Unfortunately, dog bites and other animal attacks are far more common than you think. Unsuspecting victims can be left with severe injuries and psychological trauma that lasts years. Damages in dog bite cases tend to be high because the injured victim usually requires significant medical treatment. There may be future surgeries required, including scar revision. If a dog attacked you or someone you love in the Washington State metro area, speak with an experienced Washington State dog bite injury lawyer at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC.
Taking quick action after a dog bite injury is crucial to ensure your rights are protected. You need the help of a Washington State dog bite attorney with the skills and experience necessary to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Washington Dog Bite Laws
Fortunately, dog bite laws in Washington are favorable to injured victims. There is normally no level of scienter (which means intent) that you need to prove to hold the owner of a biting dog liable. Dog owners are strictly liable when their dog bites someone. This means that if the dog bites you, the owner is liable, even if they were not negligent. There are only minimal circumstances where they are not held legally responsible.
As a victim, you do not need to prove the dog is vicious, is a recognized dangerous breed, or has previously bitten anyone else. There is no need to prove the dog was outside of a fence, off a leash, or has shown a propensity toward aggression or violence in the past. This rule differs from some other jurisdictions where victims are expected to prove the dog was vicious.
Proving an Owner’s Civil Liability for a Dog Bite
You only need to prove that you were lawfully on public land or a private place when the attack took place. You must also show that the defendant is the dog’s owner or was the one in control of the dog at the time of the attack. However, defendants have some possible defenses in some circumstances. If you openly provoked the dog, were trespassing on the dog owner’s property at the time, or were committing a criminal act, you may not be entitled to any compensation for your injuries.
Local Animal Control Laws
Other laws may apply in your case, as Washington law allows county commissioners to enact dog control zones. For example, Seattle has leash laws, and owners are not allowed to let their dogs run free except in designated off-leash zones. Washington municipal governments can also have dangerous breed laws, but not outright bans. A dog that falls under one of these established breeds must adhere to the applicable laws unless it qualifies for an exemption. These laws can require that the dog have a restraint chain and muzzle outside of a proper enclosure.
Recovering Compensation in a Washington Dog Bite Attack
Although Washington law favors accident victims, it doesn’t mean collecting compensation for your claim is easy. Even if the dog owner’s homeowner’s policy provides coverage for the incident, they will likely offer you an amount that is far less than your case is worth. You should never agree to a settlement amount or sign a release of all claims without first speaking with an experienced Washington State dog bite lawyer. Your Washington dog bite attorney will negotiate on your behalf to seek a much higher settlement than you would obtain by handling the case independently.
If the insurance company denies liability for your claim, you may need to file a lawsuit. It may be necessary to take your case all the way to trial in some instances. It’s crucial to have a skilled litigator representing you. When you retain the Washington State dog bite attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, you have a legal team with over 40 years of combined experience working on your case.
We know the best way to build a strong case for trial and how to prove your direct and indirect expenses related to a dog bite injury. We also understand the physical and psychological trauma that you are experiencing.
Possible Types of Recoverable Damages in a Dog Bite Case
You deserve to be compensated for your injuries as well as the future treatment you may need. Potential compensation that you may be eligible to receive in a dog bite case include:
- Medical expenses to date, including initial emergency room treatment, hospitalizations, etc.;
- Vaccines needed to prevent any animal-related diseases;
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation;
- Lost wages and future loss of earnings;
- Costs to see out-of-network providers, such as a cosmetic surgeon;
- Future treatment, including cosmetic surgery to minimize scarring or repair damage;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Disfigurement or disability; and
- Loss of consortium.
Damages in a dog bite case can be extremely high in some instances. Infections and residual scarring are common with dog bites, which means you may need future treatment. Despite what the defendant’s insurance company might lead you to believe, you are entitled to reimbursement for future medical treatment, such as scar revision surgery. Those victims who are left with permanent damage and scarring would have the right to ask for higher pain and suffering compensation as well.
The type of damages you’re eligible to receive will depend on the specifics of your case. Our attorneys have extensive personal injury experience to accurately assess the value of your case. When you meet with our firm, we will review your case and let you know what types of damages you would be eligible to pursue.
Work with Our Washington State Dog Bite Lawyers
The aftermath of a dog bite attack can be frustrating and terrifying. You may feel overwhelmed and even depressed. You don’t have to go through this alone. Let the skilled team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC assist you. We can help you every step of the claims process and fight tirelessly for the compensation you are owed.
Understandably, hiring a legal practitioner might not be your first thought after a dog bite. However, the sooner you retain a Washington State dog bite attorney, the sooner we can start building a strong case and preserving all evidence.
