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Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

When dogs bite or attack, the aftermath can be devastating. Not only do these instances leave injuries and physical scars, but they also take an emotional toll on the victim. This is especially true when the victim is a child.

At the Bernard Law Group, our experienced dog bite injury lawyers understand the impact of dog bites and are here to help victims pursue compensation from the responsible party. In Washington, dog bite injury law focuses on holding dog owners responsible for the actions of their pets.

While it may seem straightforward, several state statutes and case laws come into play when determining liability. We can help you navigate this process and understand if you have the right to hold a dog owner responsible for the injuries caused by their pet.

Understanding Dog Bite Laws in Washington State

In Washington State, dog bite laws are designed to protect individuals who a dog has injured. Important laws to know are explained here.

Overview of Washington State Laws on Dog Bites

Washington operates under a strict liability rule when it comes to dog bites. This means a dog owner is almost always liable if their dog bites someone, regardless of their previous behavior.

This law is outlined in the Revised Code of Washington Section 16.08.040. It states that if a dog bites someone in a public place or lawfully in a private place (including the dog’s owner’s property), the dog’s owner is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten.

This applies even if the dog has never bitten anyone before or shown a tendency to be dangerous.

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Legal Implications for Dog Owners

As a dog owner in Washington State, it’s essential to understand the legal responsibilities of pet ownership. Under the strict liability rule, owners are responsible for most dog bite injuries.

If your dog injures someone, you could be liable for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Dog owners must clearly understand their responsibilities and take necessary precautions to prevent dog bites.

Comparative Negligence and Its Role in Dog Bite Cases

In some cases, the concept of comparative negligence may come into play. This legal principle can impact the amount of compensation a dog bite victim receives.

If it is determined that the victim’s actions contributed to the incident, such as provoking the dog, their compensation might be reduced accordingly. For instance, if a court finds that the victim was 30% responsible for the incident, their compensation would be reduced by 30%.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

At the Bernard Law Group, we have seen many injuries resulting from dog bites. Understanding the types of injuries and their potential impact is crucial for anyone affected by a dog bite incident.

Common Injuries Resulting from Dog Bites

Dog bites can cause various injuries, ranging from minor to severe. Some of the most common injuries we encounter include:

  • Puncture Wounds: These are typically the most immediate and visible injuries from a dog bite. They can vary in depth and severity.
  • Lacerations and Abrasions: Dog bites often result in cuts and scrapes, leading to significant scarring.
  • Infections: Dog mouths carry bacteria, and bites can lead to infections such as tetanus or rabies, requiring immediate medical attention.
  • Broken Bones and Crush Injuries: Larger dogs can exert enough force to break bones, especially in children or the elderly.
  • Nerve Damage: Severe bites can cause lasting nerve damage, reducing sensation or mobility in the affected area.

Long-term Physical and Psychological Effects

The impact of a dog bite goes beyond physical injuries. Long-term effects can include:

  • Physical Scarring and Disfigurement: In severe cases, dog bites can leave lasting scars that might require surgical correction.
  • Psychological Trauma: Many victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and a lifelong fear of dogs.
  • Chronic Pain: Some injuries can result in ongoing pain or discomfort, affecting the quality of life.

Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims

As experts in dog bite law at the Bernard Law Group, we ensure that victims in Washington State are fully aware of their legal rights and protections. Understanding these rights is crucial for pursuing justice and compensation.

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Dog bite victims are protected under strict liability laws. This means that if a dog bites you, the owner is typically liable for your injuries, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior. This legal protection is crucial, as it helps ensure that victims can seek compensation without needing to prove the dog’s history of aggression or the owner’s negligence.

Types of Compensation

Victims of dog bites are entitled to various types of compensation, which may include:

  • Medical Expenses: This covers all medical costs related to the dog bite, including emergency care, surgeries, medications, and any future medical treatments related to the injury.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering includes the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the bite. This can also encompass anxiety, fear, and trauma resulting from the incident.
  • Lost Wages: If the injury results in time away from work, victims can claim compensation for lost income and potential loss of future earning capacity.
  • Property Damage: If personal property, such as clothing or eyeglasses, was damaged during the incident, victims may be compensated for these losses.

Time Limits for Filing a Claim (Statute of Limitations)

It’s important to note that there are time limits for filing a dog bite claim in Washington State. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including dog bites, is generally three years from the date of the incident.

Failing to file within this timeframe can result in losing the right to seek compensation. We advise victims to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure their rights are protected.

The Legal Process for Dog Bite Claims

At the Bernard Law Group, we guide our clients through the legal process of a dog bite claim with expertise and care. Understanding the steps involved is crucial for anyone pursuing a claim.

Steps in a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit

Every dog bite case is unique. However, when you file a lawsuit, it will follow the same basic steps:

  • Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation: The process begins with a consultation where we evaluate the specifics of your case, including the circumstances of the dog bite and the extent of your injuries.
  • Filing the Claim: If you decide to proceed, we will file a claim on your behalf. This involves preparing and submitting the necessary legal documents to start the lawsuit.
  • Discovery Phase: Both sides exchange information and gather evidence during this phase. This can include witness statements, medical records, and other pertinent documentation.
  • Gathering Evidence and Documentation: Evidence is key to building a strong case. This includes:
  • Medical Records: Documenting all medical treatments and diagnoses related to the dog bite.
  • Photographs: Pictures of injuries and the location where the incident occurred.
  • Witness Statements: People who witnessed or can testify to the aftermath.
  • Dog Owner Information: Details about the dog and its owner, including any previous incidents involving the dog.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Before going to trial, there is often an opportunity to negotiate a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance company. Our team is skilled in negotiating to ensure you receive fair compensation. We will handle all communications with the insurance company, advocating for your best interests.

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Trial Process and What to Expect

The case may go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. If this happens, we will prepare you for what to expect in court, including any testimony you may need to provide.

The trial involves presenting evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. After hearing both sides, the judge or jury will decide on liability and compensation.

Contact the Bernard Law Group for Assistance

If a dog injures you or someone in your family, we can help. Our experienced dog bite injury lawyers will work to file a claim on your behalf and hold the dog owner liable. The first step is to contact our office.

The Proof Is In Our Case Results

Over $500 Million recovered for our past clients. Let us help YOU! Call 24/7 for your FREE injury consultation. 206-298-9900

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