Depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack, an attorney may be able to help you sue for a dog bite that caused you economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
However, you may not need to file a lawsuit in order to recover compensation for a dog bite injury. In fact, many dog bite claims settle without having to go to court.
Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance typically covers the losses from dog bite injuries caused by an insured’s pet. Therefore, you will likely not sue the owner of a dog directly unless their insurance will not pay. Instead, you will file a claim with the insurance company.
The experienced dog bite lawyers at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC have helped the wrongfully injured in Washington for over 50 years. We understand the hardships faced by victims of canine attacks. We are committed to helping our clients pursue the maximum compensation to which they are entitled.
When Can You File a Claim Against a Dog Owner?
In Washington, the owner of any dog that bites a person, while the person is lawfully on the property, is held strictly liable for damages, regardless of whether they knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities, or whether they failed to control the animal. Thus, victims of dog bites are almost always able to file claims for damages against the pet’s owner.
Damage claims for victims of dog attacks can seek financial recovery for a variety of losses, such as medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. However, there are exceptions to this, such as when the victim was trespassing or the dog was employed by a law enforcement agency and carrying out its duties.
Recovering Damages for a Dog Bite in Washington
Washington State statute RCW 16.08 states in part that:
“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.”
This makes it easier for victims to obtain compensation in Washington compared to other states that adhere to the one-bite rule or negligence doctrine. Unlike the one-bite rule, which states that a dog owner will only be liable if the dog had bitten someone before or had shown signs of aggression, strict liability law does not require victims to prove that the owner was negligent.
To recover damages, you must demonstrate that you were legally on either private or public land at the time of the attack. A defense may be raised that you were trespassing or that you provoked the dog in some way. An experienced dog bite attorney can help you make a successful claim.
Other Dog Laws in Washington
Under Washington State Law (Section 16.10.020), County Commissioners are granted the power to create dog control zones in highly populated areas or districts. These zones can set forth rules on how land is used, as well as requiring pet control measures. This is not the only piece of legislation dealing with dog ownership and control; different cities and counties have their own regulations pertaining to dogs.
In Olympia parks, for example, dogs must be leashed and under the physical control of their owner at all times. If a dog bites someone, the attack must be reported to Thurston County Animal Control at (360) 352-2510 as soon as possible.
Pet owners in Washington must comply with vaccination requirements, dog control zones, and laws regarding dangerous dogs. A dangerous dog is defined as one that has caused severe injury to a human or killed a domestic animal. Owners of such dogs are still allowed to keep them, but they must observe the laws of containment and control. This includes the use of muzzles and restraints when the dog is outside of its enclosure. Local authorities have the authority to impose further regulations on dangerous dogs.
How Much Can You Sue for a Dog Bite?
A dog bite claim should account for all of the losses a victim suffers due to the injury. A victim may be entitled to recover the following damages:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as prescription medications, travel to and from medical appointments, home-based services, etc.
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Individuals who sue for a dog bite must have evidence to support their claims. An experienced attorney can assess the evidence in your case and seek the compensation you and your family deserve.
If you were injured by someone’s pet, a Washington dog bite lawyer at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC may be able to help. We have a proven record of success in helping injury victims obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
To discuss your case for FREE, contact our office today online or at (800) 570-4878. We proudly serve Olympia, Tacoma, Shelton, Centralia, Aberdeen, and other areas of the state.