If you’ve been bitten by a dog, there are a number of relevant Washington-based laws that apply to your case. Individual states set the laws governing personal injury lawsuits, and dog bite cases are just that, personal injury lawsuits.
Here, we’ll talk about the relevant Washington laws that pertain to dog bite cases.
Washington Dog Bite Laws
Washington’s dog bite statute can hold an owner liable without the plaintiff having shown negligence. This is in stark contrast to the vast majority of personal injury claims where plaintiffs do have to prove negligence. Those who have been bitten by a dog need only prove that the dog bit them while they were either in a public place or lawfully in a private residence. That includes the owner’s residence.
Washington does care that the dog never behaved like that before. Nor does it care that the owner had no warning that the dog could lash out like that. For dog bites, Washington is a strict liability state.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Personal Injury Lawsuits
Any lawsuit involving a personal injury claim must be filed within 3 years of the incident. There is only one exception and that when the individual involved was a minor. In that case, the individual has 3 years to file after their 18th birthday.
Logistically, you should contact a lawyer immediately upon being released from the hospital and they should file your lawsuit within at least a year of the incident. The closer to the lawsuit is to the dog bite incident, the better off you are.
Defenses to Dog Bite Claims
There are two main defenses to dog bite claims in Washington. Those are:
In order for a victim of a dog bite to recover damages if bitten, the owner must have clean hands. The victim must have been in public or legally allowed on the owner’s property. In addition, if they hit, teased, or otherwise provoked the dog, the owner will not be liable for damages.
Due to strict liability, the owner must be able to prove that it is more likely than not that the victim provoked the dog.
Who Pays for Dog Bite Damages?
If a dog bite occurs on the owner’s property, their homeowners insurance will cover the damages. Often, homeowners insurance policy limits are well over $100,000.
Some pet owners actually insure their pets, a well. In that case, their animal insurance policy would cover any potential claims against them.
If the owner has no animal, homeowners, or any other kind of insurance that can be used, you can sue them directly for your injuries.
We Can Help You with Your Case
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you’ll want to ensure that you receive the full value of your claim. Not only does that include medical expenses and missed time from work, it also includes pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment. The Yakima, Washington personal injury attorneys at Kapuza Lighty PLLC have ensured excellent settlements for our clients. Give us a call or contact us online and we’ll begin preparing your case immediately.