What can I do if I’ve been bitten?

If you have been the victim of a dog bite, we suggest you do the following:

Seek Medical Attention

Dog bites can cause serious, and sometimes permanent, injury. If you have been bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Document the Evidence:

Take photographs of the injuries you sustained from the attack. If there are witnesses, take down their names and contact information.

Get the Name, Address, and Insurance Provider of the Dog Owner:

This is necessary information you will need for your case. The actions of the dog are covered by the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy. If the owner does not have insurance, they are responsible for paying the compensation.


File a Report with Animal Control and the Police:

Both the police and animal control need to be notified of the event. Have a report filed as soon as possible after the attack.

Hire a lawyer:

If you have sustained bad injuries from a dog bite, the best thing you can do is to consult an experienced dog bite lawyer.   The rules governing compensation vary from state to state, and can get complicated. In serious cases, consult an expert attorney familiar with your state’s law.

In addition to understanding the law, attorneys can help you get a larger settlement. Most insurance adjusters offer victims of dog bites only 10% to 20% of the payout they could have received by hiring an attorney.

Remember, suffering from a dog bite is no different than being the victim of a negligent driver in a car accident. In terms of receiving reimbursement for your losses, these two scenarios are the same. If you are bitten by a dog, seek experienced dog bite lawyers help to ensure you are fully compensated for all your losses.

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How do dog bites happen?

Although many dog attacks occur near the animal’s home, dog bites can happen in any public space. For example, a pet owner lets their dog off its leash in a park, and the dog, once free to roam, is now free to bite. Even though most municipalities have strict leash laws meant to prevent dogs running “at large”, a leash-less dog in a park or other public area is an all too familiar scenario, cropping up in many of my cases.

Out of the 4 million dog bites a year, the majority are minor and heal quickly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and over the years we have represented many clients who have been badly injured by dogs.

Just because dogs are pets does not mean they are not dangerous, and any bites should be taken very seriously. Dog bites can cause the following serious injuries:

  • Bone Fractures
  • Severe scarring
  • Infections
  • Nerve damage
  • Rabies
  • Emotional scarring

What happens to the dog

(a) Confinement.–Any dog which bites or attacks a human being shall be confined in quarters approved by a designated employee of the Department of Health, a State dog warden or employee of the Department of Agriculture, an animal control officer or a police officer. The dog may be detained and isolated in an approved kennel or at the dog owner’s property or at another  location approved by the investigating officer. Where the dog is detained is at the discretion of the investigating officer. All dogs so detained must be isolated for a minimum of ten days. Any costs incurred in the detaining and isolation of the dog shall be paid by the offending dog’s owner or keeper or both. If the dog’s owner or keeper is not known, the Commonwealth is responsible for all reasonable costs for holding and detaining the dog.

(b) Bite victims.–The following shall apply:

(1) The investigating officer shall be responsible for notifying the bite victim of the medical results of the offending dog’s confinement. Any cost to the victim for medical treatment resulting from an attacking or biting dog must be paid fully by the owner or keeper of the dog. The Commonwealth shall not be liable for medical treatment costs to the victim.

(2)(i) For the purpose of this subsection, the term “medical results of the offending dog’s confinement” shall mean, except as provided in subparagraph (ii), information as to whether the quarantined dog is still alive and whether it is exhibiting any signs of being infected with the rabies virus.

(ii) If a nonlethal test for rabies is developed, the term shall mean the results of the test and not the meaning given in subparagraph (i).

(c) Exception.–When a dog that bites or attacks a human being is a service dog or a police work dog in the performance of duties, the dog need not be confined if it is under the active supervision of a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine.


Can I sue the dog that bit me?

Can I sue the dog that bit me? This is a common question many clients have asked me over the years. To the best of my knowledge, no dog has ever been made a defendant in the state of Pennsylvania! However, although dogs can’t be sued, by law the pet owner is fully responsible for the dog’s actions, including any injury caused by the animal.

This question about suing the dog is asked for very good reason: dog bites can be serious business, and if bitten, you are entitled to compensation for both medical expenses and reimbursement for any lost earnings. Unfortunately, out of the 4 million Americans bitten annually by a dog and the 800,000 who present for medical attention, only a fraction claim damages from insurance payouts.

Use this site as a resource to learn more about what to do if you, or someone in your family, has been bitten and you wish to speak to our dog bite lawyers.

How to Report a Dog Bite in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Police Department
750 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Non-Emergency: 311


Philadelphia Animal Control

2300 Poplar Street. Building #4
Philadelphia, PA 19130

To report a dog bite, you can call 267-385-3800 which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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