Have you been bitten by a Dog?
A dog bite victim usually can recover full compensation from the homeowners insurance policy or renters insurance policy of the dog's owner, harborer, or keeper. Injuries to dogs are governed by other legal rules. Here are the questions that will tell you who is legally obligated to pay when the victim is a human:
• Did the dog have the tendency to bite people without legal justification prior to this accident? If so, did the owner of the dog know it?
• Did the person who had control of the dog at the moment of this accident know that the dog had this tendency?
• Did the person who owned or controlled the property where the incident happened know that the dog had this tendency?
• Was there a violation of an animal control law like a leash law or law that says that a dog cannot go on other people's property without their permission? If the answer is yes, then the person who had custody of the dog is liable if the violation caused the accident.
• Did the person who had custody of the dog do something negligent, causing the accident? If the answer is yes, the person is liable. A negligent act or omission is one that was unreasonable under the circumstances. For example, it is negligent to let somebody pet a dog that is upset because it is sick or injured, or because children are running around and screaming.
Liability depends on three more things:
• Having admissible evidence that proves your case.
• Overcoming defenses such as that the victim was trespassing, provoking the dog, ignoring warnings, or acting negligently.
• Following procedural rules like starting a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
Most dogs don’t bite. However, the ones that do often cause serious injuries. Most of the injuries are to the hands, legs, and face. Many victims are vulnerable young children or trusting adults. When dog attacks occur, it is often a vicious surprise.
Dog bites create scars and permanent disfigurement. They also induce emotional trauma in the victims. Some injured persons end up fearing dogs for many years. Washington State law regarding dog bites is helpful to the victims of dog bites.
Six things you should do after getting bit are:
1. Obtain the names and addresses of witnesses, the dog owner, and the people who had custody of the dog when it bit you.
2. Demand that the dog owner give you copies of his dog's rabies vaccination records and his homeowners insurance or renters insurance (meaning the policy booklet and the declarations page showing his name, address, and monetary limits of coverage).
3. Take photographs of the wounds and the area where the bite happened, including any "beware of dog" signs or the lack of signs.
4. See a doctor to document your dog bite incident and obtain treatment. At the hospital, insist on a plastic surgeon for wounds on the face.
5. Go to the agency that does animal control in your jurisdiction and make a report, and then cooperate fully with the investigating officers. The report you made at the hospital usually will not trigger a full investigation by the authorities.
6. Retain an experienced Attorney.