No dog owner wants to believe that their beloved dog can bite. But the harsh reality is that even the friendliest dogs can bite, depending on the circumstances.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are nearly five million dog bites annually in the United States. Of those dog bites, over 800,000 require medical attention.
Dogs are primarily territorial in nature and protective of their owners and their owner’s property. Defending its territory sometimes means attacking and possibly biting.
Astonishingly, individuals are more likely to get bitten by dogs they are familiar with than by street dogs. You can be bitten by a dog when you least expect it, and there probably isn’t much you can do to thwart it.
Even if the dog bite is innocuous, it can lead to severe infections such as Capnocytophaga, sepsis, tetanus, rabies, or even death.
When owners are neglectful or careless, their dogs can become aggressive and attack people.
Dog Bite Laws In Washington
Washington State law always holds dog owners accountable for their dog’s actions. The owner must pay for the victim’s damages when a dog bites someone.
Washington State law imposes strict liability on the owner of any dog that bites a person, regardless of any prior knowledge of viciousness or negligence on the owner’s part.
Washington’s dog bite statute allows victims to seek total and fair compensation.
Strict Liability In Washington Dog Bite Cases
Washington’s civil dog bite law operates under “strict liability,” meaning that an injured victim of a dog bite can take legal action whether or not the owner used reasonable care to prevent the dog from injuring others. A dog owner that bites or injures someone in Washington cannot escape responsibility by claiming they had no idea the dog would cause injuries.
Negligence-based dog bite laws require the injured person to prove the owner failed to act with reasonable care. Strict liability-based rules, on the other hand, do not.
The law protects any person who got bitten in public places or lawfully on private property.
Trespassers cannot sue the dog owner for their dog bite damages.
Laws On Dogs In Seattle
All dogs in Seattle are required to be licensed. Dogs are required to be on leash within the City of Seattle. Animals may only run loose in Seattle for designated off-leash areas.
The Seattle City Council has passed a new dog bite ordinance that widens the definition of a “dangerous animal.” Earlier, a “dangerous animal” was considered one which caused a “severe injury.” A “severe injury” was defined as death, multiple broken bones, or multiple disfiguring lacerations. These may have required numerous stitches or even cosmetic surgery. The new definition requires only one broken bone or disfiguring wound requiring medical attention such as sutures or staples. The expanded report also includes permanent nerve damage.
Does Washington State Have Damage Caps?
Dog bite victims should be given as much compensation as needed to recover from their injuries and feel like justice was served. The dog bite victim’s attorney can argue for any amount that reasonably reflects what their client has been through.
Damages can be paid to a victim in a dog bite personal injury case in Seattle, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, wage loss, etc.
There are no caps on economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury case in Washington. This means that the entire value of a case can be recovered.
While economic and non-economic damages have no cap, punitive damages do.
Dog Bite Psychological Trauma
Being attacked by a dog often results in a multitude of physical complications, which may include everything from scarrings and bleeding to broken bones. What’s often overlooked, though, is the spectrum of psychological issues that a victim may develop after a dog attack.
Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience. Such trauma can severely damage one’s mental health and sense of security around other dogs. Such individuals are at risk of developing PTSD, cynophobia, agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns.
Children are at serious risk of emotional trauma after a bite.
Unpleasant interactions with a dog can make a child a target of playground teasing and bullying.
Shame and embarrassment from the scarring and damage from a dog bite often impact children and adult dog bite victims.
Facially damaged dog bite victims may become introverted, withdrawn, and self-conscious.
Pacific West Injury Law – Our Lawyers Know How To Balance Justice and Relationships To Secure Compensation For Seattle Dog Bite Victims
Most individuals have the wrong notion that personal injury lawyers can only help people injured in devastating car accidents or truck crashes. If your friend’s dog bites you at a party, you have the same rights as a pedestrian injured by an intoxicated driver in a hit-and-run accident.
Washington personal injury laws apply to all situations in which one person’s negligence directly led to another person’s injuries and financial losses. Dog bites are a once-in-a-lifetime event. You probably have never thought much about the dog bite laws in Washington. It is very easy to make mistakes that could reduce the amount of money you can collect or even stop you from collecting any money.
The Seattle dog bite lawyers at Pacific West Injury Law thoroughly understand the Washington State and Seattle City Council dog bite laws. Dog bite accidents are almost always the dog owner’s responsibility in Washington, even if the dog is friendly and has never bitten anyone.
In most Seattle dog bite cases, the dog owner and the victim know each other. You may have interacted with the dog numerous times before it bit you. The last thing you want to do is to get into a legal battle with someone close to you. Hiring a dog bite lawyer can prevent damage to your relationship with the dog owner instead of damaging it further. Contacting the dog bite lawyers at our Seattle personal injury law firm does not mean you are pressing criminal charges against the dog owner. It is more like having insurance companies settle up after an auto accident. Our accomplished lawyer can get you enough money just by negotiating with the insurance company.
If you or a loved one are the victims of a dog bite in Seattle, it’s in your best interest to retain a reputable, experienced, and trial-savvy dog bite lawyer in Seattle, WA, as soon as possible.
There is always time to contact a lawyer. However, a dog bitten by a dog should contact a lawyer immediately.
Dog bite victims have just three years from the bite date to file a case in Seattle. If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you may lose valuable time-sensitive information you need to build your case.
At Pacific West Injury Law, we are committed to helping you navigate Washington’s dog bite laws and protecting your rights.
Contact us today for a free consultation.