Serving Dog Bite Injury Victims in Olympia, Tacoma & Nearby Areas of Washington
Most people think of dogs as lovable pets. However, for those who have been bitten or attacked by a dog, the trauma of the experience can be life-altering. This is especially true for young children, who are particularly susceptible to dog bite injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite or other injury from a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim. It is important to speak to a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to understand your legal rights and options.
Fuller & Fuller has been serving clients since 1972. Our dog bite lawyer recognizes the challenges victims can face, and Fuller & Fuller is committed to pursuing fair compensation on their behalf.
Please call (800) 570-4878 today. Dog bite lawyer Marya Fuller serves clients in Olympia, Tacoma, and other areas of Washington.
Should I Get a Lawyer for My Injury?
You should seek legal counsel in any situation where you suffer injury through no fault of your own. A dog bite claim is no exception.
There are several reasons to speak to a Washington dog bite attorney about your case:
- Identifying the dog’s owner: Many dog bites and dog attacks occur on the property where the dog lives with its owner. However, in other instances the dog may get loose and attack someone in public. In either case, investigation by a lawyer can identify the owner of the dog (which is crucial for assessing fault).
- Understanding the seriousness of your dog bite injury: The physical harm of a dog bite (which can be significant) is just one factor in how the injury impacts your life. Often the adverse mental and emotional effects of the injury can be just as damaging, if not more so. Your lawyer can review your medical records, speak to your doctors, and hire medical experts to assess the severity of your injuries and the current and long-term medical issues/costs you might face.
- Calculating damages in your claim: You may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages you suffer as a result of the dog bite. An experienced attorney can pursue a claim against the owner on your behalf.
Who Is Liable for Dog Bites?
Dog owners are responsible for preventing injury to others that their dog may cause. The majority of dog owners take this responsibility seriously. They keep their dogs on leashes, keep the animals indoors or build fences that enclose their property, and post signs warning visitors and passersby about the dog.
However, even the most cautious dog owner may fail to prevent their dog from attacking someone.
Types of Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can result in a host of serious injuries. You or your loved one may suffer the following injuries in a dog attack:
- Puncture wounds
- Bone fractures
- Soft tissue injuries
- Nerve damage
- Scarring to the face, head, and neck
Psychological injury is another common outcome after a dog bite. Victims may develop a fear of dogs and experience issues such as anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Infection is another potentially serious complication of a dog bite injury. Dogs carry a number of kinds of harmful bacteria in their mouths. When these bacteria enter the body through an open wound, a serious infection may occur.
Bite injuries are not the only possible harm that may occur in a dog attack. Owners can also be held liable for injuries that occur when a dog jumps on or charges into another person. For example, if an aggressive dog knocks you down and you suffer a brain injury from hitting your head on the ground, you may have a claim for compensation.
Does Washington Have a Specific Dog Bite Law?
Washington state statue RCW 16.08 controls owner liability for dangerous dogs. Under this statute, dog owners must generally pay damages to the person bitten while on public property or lawfully on private property. Historically, it does not matter if the dog previously displayed aggressive behavior. The law specifically states 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.”
What is the Timeline for Filing a Claim?
There is a statute of limitations that applies to filing a dog bite claim in the state of Washington. Dog bite claims follow a similar timeline to that of any other personal injury claim. This means that someone who files a lawsuit that is seeking damages for a dog bite injury must file within three years from the date of the injury.
What to Do After a Dog Bite Injury
The most important step to take after being bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention. If you are seriously injured by a dog, you should go to the emergency room immediately or call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive.
In addition, there are a few steps you can take to protect your legal rights:
- Get the name and contact information for the dog’s owner. If the owner of the dog is present on the scene, take the time to get his or her name, address, and phone number.
- Take pictures of your injuries. It is important to document the injury or injuries you have sustained. Although your medical records will provide a comprehensive document of the harm you have suffered, pictures you take with a camera or your smartphone can vividly demonstrate the extent of trauma from the attack.
- Speak to witnesses. If anyone else saw the dog bite you, get their name and contact information as well. As with any injury or accident claim, witness testimony can be crucial for establishing the facts of the case and supporting your right to compensation.
- Take notes. Shortly after being bitten by a dog, you should make note of any and all important details such as the location, the date, and the approximate time of the attack. In addition, write down what you remember about the dog’s appearance, in the event that you need to identify the animal that attacked you.
- How you can help your lawyer. Medical bills, explanation of benefits statements, receipts, and other kinds of paperwork tend to pile up quickly after a serious injury. Each of these documents helps to demonstrate the losses you have incurred as a result of the dog bite. Therefore, it is crucially important to organize any bills, statements, etc. as you receive them. Bring these files with you to the initial consultation with a dog bite attorney, and share any new paperwork you receive with your lawyer as the case progresses.
It is also important to speak to a Washington dog bite attorney as soon as possible after the attack. Hiring an experienced lawyer will enable you to focus on recovery from your injuries, rather than trying to build a case on your own.
How Much Can You Sue for a Dog Bite?
