dog bite attorney

Dog bites can happen without warning. They can also result in severe injuries for children and the elderly. Knowing the steps to take after a dog bite is essential for reducing the risk of complications and for ensuring the rights of victims are protected.

The Washington dog bite attorneys at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC, have been helping the wrongfully injured in Olympia, Tacoma, and surrounding areas since 1972. We know the physical, financial, and emotional strains a dog attack can place on victims and their families. We are committed to helping our clients recover the full and fair compensation to which they may be entitled under the law.

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, it’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side. Call Fuller & Fuller today at 800-570-4878 to schedule a FREE consultation and let us help you determine the best way to seek the compensation you are due.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite incidents can lead to a wide range of injuries. Some of the most common include:

  • Lacerations and Deep Puncture Wounds. These visible injuries can be traumatic and painful. They can also result in immediate and long-term physical consequences.
  • Infections: Rabies, tetanus, and sepsis can develop from bacteria in a dog’s saliva. This can introduce the risk of severe health complications or even life-threatening conditions without prompt treatment. Even seemingly minor dog bites can be a high risk for infection, so it is always best to be evaluated by your doctor to see if you need antibiotics.
  • Nerve Damage: Particularly concerning when bites affect hands, face, or other sensitive areas, nerve damage can result in loss of sensation, impaired motor function, and chronic pain.
  • Scars and Disfigurement: Some dog attacks can cause scars or disfigurement, leading to the need for reconstructive surgery. This may result in long-term psychological trauma, affect self-esteem, and create discomfort in social situations.

Children are especially susceptible to the devastating effects of dog bites. Their limited ability to defend themselves and escape from an attacking dog increases their risk of suffering more serious or life-threatening injuries. The physical and emotional scars left by these incidents can be profound, necessitating medical and psychological care for months or even years.

At Fuller & Fuller, we understand the extensive medical care and rehabilitation services dog bite injuries often require. We are committed to fighting for fair compensation that covers all aspects of recovery, including long-term psychological and counseling services. Our approach is grounded in compassion for victims—a direct reflection of our firm’s legacy of excellence in personal injury law and our commitment to treating every client like family. If you need help, reach out today to learn more.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

After a dog attack, the first priority is to get away from the animal. Once you or your loved one is safe, assess the injury to determine if emergency services are needed. Call 911 if the injuries are severe or life-threatening.

If the injury does not necessitate emergency intervention:

1. Control the Bleeding

Depending on the extent of damage caused by the dog bite, you may experience severe bleeding. Using a cloth or towel, apply pressure to the wound. If you are unable to control the bleeding, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

2. Clean the Wound

Left untreated, the bacteria in a dog’s mouth can cause the bite wound to become infected. Run warm tap water over the wound for five to 10 minutes. Use mild soap to thoroughly clean and disinfect the injury and the area around it. If in doubt about how to clean the wound, consult with your doctor.

If the wound is ragged, large, or deep within the skin, seek medical attention promptly. Severe bite injuries are more difficult to treat and require the knowledge and skill of a medical professional.

3. Dress the Wound

If you are able to control the bleeding caused by the canine attack and the wound has been thoroughly cleaned and sterilized with an antibiotic ointment, dress the wound with gauze or a bandage. Keep in mind that severe injuries may require stitches and treatment from a medical professional.

4. See a Doctor

Even if you treat your dog bite injury at home, it is a good idea to seek medical attention. Your injuries could be more serious than just bite marks. It is especially important to seek medical attention if you have not had a tetanus shot in the last five years. Dogs can have several different types of bacteria in their mouths that can make you extremely sick when passed into your bloodstream.

5. Document and Report Your Injury

In addition to making sure you are safe from infection and further bodily harm, you need to ensure that your legal rights are protected. When it is safe to do so, you should:

  • Speak to the dog’s owner: Obtain the name and contact information of the dog’s owner, the policy number and name of their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company, as well as any information about the dog’s vaccination history.
  • Talk to witnesses: Testimony from witnesses can strengthen your dog bite case. If anyone saw the attack, obtain their names and contact information.
  • Photograph the injuries: Whether you photograph the wounds yourself or have someone take pictures for you, it is important to capture photographic evidence of the harm suffered from the canine attack.
  • Inform Animal Services:  Report the dog bite to animal control. Not only will this establish a record of your attack, but it can also help to keep your neighborhood and community safer. Most counties and municipalities have animal service offices. In some rural areas, the county sheriff handles dog bite investigations.

6. Discuss Your Case with a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer

According to Washington state statute RCW 16.08, owners are typically required to compensate any individual bitten by their dog. Notably, the statute applies regardless of whether the dog has shown aggressive tendencies in the past. However, it is still a good idea to have a dog bite lawyer on your side.

Your attorney will investigate the facts in your case, gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and take your case to court if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Even with state statutes on your side, having a lawyer assist you in navigating the complexities of personal injury law can help improve your chances of securing full compensation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in Washington?

You typically have three years from the date of the dog bite to file a personal injury claim in Washington. There are some exceptions to this rule, including extensions for minors. Still, under most circumstances, you will need to act within three years to preserve your right to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and similar damages.

While three years might seem like ample time, the process of preparing a comprehensive dog bite claim can be complicated and time-consuming. Starting the process quickly gives your attorney sufficient time to build a strong case on your behalf. In addition, evidence tends to be more readily available and reliable shortly after an attack; witness recollections may be more precise, and physical evidence—such as photos of the injuries and the scene—might be more accessible.

How Fuller & Fuller Can Help

For over 50 years, Fuller & Fuller has fought for the rights of children and adults who have been attacked by dogs. Our commitment to treating clients like family has made us a trusted name in personal injury law in Olympia, Tacoma, and throughout Washington.

From your FREE initial consultation through the resolution of your case, our firm, led by experienced attorney Marya Fuller, will stand by your side, protect your best interests, and fight for the compensation you deserve. We handle dog bite claims on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay for our services after a settlement or verdict is returned in your favor. Dedicated, thoughtful, and effective, we are here to listen, provide straightforward advice, and help you determine the best way to seek justice following any type of serious injury.

Contact Our Washington Dog Bite Attorney For a FREE Case Review

If you or someone you love is suffering the consequences of a dog bite, contact Fuller & Fuller online or call us right away to schedule your FREE case review at our Olympia or Tacoma office. We welcome clients from Lakewood, Puyallup, Federal Way, Gig Harbor, Lacey, and all surrounding areas of Washington.

by Fuller & Fuller Attorneys at Law
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Personal Injury