Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys in Bellingham, WA

No one ever expects to get bit by a dog, but it happens all too often. Dog bites can lead to severe injuries and lifelong fears. Though children are most likely to be bitten, dogs can attack anyone at any age. If you or someone you know was bitten by a dog, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced Bellingham dog bite lawyer. You should not have to be responsible for injuries that were caused by someone else’s inability to control their pet.

Washington Dog Bite Law

Most states adhere to one of two dog bite laws. The “one bite rule” specifies that the owner is not liable if they had no reason to suspect that the dog would bite. The first bite gets a pass. Washington uses the second type of dog bite law, which holds an owner strictly liable for the injuries even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. 

Under Washington State Statute RCW 16.08, dog owners are responsible for damages that are caused by their dogs while on public property or lawfully on private property. 

Defenses to the Washington Dog Bite Law

Despite the general rule of strict liability, there are some situations where the owner of the dog would not be liable for your injuries. These include, 

  • If you were bitten while trespassing on the property where the bite took place;
  • If you were in the process of committing a crime;
  • If you acted in a way to provoke the dog to act aggressively;
  • If there were “dangerous dog” signs posted on the property; or
  • If you were attacked by a police or military dog obeying a lawful command.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be an argument as to whether any of these defenses apply. An experienced Bellingham dog bite attorney can help you evaluate the strength of your case. 

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

The statute of limitations for a dog bite claim in Washington is three years from the date the bite occurred. This is the same timeline for other personal injury claims in the state. If you fail to file your claim within three years, you will likely be barred from filing a lawsuit.

Though three years may seem like a good amount of time, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to prove your case. It is important to contact a Bellingham dog bite lawyer as soon as it is reasonably possible so that you have the best chance of maximum financial recovery. 

How to Prove Your Bellingham Dog Bite Case?

Choosing the right Bellingham dog bite attorney is a big part of securing your case, but there are some other things you can do to simplify the process. If you are bitten by a dog, it will be important to gather evidence proving what happened. 

Here are some things that could help your case:

  • A copy of the police report, 
  • Documentation of all medical treatment, 
  • Witness contact information, 
  • Photos of the wound or injury, 
  • Photos of the surrounding area, and
  • Record of the exact location where the bite occurred.

Your Bellingham dog bite lawyer can help you by conducting an investigation into your case and gathering relevant information. 

How Much Is a Dog Bite Claim Worth?

The exact amount of compensation you are entitled to depends upon your case’s unique circumstances and the severity of your injuries. In most cases, you will be eligible for both economic and non-economic compensation. 

Economic Damage

Economic damage includes the actual expenses associated with your injury. All medical treatments such as doctor visits, medication, surgery, physical therapy, and other costs are eligible. If you missed work because of the injury or can no longer do the same job, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your past and future lost wages. Your Bellingham dog bite lawyer may suggest obtaining testimony from an expert witness regarding your injuries to provide an accurate and professional prognosis. 

Non-Economic Damage

Non-economic damages are related to the bite’s emotional, physical, and mental impact. These are things that you would not have had to experience if the bite had not occurred. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and post-traumatic stress, among others. Post-traumatic stress is common, especially in younger dog bite victims, often leaving them with a life-long fear of dogs.

To put things into perspective, if you had to undergo plastic surgery after having your face mauled, your compensation would be different from if your hand was broken and had to be repaired. Both are serious and painful injuries that are compensable, but the amount of compensation may be different. Your Bellingham dog bite attorney can help determine the value of your case. 

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Many injuries occur to the hand and face, although legs may also be targets, especially if you were running from the dog. It is essential that you are treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Some of the most common dog bite injuries include; 

  • Nerve damage, 
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds, 
  • Broken bones,
  • Infection in tissue or bone, 
  • Concussions or other head trauma,
  • Life-threatening blood loss, 
  • Scarring and disfigurement, and 
  • Dismemberment

Every situation is different. The size and breed of the dog, along with its surroundings, have a lot to do with the type and severity of the injuries sustained. Some of the most severe injuries may lead to temporary or permanent disability. They may require surgery or ongoing treatment. Though severe injuries are never something you would choose, the more the injury impacts your life, the more compensation you are entitled to. 

Choosing a Bellingham Dog Bite Lawyer

The attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner have been achieving record-setting verdicts and settlements for over forty years. We pride ourselves on providing honest, straightforward evaluations of claims before creating a legal strategy. We want you to understand the process and set realistic expectations of timeframes and compensation. We work on a contingency basis, so we do not get paid unless you do. Contact us to schedule a free case consultation.