Vancouver Dog Bite Lawyer Loren Etengoff Can Help You Obtain Compensation for Your Injuries
In most cases, dog bites are minor and require little or no medical attention. However, many of them result in serious injuries with permanent scarring, with some even resulting in death. When this happens and serious financial repercussions occur (such as medical bills) the owner may be liable for these medical bills. If you sustained injuries in a dog bite incident, Vancouver dog bite lawyers at the The Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff can help you obtain compensation for your losses.
Even Minor Dog Bites Can Be Serious
It is important to understand that even a minor bite has the potential to be serious. For instance, a skin puncture raises the potential of a rabies infection if the dog was not properly vaccinated. Also, most bite victims are young children. This is due to their relatively small stature which makes their face particularly vulnerable to a dog’s bite.
Common Dog Bite and Attack Injuries
Dog bites and attacks can result in devastating injuries. They often require significant medical treatment and time off work. Dog bites often require hospitalizations and ongoing medical treatment. Common injuries caused by a dog include the following:
- Tooth puncture wounds
- Cuts and lacerations from teeth and claws
- Broken bones
- Head injuries from a fall
- Poly trauma
- Scarring, especially on the face
Your Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer can contact your medical provider and request your medical records to determine the extent of your injuries. This information will also be used to obtain compensation to cover your losses.
Washington Is a Strict Liability State
Washington is a strict liability state unlike many states that have a one-bite rule. This means that an owner of a dog is liable for the damages caused by the dog’s first bite, even if the owner had no reason to know or suspect the dog may bite someone. The term “owner” includes not only the dog’s legal owner but also a “harborer” or “keeper” of a dog.
Anyone who was responsible for the dog when it bit can be liable for injuries and losses that occur as a result of that bite. That may include a trainer, doggie daycare attendant, neighbor, or friend of the owner. In some cases, more than one person may be liable. Consult a Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer to determine who is responsible for your injuries.
Possible Defenses to Dog Bite Liability
Although the standard is strict liability, there are two defenses the defendant can raise:
- The dog bite was the result of provocation; this is a complete defense.
- The person bitten was a trespasser; for strict liability to stand, the law requires the bitten person to be on public property or lawfully on private property.
However, there are some exceptions to these defenses. If the victim was a child or someone who was not aware of the consequences of their actions, and the owner had reason to know that a child or someone else might visit, then the owner may still be liable. A Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer can evaluate your situation and determine if the person responsible for the dog is also legally liable.
Liability does not fall on the landlord for damages caused by their tenant’s dog bite despite knowing of the propensity of the dog to bite. This is primarily because the landlord is not responsible for the dog. If the tenant was in actual control of the dog, then they would be responsible for its actions. A Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer can help you understand who was responsible for your injuries.
Injuries Other Than Dog Bites
Washington’s dog bite statute applies only to damages sustained by a bite. If, for example, a dog runs into an individual and knocks that person down causing physical harm, the owner of the dog may be liable, but not under a strict liability theory. In such a case, the injured plaintiff would need to prove the owner was negligent in not controlling the dog.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Dog Bite Claim?
Negligence is shown by proving that the dog owner or controller took action or failed to take action that a reasonably responsible person would have in the same situation. The owner of the dog has a duty to act responsibly with their pet. If they tell the dog to attack, even in a joking manner, and the dog bites an individual, then they will be responsible for those injuries.
In order to prove negligence, you must prove that:
- The dog owner or controller had a duty to act reasonably;
- The dog owner or controller breached that duty;
- Breach of that duty resulted in your injuries; and
- You suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
1. Duty of Care
In order to determine if the dog owner or controller had a duty, you must consider the circumstances of the situation. For example, if you were on public property, then the owner would have a much higher degree of duty to the people around them than if they were on their own private property. When on public property or when invited onto private property, you have a right to expect a reasonable amount of safety. The dog owner has a duty to maintain that safety where their dog is concerned.
2. Breach of Duty
A dog owner or controller may breach that duty by acting or failing to act reasonably. If a dog owner tells their dog to attack, then they have acted irresponsibly and breached their duty to provide for your safety. If they fail to tell their dog to calm down while it gets overly excited, they may also be breaching their duty.
3. Cause of Injuries
You must show that the dog bite or attack actually caused your injuries. If you have preexisting conditions that were not impacted by the dog, then you will not likely get those expenses paid. However, if an old injury is exacerbated by a dog attack, then the dog owner may be held responsible.
You must also show that you suffered damages. This may be done through medical bills, wage forms, or records showing pain and suffering. Your Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer can help you collect evidence that displays your damages due to the dog bite or attack.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
There is a statute of limitations that applies to dog bite lawsuits and all other personal injury lawsuits in Washington. A statute of limitations is a time period within which you must file a lawsuit; otherwise, you forfeit your claim. According to Washington law, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. That time limit has exceptions, such as if a government entity is responsible or where the victim is a child. Your Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer can help you understand the time limit that may apply to your case.
Contact Vancouver Dog Bite Lawyers for Legal Advice
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, let the Vancouver dog bite lawyers at the The Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff handle your case so you can focus on recovering. Contact us today.