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Seattle Dog Bite Lawyer

Yes, dogs are man’s best friend, yet serious dog bites still happen. There are estimated to be 4.5 million dog bites annually in the United States. If you have been bitten by a dog, consult with a lawyer who knows and understands dog bite law.

The Reality of Dog Bites

Angry dog showing teeth, about to bite

Dog Bite Law is Friendlier than this Dog

Most dogs don’t bite. However the ones that do often cause serious injuries. Most of the injuries are to the hands, legs, and face. Many victims are vulnerable young children or trusting adults. When dog attacks occur, it is often a vicious surprise. Victims of dog bites usually feel betrayed by a dog they thought they could trust.

Injuries from Dog Bites

Dog bites create scars and permanent disfigurement. They also induce emotional trauma in the victims. Some injured persons end up fearing dogs for many years. Washington State law regarding dog bites is helpful to the victims of dog bites.

Types of Dog Bite Cases

The law around dog bite personal injury cases is different depending on who or what is bitten. There are two main categories of dog bite cases.

  1. The dog bites a person
  2. The dog bites another dog

Dog Bites Person – The RCW is Favorable Law

RCW 16.08.040 imposes strict liability on the owners of biting dogs in Washington State. This dog bite law in Washington is very helpful for bite victims. If the dog bites a person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place — including the property of the dog owner, the victim is protected. It matters not whether the attacking dog had a propensity for viciousness or whether the owner had previous knowledge of the dog’s viciousness.

Dog Bites Dog – Good Dog Bite Law in the RCW

RCW 16.08.010 makes the owner or keeper of any dog in Washington State liable to the owner of any animal killed or injured by such dog, for the amount of damaged it sustained, and the costs of the collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Dog Get One Free Bite?

No, the dog does not get one free bite. Under previous Washington dog bite law, there was a trend toward allowing one free bite, under the rationale that the owner needed to know their dog had a propensity towards viciousness. Under current Washington law, this is no longer true. Strict liability is imposed upon the owner of the dog that bites a person, when that person is in a public place or lawfully on private property. There is no one free bite.

Provocation Defense in Washington Dog Bite Cases?

RCW 16.08.060 provides a complete defense to a Washington dog bite case where the victim provoked the dog attack.

What Is a Dog Bite Case Worth?

There are many factors to consider when analyzing the value of a dog bite case. Pictures are valuable. A helpless victim is a plus. The breed of the dog makes a difference. The amount of medical and psychological treatment needed is important. The permanency and location of the scars makes a big difference.

I Don’t Want To Sue My Friend?

Victims of dog bites agonize over what to do when the dog owner is a friend, neighbor, or family member. All persons involved in this are concerned about the dog and their relationship with the owner if a lawsuit is necessary. These are real concerns. There are ways to work around these concerns.

What to Do About a Dog Bite?

You have at least two possible remedies

  1. Administrative – Call Animal Control in your county or city. They are set up to handle problem dogs. Give them the facts and ask them to take appropriate action.
  2. Civil 
    1. Get the Dog Owner to Pay. You have a right to make the dog owner pay for the problems they have caused. To do this you must prove what you have lost. Get medical care and get detailed, close up photos. Figure out who owns the dog. If appropriate get animal control or the police involved. Hire an expert to evaluate and video the dog. Interview the dog’s veterinarian, dog sitter, dog walker, and neighbors. Get the dog owner to pay you for your injuries and even for your inconvenience. Get a dog bite lawyer to help if your injuries are serious. Contact us if you wish to talk about what can be done.
    2. Get the Business Establishment to Pay. Did the attack occur at a business? Businesses or others that harbor dogs know to be dangerous can be held liable.

What Is Strict Liability?

Strict liability allows a finding of liability (dog owner must pay) without requiring proof of negligence (fault). It eases the burden of proof. Strict liability makes it easier for the victim of a dog bite to recover for his or her injuries and medical bills, because of the inherent danger vicious dogs pose to humans. Strict liability is part of Washington Dog Bite Law.

Is it Against the Law to Own a Dog That You Know Bites People in Washington State?

A dog owner of a dog that bites can be sued. There are also numerous Washington State Statutes which regulate owners of dangerous and marauding dogs.

RCW 16.08.010 Liability for injuries to live stock by dogs
RCW 16.08.030 Marauding dogs regulation
RCW 16.08.070 Dangerous dog regulation
RCW 16.08.110  Breed based regulations

You don’t have to hire a Seattle dog bite lawyer to talk with one. A dog bite attorney in Seattle can consult with you for free. Contact us and we’ll talk.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help With My Dog Bite Case?

It’s a cost benefit analysis. Is the benefit of moving forward with your case and hiring a lawyer worth the cost?

Consider this

  • If your injuries are minor you may do better handling it on your own.
  • If your injuries are significant, consult a dog bite lawyer and get a legal opinion of what you should do

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