As a rule, if you or your child has been bitten by a dog, the owner's renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance should pay for the resulting injuries. However, actually recovering those damages can be difficult. The insurance company may argue that the attack was provoked or try to downplay the extent of the injury.
The laws surrounding dog bites can be complex, and you need the right attorney to guide you through the process. At Richard E. Lewis, P.S., we've made dog bite law a cornerstone of our practice. We'll explore every potential avenue of compensation and build you a strong case.
Get started today. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with attorney Lewis. Call 866-465-9098.
Dog Bite Injuries
As a general rule, the larger the dog, the more dangerous the bite. Big dogs have powerful jaws that can break bones and cut deep into tissue. However, even bites from smaller dogs can sever tendons and cause other significant injuries. The likelihood of infection is high, and the ragged edges can lead to significant scarring or even require skin grafts.
Children are particularly likely to be victims of dog attacks, and the injuries may heal improperly, leading to long-term medical issues. Beyond those physical injuries, a dog attack is an intensely traumatic experience, which can require long-term therapy and treatment.
Because of the types of injuries sustained during dog attacks, it's particularly important to fight for compensation in a personal injury case. Often, the funds recovered in a lawsuit can be used to pay for reconstructive surgery that minimizes the scarring and long-term damage caused by the dog bite.
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Liability for Dog Bites
Washington is a strict liability state for dog attacks. That means the owner of the dog is automatically liable for injuries inflicted by the animal. It is not necessary to prove negligence on the part of the owner.
In addition, someone other than the owner who keeps or harbors the dog can be held liable for a bite if he or she had reason to know of the dog's dangerous propensity. This is commonly known as the "one bite rule" - if the dog has bitten before, the person who keeps or harbors the dog should know that it may bite again. However, the term "one bite rule" is a bit of a misnomer as it does not require an actual prior bite; any history of aggression on the animal's part is sufficient. Again, this rule only applies to persons other than the dog owner, who is strictly liable regardless of whether the dog has bitten before.
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What to Do if Bitten
Safety should be your top priority after a dog attack. Afterward, you need to focus on preparing to handle the legal case arising from the bite. Here are some steps to take:
- Identify the dog that bit you. This may seem obvious, but it's actually commonly overlooked.
- If possible, take a picture of the attacking dog – but only if doing so doesn't put you at risk of being bitten again. Take a picture of any visible injuries as well as the location of the attack, again if it is safe to do so.
- Get the names and addresses of the dog owner, the person who had custody of the dog at the time of the attack, and any witnesses.
- See your doctor as soon as possible to document your injuries and to get the treatment you need.
- File a report with animal control in your jurisdiction. In Spokane, that is the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS). Comply with their instructions.
Contact us as soon as possible after a dog attack. We need to start working on your case quickly, before witnesses' memories fade and evidence disappears. The sooner you seek legal help, the easier it will be to get compensation for the bite.
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