Dog bites are among the most frightening types of injuries many people can suffer. Such attacks are very up close and personal, and often horrifically fulfill the fear or wariness of dogs that many have had since childhood.
Money Damages Available
If you’ve suffered a dog bite, you need to exercise your legal rights to compensation from the dog owner. The dog owner is responsible to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, scarring, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
If you want to receive money compensation for your dog bite, you will have to make a claim with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance or renters insurance policy. The money exists in these insurance policies to compensate people who have been wrongfully injured. However, do not expect compensation to come easy. Insurance companies will fight long and hard to prevent paying out on a claim. You may even have to file a lawsuit in court to receive compensation.
A strategy the insurance company will use against you is the “Provocation Defense,” which is a complete defense to liability if they demonstrate that you provoked the dog prior to the attack. The word “provoke” is a vague term. It can mean any number of things. Expect the insurance company and their lawyers to twist the facts against you and allege that it was your fault. They will argue that your actions somehow “provoked” the dog to bite you. But these defenses are often bogus and you must be prepared to fight.
Dog Owner Liability in Washington
In Washington State, dog owners are responsible for the injuries and damages their dog causes. The legal standard is called strict liability, which means that the dog owner does have to be negligent to be responsible. For example, it does not matter if the dog owner tied up their dog and their dog chewed through the leash or somehow got loose. The law does not care about the precaution the dog owner took.
Thus, the person who suffered the dog bite need only prove that the dog bite occurred. Here is the text of the actual law: RCW 16.08.040
(1) The dog bites any person;
(2) While the person is in a public place, or lawfully in a private place – including on the property of the owner;
(3) Regardless of whether or not the dog had previously demonstrated viciousness; and,
(4) Regardless of whether or not the owner was aware previously of the dog having vicious propensities.
As you can see, dogs do not get a get out of jail free card. You do not have to show that the owner knew of the dog’s viciousness. Again, you only have to show that you suffered a dog bite.
The most important step you can to take to have your injuries and medical treatment paid for after a dog bite is to talk with a personal injury lawyer. Banks Law Office always offers a free case evaluation and there is no fee unless we win your case. You never have to pay us up front out of your own pocket and we front all of the costs of your case. Contact us now to learn about your legal rights if you’ve suffered a dog bite.
Here is the text of Washington Laws relating to liability for animal bites:
In Washington, dog bite/attack liability is governed by statute, and specifically RCW 16.08.010 – 16.08.100.
RCW 16.08.010- Owner Liable for Injuries (and Costs thereof) Inflicted on Other Dogs by Owner’s Dog: Pursuant to this statute, the owner/keeper of
any dog is liable to the owner of any animal killed or injured by such dog for the amount of damages sustained and costs of collection.
RCW 16.08.020 – Lawful to Kill Dog Attacking or Killing Other Domestic Animals: This statute makes it lawful for a person who sees a dog chasing,
biting, injuring or killing any sheep, swine or domestic animal, including poultry (the “poultry inclusion” clause!), that belongs to them on their
property or on any public way to kill the attacking dog.
RCW 16.08.030 – Marauding Dogs: This statute requires (“shall”) that the owner of a marauding dog found killing any domestic animal kills such dog(s)
within 48 hours of being notified. Failure to comply with the statute will make the dog owner guilty of a misdemeanor. This statute also makes it the
duty of the sheriff to kill any marauding dog found at large without an identification tag.
RCW 16.08.040 – Strict Liability for Most Dog Bites: This is the general dog bite liability statute. This statute imposes strict liability upon owners of
(a) bite any person;
(b) 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 the dog;
(c) regardless of the former viciousness of the dog; and,
(d) regardless of the owner’s knowledge of prior viciousness.
RCW 16.08.050 – “Lawfully” Defined: This section defines when a person is “lawfully” upon private property of the dog owner for purposes of applying
the strict liability standard of RCW 16.080.40. A person is generally lawfully on the dog owner’s premises when upon the property based upon the implied
or express consent of the owner, provided that such consent will not be presumed when the property of the owner is fenced or reasonably posted.
RCW 16.08.060 – “Provocation” Defense: This statute provides the only defense to a dog bite/attack falling under the statutes – PROVOCATION –
stating that “Proof of provocation of the attack by the injured person shall be a complete defense to an action for damages.”
RCW 16.08.070 – .100: These statutory sections deal with the definition of a “dangerous dog” or “potentially dangerous dog” and the process by which a
dog may be properly declared to be “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous.” RCW 16.08.100 details the right of animal control authorities to confiscate a
dangerous dog, and .080 and .090 the registration, liability insurance/bond and restraint requirements imposed once a dog has been declared “dangerous.”