Schemery Zicolello

Premises liability laws protect those harmed by dogs

A Williamsport property can become dangerous because of a number of factors. Inadequate lighting in a parking lot, water on the floor of a grocery store, uneven sidewalks or walkways and even properties in disrepair can become hazardous others. Under premises liability laws, businesses have a duty to protect the people that come onto their property. If the businesses know of, or should have known of, a dangerous property condition and someone gets hurt, that business is liable for the injury. Injured parties can receive compensation.

However, many people do not realize that premises liability laws extend to homeowners as well. When homeowners invite someone into their home, they need to make sure that person is going to be safe from hazardous conditions. Sometimes, this means keeping visitors safe from the family pets -- especially larger dog breeds.

In some states, lawmakers have tried to limit people's exposure to certain breeds in order to make them safe. They do this by making it illegal to own certain breeds of dogs, require stricter safety precautions or require dog owners to carry special insurance. These dog breeds often include Akitas, Dobermans, Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers and Rottweilers.

Many groups have come out against this so called breed-discrimination. They claim that responsible dog owners should not all suffer just because they own a certain breed of dog. Recently, the American Bar Association has come out against these types of laws as well. The Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section voted to urge state and local government to repeal laws that encourage any discrimination based on breed.

Instead, the ABA encourages these governments to adopt laws which create harsher punishments for irresponsible dog owners. In any case, dog owners whose dogs hurt others need to be held responsible for the damaged caused. Those who are attacked by dogs have the right to compensation. Currently, in Pennsylvania, breed specific laws are not allowed.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pet Tales: Lawyers go to bat for pit bulls," Linda Wilson Fuoco, Sept. 22, 2012

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Commonwealth v. Candice Steinbacher – Motion for Judgement Acquittal Granted

Motion for Judgment of Acquittal for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) prosecution was granted by Lycoming County President Judge Nancy L. Butts, after Attorney Kyle Rude argues that the Commonwealth could not prove Ms. Steinbacher was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. Ms. Steinbacher was arrested after Williamsport City Police believed she switched seats with her boyfriend in order to avoid an arrest for DUI.

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