Your dog bite claim should account for all of the losses you have suffered as a result of the injury. You may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as prescription medications, travel to and from medical appointments, home-based services, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The damages in your dog bite injury claim must be supported by the evidence. An experienced lawyer can assess the evidence in your case and seek the compensation you and your family deserve.
How Long Will It Take to Settle My Lawsuit?
First, it is important to know that 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 trial.
Homeowners and renters insurance generally covers the losses from dog bite injuries caused by an insured’s pet. Therefore, you will likely be filing a claim with the insurance company, rather than suing the owner of the dog directly.
The length of time it takes to settle a dog bite claim will depend on a variety of circumstances, including the damages you are seeking and the insurance carrier’s willingness to offer a fair settlement. Having an experienced lawyer represent you in settlement negotiations with the insurance company is advantageous, potentially resulting in a more timely resolution of your claim as well as a more favorable settlement.
However, each case is different. Some dog bite claims may take months to settle, while a case that goes to court can take a year or more to reach its conclusion.
Ultimately, the most important consideration is not how long it may take for a verdict or settlement in your case, but the ongoing guidance and support your lawyer provides. A dog bite attorney should be available to answer your questions, address your concerns, and discuss whether or not a settlement is fair or if it is worth pursuing a more substantial recovery.
Contact Our Washington Dog Bite Attorneys Today
Dog bites can cause serious damage. Not only can they result in severe pain and emotional trauma, but the physical and mental effects of the attack can last for years or even decades.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney. Established in 1972, Fuller & Fuller has been serving injured people for decades. We recognize the toll an animal attack can take, and we are committed to pursuing fair compensation for our clients and their families.
Please call (800) 570-4878 today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable and compassionate member of our team. Dog bite lawyer Marya Fuller serves clients in Olympia, Tacoma, and other areas of Washington.
Does Washington Have a One-Bite Rule?
A one-bite rule means that dog owners are liable for canine attacks if they knew or should have known that their pet may act in a dangerous or harmful way. The law is based on the idea that a dog gets one free bite, and after that, an owner knows the dog’s dangerous propensities and is therefore responsible for any further attacks.
Washington does not adhere to the one-bite rule; it follows the doctrine of strict liability. This means that dog owners are responsible for attack-related injuries that occur while victims were in a place they were legally allowed to be, regardless of what the owners knew or did to prevent the harm.
What Do I Have to Prove in a Washington Dog Bite Case?
Washington’s dog bite statute is favorable to dog bite victims. Generally, under Washington law, dog owners must compensate individuals who are bitten while lawfully on private or public property.
To recover damages for a canine attack in Washington, you must prove:
- You were lawfully on public land or in a private place at the time of the canine attack
- The defendant in question was the owner or person controlling the animal
- You suffered losses as a result of the attack
An experienced Washington dog bite lawyer can help you navigate your claim.
Does it Matter Where the Dog Bite Occurs?
Washington law protects dog bite victims that occur in a variety of locations. Dog owners are liable for dog attacks that occur in public places, such as public parks, in addition to attacks that occur on private property – including the dog owner’s property, if the victim is on the premises lawfully. This can include an invited guest, such as a friend or family member, as well as others who have a lawful purpose to visit the property, such as a mail carrier.
What If the Dog that Bit Me Belonged to a Friend or Family Member?
Because people are most often around the dogs of others they know, most dog bite victims are attacked by the dogs of friends, family members, and neighbors. As a dog bite victim, this could put you in a difficult situation: you have suffered an injury for which you deserve compensation, but you don’t want to strain a relationship over money.
Fortunately, in most cases, you would not be filing suit against your friend, family member, or neighbor. Instead, you would be filing a claim against their insurance company. If the dog owner has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, compensation would most likely be covered by the insurance policy — your friend or family member would not pay out of his or her own pocket. This may make it easier for you to decide to pursue a dog bite claim.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Claim Worth?
Without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, many dog bite victims settle for far less than they deserve for their injuries. An experienced lawyer is familiar with these types of cases and understands what compensation you may be entitled to after a serious attack.
Because every dog attack is different, the total value of claims varies from case to case.
The value of your claim will depend on a variety of factors that include, but are not limited to:
- The severity of your injuries
- Your current and future medical expenses
- The amount of wages lost due to your injuries
- The emotional and psychological impact on your life
The lawyers at Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC can assess the details of your situation and help you determine the value of your claim. We will diligently pursue the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.
How Can a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Help Me?
After a dog attack, the insurance company may try to settle your case quickly, and for less money than you deserve. The insurer’s settlement will likely reflect what is best for the insurance company, not you. Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys PLLC is committed to protecting your rights and best interests. Fuller & Fuller has 50 years of experience representing clients in dog bite cases. When representing our clients in dog bites cases, we:
- Thoroughly investigate the facts involved in the attack
- Gather evidence to support your claim, including medical records, witness accounts, and more
- Determine the financial impact of your injury, both now and in the future
- Negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf
After a serious dog bite, you do not have to accept an unfair settlement. An attorney will build a claim on your behalf and help you obtain the just compensation you deserve.