As with other types of personal injury claims, there is a legal deadline on how long you have to file a lawsuit for a dog bite. In Washington, you typically have three years from the date of the attack. That may seem like a long time, but it’s not when you undergo treatments and scar revision surgeries. Failure to file a lawsuit timely means the court will likely dismiss your case, and you will be barred from any recovery.
Contact Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC
If you or someone you love suffered a dog bite, don’t wait to call us at 206-488-1611. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting. We offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with our lawyers. Let us put our 40+ years of combined litigation experience to work for you and help you fight for the compensation you are owed after a Washington dog bite.
What happens after a dog bite is reported?
If you plan to call Animal Control about a dog bite, prepare to give information about the location and time of the attack, the dog’s characteristics (including breed), the witnesses, and the circumstances of the attack. After you make your report, Animal Control might collect statements from those involved or witnesses, confirm information about the dog, and quarantine the dog. Animal control might also issue citations or file charges against the owner.
How much does a dog bite lawsuit cost?
The cost of a dog bite lawsuit depends on the attorney you hire and your financial circumstances. You might have to pay a court around $100 to file your lawsuit. But there’s good news. If you hire a Washington State dog bite attorney from Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner you don’t have to pay us up front for representation. We receive payment when you receive payment.
What is the average settlement for a dog bite lawsuit in WA?
The NW Insurance Council reports that in 2019, Washington saw $16 million in liability insurance claims for dog bite-related injuries. But knowing an average of the settlement amounts from this total isn’t as helpful as you think. The amount of damages you can receive in a dog bite lawsuit is unique to your circumstances. Your damages depend on your wages, the extent of your injuries, life changes, etc. Sharing the details of your circumstances with a Washington State dog bite lawyer can give you a better idea of what your case is worth than an average.
Can I file a lawsuit if another dog bites or attacks my dog?
Yes. Washington law holds dog owners civilly liable if their dog bites an animal owned by another person.
Does insurance pay for dog bites?
Yes. In many cases, insurance policies pay for injuries caused by dog bites. In fact, a dangerous dog owner must have insurance that can pay at least $250,000 to an injured individual.
What happens if a dog bite owner doesn’t have insurance?
You can sue the owner personally, but it might be harder to collect what you deserve from them. You can also sue other individuals involved with the dog. Owners, keepers, and harborers of the dog that bit you can be liable for your damages. A dog harborer is someone who protects and controls a dog. When you start a dog bite lawsuit, you want to make sure you include all possible defendants in your case to increase your chances of recovering all of your damages. A skilled lawyer can determine who all of the appropriate defendants are.
Does a “Beware of Dog” sign protect you legally?
A “Beware of Dog” sign can protect owners of potentially dangerous dogs from criminal liability, depending on other conditions. Generally, owners of potentially dangerous dogs are criminally liable for severe injuries or deaths of human victims. A dog owner can escape liability if they can prove that the victim was provoking the dog or trespassing. They also need to prove that the owner’s property had sufficient enclosure fencing and signs that warned about trespassing and the dog.
If I report a dog bite in Washington, will the dog be put down?
If you report a dog that is dangerous or potentially dangerous, there’s a good chance it will be humanely euthanized.
Is Washington a “one free bite” state?
No. Owners, keepers, and harborers of dogs that bite people and animals are strictly liable for the damages.
What is the law when a dog bites a child in Washington state?
The dog bite law is the same for victims who are adults and victims who are children.
Should you call the police if a dog bites you?
You should call 911 for medical and other emergencies surrounding dog bites. However, you can handle many dog bite incidents or threatening encounters through the owner’s insurance, Animal Control, or both.
Do I need a tetanus or rabies shot after a dog bite?
A tetanus shot and rabies shot may be necessary. After a dog bite, Seattle & King County Public Health advises that the dog be in quarantine for 10 days. If the dog becomes sick or dies within 10 days, it needs to be tested for rabies. If the dog tests positive, those bitten should receive preventive care.
Can I recover damages if a dog injured me but didn’t bite?
Under Washington law, strict civil liability for dog attacks only applies to bites.
How do you prove a dog bite?
You have many options for proving a dog bite. You can use witnesses, bills, pictures, animal control reports, receipts, and medical reports. This is not an exhaustive list of the ways you can prove your dog bite injuries, but it’s a starting point.
I reached over to pet a dog and it bit me. Am I still entitled to damages?
You normally have a right to damages unless you were trespassing or unjustifiably provoking the dog when petting it.
Our experienced legal team also handles other types of cases, including: