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PA DOG WARDENS

When Does a Dog Bite Victim Assume the Risk of a Dog Attack?

Posted on: November 28th, 2013  padog

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the issue of assumption of the risk in a PA dog attack in the case of Crance v. Sohanic, 496 A.2d 1230 (Pa. Super. 1985). A woman was visiting someone’s home when she decided to interact with another visitor’s dog. The dog owner told the woman to “be careful.” Nonetheless, she knelt down and began petting the dog.

The dog then bit her face causing several large facial lacerations that required plastic facial surgeries to attempt to minimize the permanent facial scars. At trial, the defendant dog owner requested that the jury be instructed on an assumption of the risk charge versus the PA dog mauling victim.

The PA Superior Court upheld the trial court’s refusal to give the assumption of the risk instruction. The Judges noted that the plaintiff was not told that the dog had bitten others previously. The generic warning of “be careful” was not viewed as providing the plaintiff with facts allowing her to be specifically aware of the dangers associated with this specific dog.