Monday, May 24, 2010

Who Let the Dogs Out?

If you are attacked and bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to damages for the injuries you suffer. Although some dogs are known to be more prone to biting than others, when you are bitten it does not matter what the breed is. All dogs have sharp teeth.

Pennsylvania, like all states, has a time limit in which to file a personal injury action. Different rules apply to different situations, so it is best to obtain legal represenation immediately to make sure you are covered and do not miss the deadlines.

You should act now to speak to an attorney who can help you. When a dog bite occurs, records must be obtained, photos must be taken and the appropriate claims must be reported to the insurance companies involved. The longer you wait, the harder it is to take control of the situation.

The claim for damages is handled by the homeowners’ insurance policy maintained by the dog owner. Close to one third of claims against homeowners’ policies are for dog bite attacks. The dog owner is responsible for the behavior of the dog. There is no need to worry if the owner is a neighbor or a friend...the insurance company handles the matter for them. This is why we all have homeowners’ policies and this is why we pay our premiums.

The damages involved can include the medical expenses, current and future, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement and scarring and emotional damages. The emotional damages from a dog bite can be devastating. Most scars require at least a year for a doctor to determine the course of treatment and whether the scar is permanent and requires plasctic surgery.

Children are subject to dog bites and are particularly vulnerable to bites around the head and face. They simply do not know how to protect themselves. The emotional trauma to them will last a lifetime. Treatment for a child may have to wait even longer than a year.

Pennsylvania has a hybrid approach to liability. There is strict liability for all damages incurred if the dog previously exhibited dangerous behavior or if the injuries are severe. There is also strict liability for medical bills. Other circumstances giving rise to laiblity occur where the owner was negligent or violated the animal control law, which requires that owners keep their dogs under control, either confined at home, or on a leash when away from the home.

Important Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
  • Seek immediate medical attention — even if it seems like a minor bite-this is especially important if the dog is not current on shots.
  • Take photographs of all injuries, even before there is cleanup of the wounds, and after cleanup of the wounds. See this page for instruction on taking photos:
  • Gather information from witnesses, if there were any. Get names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Report the matter immediately to the police. This creates a record of the incident.
  • Obtain the dog's veterinarian records about shots, diseases and other medical history.
  • Do not try to negotiate with the animal's owner privately. Make sure that the claim is directed to their homeowner’s insurer. It is best not to engage in conversations about this matter with the owner.
  • Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 


Call me at 215.752-3732 or visit me at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cruising Out of Control

The story below appeared in my email box recently and. as a Bucks County personal injury attorney,  I thought it was worth examining in more depth and passing along to others, slightly honed down:

A 36 year old female had an accident in which she totaled her car. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydro-plane and literally flew through the air. She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence! When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know:


She thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain. But the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on when your car begins to hydro-plane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed making you take off like an airplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly what had occurred. The patrolman said this warning should be listed on the driver's seat sun-visor:


We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed, but we don't tell them to use the cruise control only when the pavement is dry.

MY THOUGHTS: When I took the time to do some online research, I discovered that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia advises motorists to turn off the cruise control in dark and wet conditions. The fact of the matter is that driving in the rain or snow or wet conditions already creates some hazard and risk of hydro-planing. The driver must be able to react quickly. Although the cruise control disengages rather quickly, it is still an extra step in regaining control. Until the cruise control is disengaged, the vehicle continues moving at the set speed. Immediate reduction of speed is critical.

The cruise control cannot anticipate changes in the road surface or the direction of the road, either of which can alert a watchful driver to slow down in anticipation of the big puddle ahead or the sharp curve in the road. Another consideration is the fact that when you have the cruise control on, you tend to cruise, literally...and many of us move our foot a little bit away from the brake pedal to give it a rest. All of these factors can lead to disaster if you begin to hydro-plane.

You can find anything online, which includes all sorts of sites dedicated to debunking hoaxes and scams. The email story above has been around for awhile and got around enough to be the subject of blog posts like the one in the link below. While the author attempts to debunk the story as to cruise control causing hydro-planing, he does admit that it is better not to use cruise control in rainy and wet road conditions. If you want to examine the whys and wherefores, there is a link in the article which explains the issues in more depth.

MY CONCLUSION: I will not engage the cruise control when I am traveling in rainy or wet conditions. In rainy conditions, the wheels of the car can spin along the surface of the water on the road. Also, the wetness can bring the oil embedded in the blacktop from exhaust fumes to the top of the road as well, making for more slippery conditions and catastrophic car accidents. Cruise control can just make you lose control!

Do you have questions?  You can find me at

Photo from