Now, more than ever, Americans own dogs. And over the summer, you will see more of these four-legged friends walking on a leash at the park or tableside at any of the cafes and restaurants that are becoming more pet-friendly. While that paints a nice picture, there are still risks involved when you bring humans, and dogs unfamiliar with those other humans, together in small spaces.
Any dog can get stressed out amidst noise and commotion, resulting in a dog bite or attack. There are 4.7 million dog bites in the United States every year, according to the CDC, with 800,000 of those bites needing medical care.
Here are a few things to consider if you have been involved in such a nightmare.
Overview of the Law
The new dog bite legislation in the state of Washington is very favorable to dog bite victims. Amending the previous “one bite” rule, the revised dog bite law basically says that the owner of any dog that bites another person both in a public place or lawfully in a private place, like on your property, is liable for the damages from the dog bite. And that’s regardless of the former viciousness of the dog, or the owner’s knowledge of such.
Overview of the Lawsuit
The deadline to file a lawsuit that seeks damages for a dog bite injury is within three years from the date of the injury. The first priority, of course, is to get the medical care you need, but the proceeding steps are:
- Be able to identify the dog and owner, as well as their contact info and insurance info.
- See if there were any witnesses and their contact info
- Take photos of your injuries
- Report the incident to animal control
Common Defenses of dog owners are:
- Trespassing – If a person is bitten by a dog on private property, they must legally be there; if not, the dog owner has a legitimate defense.
- Provocation – If the person is bitten taunted the dog or threatened its owner, the dog owner may be able to prove that the dog was provoked.
- Posted signs – If a dog owner posts a sign on their property that says there is a dangerous animal on the property, this could make the owner liable-free
- Law enforcement working dogs – These specially trained dogs and their owners are liability-free if the dog bites a suspect while on duty.
What if you know the dog owner and don’t want to file a lawsuit? Never fear, the liable dog owner should be covered under homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, renter’s insurance, landlord insurance, or other options, depending on where the incident took place.
We Have You Covered
Over our extensive years of experience, our team of personal injury attorneys at Russell & Hill, PLLC has helped many dog bite victims work through the complex laws and the consequences of dog owners for our client’s injuries.
Some injuries are so severe that they may require multiple reconstructive surgeries, which adds up to steep medical costs. We’re here to recover the most compensation for your medical costs, pain, and suffering.