While many people think that dogs are adorable and loyal companions, these animals can also be dangerous. Dog bites are not an uncommon occurrence in Washington and other states across the country. Those who suffer dog bite injuries are facing not only medical expenses but also devastating emotional trauma.
If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, consider contacting an attorney to explore your options for compensation. Attorney Scott Terry can review your particular situation and help you understand whether or not you can pursue legal action to recover damages. Terry Law Firm, P.S. serves clients in Sumner, Washington, as well as Puyallup, Kent, Bonney Lake, and throughout Thurston, Pierce, and King counties.
Get the Legal Assistance You Need
Washington Dog Bite Law
Dog bite laws vary from one state to another. The vast majority of states have adopted strict liability laws for dog bites. Washington is one of those states. Under Washington’s dog bite law, dog owners are liable for any injuries suffered by individuals in public places or lawfully on private property.
The strict liability theory means that dog owners are liable for injuries caused by their dogs regardless of whether the owner was actually negligent. If strict liability did not apply to dog bite cases, injured victims would have to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent in connection with the incident.
Liability in a Dog Bite Case
In Washington, victims of dog bite incidents do not need to prove that the owner of the dog was aware of their animal’s viciousness or violent tendencies in the past in order to hold the owner liable for the incident. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the following parties may be held liable in a dog bite case:
- The owner of the dog
- The owner of the property
- The person responsible for watching the dog
- The person responsible for walking the dog
Often, determining liability in a dog bite case can be challenging considering that Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. Under the legal doctrine, an injured party can bring a claim for compensation even if they are mostly at fault for the incident. Examples of dog bite incidents in which the attacked person may be partially to blame include: provoking the dog, mistreating the dog, or touching the dog despite being warned against it.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
As mentioned earlier, dog owners in Washington are strictly liable for incidents in which their pet bites or attacks another person. It means that the injured victims can file a personal injury claim to obtain compensation from the dog owner.
There are two types of available compensatory damages in dog bite cases in Washington:
- Economic damages compensate the injured victim for the losses and expenses incurred as a result of the incident (these damages are easier to quantify); and
- Non-economic damages refer to subjective losses sustained by the injured victim (these are harder to quantify).
There is a time limit on how long dog bite victims have to file a personal injury claim against the owner. As with any other personal injury claim in Washington, the statute of limitations for dog bites cases is three years from the date of the injury. If the injured person fails to bring a claim within three years, they may be barred from recovering compensation.
The pain and trauma that results from a dog bite incident can be severe and disruptive, not to mention that victims of dog bite incidents may suffer immense financial losses. Some dog bite victims are left with permanent scars following the incident. Consider contacting a dog bite attorney in Sumner, Washington, to determine the available damages in your case and help you navigate the legal process.
Dog Bite Attorney in Sumner, Washington Attorney Scott Terry helps victims who were bitten and attacked by dogs pursue the compensation to which they are entitled. Terry Law Firm, P.S. serves clients in Sumner, Washington, as well as surrounding areas, including Kent, Orting, Bonney Lake, Lake Tapps, Auburn, and throughout Pierce, King, and Thurston counties. Schedule a case review to determine liability and discuss your compensation options after a dog bite incident.