is now suffering from anxiety and is reportedly experiencing difficulty sleeping.

So Man’s Best Friend Might Not Necessarily Be Your Best Friend

In the filing it was noted that this was not the first instance in which the same three dogs attacked, nor was it the only violation involving the dogs that the owner was being charged with. Not only were the dogs not properly restrained, but no warning signs had been posted on the property following the dogs’ first attack incident. Additionally, the dogs were unvaccinated and had previously pursued another delivery person. The suit is seeking over $50,000 for each count that the defendant has been charged with.

This case was extreme, but it begs the following question: If you are attacked by a dog that you didn’t provoke, and you were not trespassing on somebody else’s property or there without good cause, what are your rights and what should you do?

Before You Act

The first and most important thing that you need to determine is who owns the dog that attacked you. In most dog bite cases, liability rests with the dog’s owner, particularly if they knew that the dog presented a bite risk. Of course, proving that kind of knowledge is often difficult and many defense lawyers will advise their dog-owning clients of a number of protections against liability, including if you in any way provoked the dog, were trespassing or were unreasonably careless or aware of taking a risk around the animal. In the case of the delivery woman, the dog owner had every expectation of receiving a mail delivery and has no grounds for laying blame on the mail carrier.

Despite the best efforts of defense lawyers, dog bite personal injury cases can be won. If the owner has allowed his dog to run loose, if you were on the dog owner’s property lawfully and the dog has a proven history of previous attacks (all of which were certainly the case in the above-cited case in Central Pennsylvania) then you have a pretty good chance of winning your case.

Being attacked by a dog can be a truly traumatic event, and the resulting injuries can be disfiguring and debilitating. If you are attacked by a dog then it is important that you seek immediate medical attention, because sometimes such injuries as compartment syndrome or infection may develop unexpectedly. Make sure that you keep all receipts and document everything relating to your injuries, including photos of your injuries and medical treatment receipts.

W. Silva is a writer and editor for

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