Since 2003, the average dog bite claim has increased more than 60 percent. That’s partly due to increasing medical bills. These injuries often require a high degree of medical intervention, as outlined below.
The dog bite claim amount has also increased because attorneys are very adept at communicating the nature of the injury. The jury fully understands the extent of the victim/plaintiff’s injuries. They are not just limited to line items on a medical bill.
As the claims have increased, insurance company lawyers have become more aggressive in defending these claims. Today, these lawyers will fight a case to the bitter end, even if a similar case would have settled rather quickly a decade ago.
In short, Washington dog bite victims definitely need assertive attorneys, perhaps now more than ever.
The Kinds of Damages Available in Washington
Dog bite victims receive emergency room treatment much more often than victims of other kinds of unintentional injuries. That even includes car crashes and drug overdoses.
The injury is usually much more than a simple bite. Many times, the knockdown may cause almost as much injury as the bite itself. That’s especially true if the victim is very young, very old, or has any pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, a dog bite is usually both a puncture wound and a tearing wound. As a result, the victim often needs extensive reconstructive surgery.
As mentioned earlier, the medical bills are only the beginning. Many dog bite victims suffer from PTSD-type symptoms. Some common issues include:
● Heightened awareness, and
● Personality changes.
Symptoms like these are especially acute among children. And, they may last for several years or even longer. Washington dog bite attorneys often partner with psychologists who can explain these bad feelings, and their effects, to the jury.
Four Theories of Recovery in Washington
The Evergreen State has a strict liability law. Owners are liable as a matter of law for all bite-related damages whether or not the animal showed any dangerous propensity. Essentially, if the defendant is an owner, the victim/plaintiff need only establish cause and damages to win the case.
The owner need not be in control of the animal at the moment of the attack. However, non-owners may also be liable for damages under one of the following three theories:
● Negligence: If a person displays a lack of ordinary care, that person is legally negligent. One example might be a teacher who allows children to play with a dog. While the owner or custodian may not have intended to harm the victim, we are all responsible for the mistakes that we make.
● Scienter: This Latin word means “knowledge.” If the owner or custodian knows that the dog is potentially dangerous, liability automatically attaches if the dog attacks someone. It does not matter how careful or careless the person was. Evidence of scienter includes any prior attack, baring of teeth, aggressive growling, and loud barking.
● Negligence Per Se: Most jurisdictions have very strict leash, fence, and other animal restraint laws. If a person violates one of these ordinances, and that violation substantially causes injury, the owner or custodian may be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Third party liability may be available as well. For example, in the above negligence example, the teacher’s employer might be vicariously liable for damage. That probably means the school district or the private school.
Contact Assertive Dog Bite Lawyers
Dog bite victims can use one of several theories to obtain substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced dog bite attorney, contact Kapuza Lighty. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.