Court Broadens Definition of ‘Owner’ in Dog Bite Attack Case

Posted on: June 26th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

The issue faced by some Pennsylvania dog bite victims is the inability to prove that the actual owner of the dog was in control of it during the time of the dog bite attack. A 2006 decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania confirmed the broad scope of the word ‘owner’ as defined by the PA Dog Law. The defendant was charged with multiple violations of the PA Dog Law even though she was not the registered owner.

The trial evidence proved that she was feeding & caring for the dogs and permitted them to remain on her property. The Appeals Court upheld her conviction of violating the PA Dog Law because of her control over the dogs.

Frequently people who are not the registered owners of dogs walk or look after a neighbor’s dog. If a Pennsylvania dog bite attack occurs in that situation, the dog owner could claim that he has no legal responsibility for the victim’s injuries since he wasn’t in control of the dog at the time of the attack. This legal decision provides a PA dog bite victim with the ability to obtain fair compensation for their injuries from the insurance company representing the individual actually in control of the dog when the attack occurred. Comm. v. Lopez, 908 A.2d 991 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006)

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