According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. In one out of five cases, the victim requires medical attention for their injuries. In the Pacific Northwest alone, there are over 1,000 reported dog attacks, with pit bulls making up 22% of those incidents.
It is clear that dog attacks and bites can cause severe damage, leaving victims mutilated, debilitated, and scarred. While there are only a handful of deaths caused by dog attacks each year, many incidents end with serious injuries, some requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage. Medical bills will stack up quickly, especially when reconstructive surgery is necessary.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a dog attack, you might be wondering who is liable for your injuries. If you are looking to file a personal injury claim, you might be concerned whether or not a dog bite injury is viable in a claim. This is exactly what our Marysville personal injury attorneys are trained for.
Laws Regarding Dog Bites
In the past, Washington State as observed the “One Bite Rule,” which meant that dog owners have one “free bite” before liability lawsuits could be pursued. However, it did not mandate that dog attacks must be reported, which caused an issue when liability cases could not prove that a dog was biting for the second time. Washington state legislation was amended as a result, and and our lawmakers removed the requirement to prove that the dog’s owner was aware of its aggressive behavior prior to the bite in question.
This statute (RCW 16.08.040) states:
“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
It’s important to hire lawyers that understand this information and know exactly how to apply it to your case. If you’re wondering what this means for a victim of a dog bite immediately following the attack, here are a few vital points:
- Regardless of a dog’s previous behaviour, the owner may be held liable for any injuries it causes.
- If the owner is aware that their dog is aggressive and knowingly harbors it, they are responsible for injuries it causes and liability is expanded.
- If a person displays negligent behavior such as failing to discipline or feed the dog, they can be held liable for injuries.
- Violation of animal control laws such as leash guidelines can indicate fault in the owner of the aggressive dog.
Dog Bite Injuries
If you have been involved in a dog attack or know someone who has been injured by a dog, you already know how severe dog bites can be. Some victims suffer extensive scarring, disability, infection, and even permanent disfigurement. A dog bite can also cause chronic pain and nerve damage, depending on the location of the bite on the victim’s body. Plastic surgeries and physical therapy are often required after a severe dog bite.
Here is a list of frequent dog bite injuries:
- Puncture wounds
- Orthopedic injuries
- Psychological trauma
Dog Bites and Children
Children are most likely to be injured by an aggressive dog, with dog attacks peaking as the fifth leading reason children are rushed to the emergency room. Because they are still learning how to properly play with and manage dogs, children between the ages of five and nine are at the highest risk of injury due to dog bites. When it comes to the most severe dog bites, however, children ages four and under receive the worst, often sustaining wounds to the head and neck.
Our Marysville attorneys have worked with numerous dog bite victims. We understand the complexities of the laws and the impact of the injuries, as well as how to effectively pursue compensation for the injured party. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to a dog bite, it’s time to contact a Marysville personal injury attorney at Russell & Hill, PLLC. With the help of our years of experience, we can help you get justice and recover compensation for medical bills and suffering.
What Compensation Can You Receive for a Dog Bite?
There are no set rules regarding monetary compensations received by the victim of a dog bite. However, generally speaking, there are some types of compensation that dog attack victims can expect if they hire an attorney:
- Medical treatment, including ambulance fees, emergency room care, and hospitalization
- Reconstructive and plastic surgeries to repair disfigurement or reduce scarring
- Recovery treatments for pain management like physical therapy
- Counseling to recover from psychological and emotional trauma caused by the attack. This counseling can be for a number of reasons, including fear of dogs, dealing with disfigurement, and more.
- Loss of income or earning capacity due to the injuries
- Any medications prescribed by medical professionals, like rabies vaccinations or antibiotics
- Pain and suffering
Family Members Compensation
Family members of dog bite victims may also receive compensation for what is known as a “bystander claim.” This particular claim is filed when a witness, often an immediate family member, suffers emotional trauma as a direct result of watching the dog attack occur.
Additionally, a spouse whose husband or wife has been prevented from working by the attack may file for compensation under a “loss of consortium” claim. Finally, in the most extreme situations, a family member may file a wrongful death claim if the attack resulted in the victim’s death.
Special Circumstance Compensation
Some unique cases may allow the victim of a dog bite to get special consideration compensation. This can include job retraining, prepaid vacations, and other special items of loss that pertain to each individual case. These special claims are difficult, however, and they should be dealt with under the supervision and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Estimating the entire amount of a victim’s compensation is a complicated process that necessitates the training, knowledge, and experience of seasoned attorneys. You can find that kind of expertise here at Russell & Hill, PLLC. All it takes is for you to fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation with us.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
Due to the new Washington state legislature (discussed above) that amended the former “one bite rule,” the individual responsible for the dog when the attack took place is held liable. Whether they were negligent, or in violation local law, they can be held liable. Dog bite cases can be very complicated, so it is important that victims contact passionate lawyers who will pursue full and fair compensation.
Who Pays for a Dog Bite?
Many victims and their family members are immediately concerned about paying for the damages caused by a dog bite. After all, medical expenses and possibly counseling bills pile up quickly, causing worry about how they will be affording all the treatment, as important as the treatment is.
Thankfully, this is not a concern in most cases. While the dog’s owner is technically the liable party, financial damages are normally covered by one of the following sources:
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Motorhome owner’s insurance
- Landlord’s insurance (covering the owner, occupier, and/or manager of property)
- Commercial general liability insurance (covers stores, offices, or other businesses)
- Employers insurance (protects employees only)
- Motor vehicle insurance (occurs if the dog attack involved a vehicle, such as the bite happening inside a car, the dog attacked someone while in the car, the dog was tied to a car and attacked a pedestrian, etc.)
If you are currently facing financial burdens caused by a dog attack, you can rest easy. The above insurance policies, if available, will pay every penny toward your damages, leaving you to receive just compensation and fully recover.
Resolving Your Dog Bite Personal Injury
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a dog attack, contact the Marysville dog bite attorneys at Russell & Hill, PLLC today. As experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers, we understand the entire claim process, from investigating your case and compiling the necessary evidence, to managing the case as it progresses. We will manage payments and documentation throughout your recovery time. With our expert assistance, you will be able to focus on your recovery in peace. For more information, contact our offices today.