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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RCW 16.08.060 provides a complete defense to a Washington dog bite case where the victim provoked the dog attack.
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.
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.
You have at least two possible remedies
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.
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.