Seattle Dog Bite Lawyers
The old saying goes that dog is a man’s best friend. But the truth is that dogs are not always harmless or friendly. Some dogs are aggressive, territorial, and even violent—some by nature and others by circumstances or lack of proper training.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. Of those dog bite victims, 799,700 victims needed medical care, and about 6,000 people were hospitalized due to the dog bites.
These statistics do not prove that dogs are inherently dangerous. Instead, they illustrate that we should not take a dog’s friendliness for granted, and that in some circumstances people can be seriously injured from interactions with dogs.
Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite injuries can range from mild to catastrophic. After suffering a dog bite, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if it appears to be a minor wound, you or your child may require a vaccine or booster shot and having the wound thoroughly cleaned and treated is essential to prevent infection and promote healing.
Dog bites injuries can include:
- Puncture wounds
- Soft tissue injuries
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Rabies (a virus most commonly spread through the saliva of an infected animal and can be fatal if not treated promptly)
- Pasteurella (a bacterial infection)
- Capnocytophaga bacteria (a bacterial infection)
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA – an antibiotic resistant staph infection)
- Tetanus (a toxin produced by Clostridium tetani bacteria, which causes rigid paralysis)
Dog bites can require extensive medical treatment to repair serious tissue damage, prevent further injury and infection, and to repair your appearance to the greatest extent possible. At Menzer Law Firm, we have handled dog bite cases involving all types and severity of injuries, including bites that have caused permanent disfigurements and disabilities.
Washington Dog Bite Laws
Under Washington law, dog owners are responsible when their animals injure other people. Under RCW 16.08.040, the owner of any dog that bites any person while that person is on a public place or lawfully on private property is liable for the damages suffered by the bitten person, regardless of whether the dog has bitten someone before or the owner knew of such behaviors.
To recover compensation from the owner, you do not need to prove the dog ever bit someone before. This type of law is known as “strict liability.”
However, the dog bite victim must not have provoked the attack. Under RCW 16.08.060, if the dog owner can prove provocation, this can be complete defense to a claim for compensation.
You also may be able to recover compensation for a dog bite based on someone’s negligence. If the dog was in the care of someone other than the owner at the time of the attack, you may be able to hold that person responsible if they were careless in containing and controlling the dog.
Someone other than the dog’s owner can also be liable for your dog bite injuries if they were not negligent but knew of the dog’s previous vicious or dangerous propensities. This is what is known as the “one bite rule.” In Washington, it expands liability from the dog’s owner to others who watch or keep the dog.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you or your child are attacked by a dog, the first step is to get to a safe place. It can be helpful to take photos of the dog. However, always put your health and safety first.
Ask for the name and contact information of the person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack. If that person is not the owner, ask for the owner’s name and contact information. If the dog is with a paid dog walker at the time of the attack, ask for the name of the specific company, such as Rover.
Seek out medical attention as soon as possible. For minor injuries, you may feel comfortable going to your family physician or an urgent care clinic. For serious injuries, you should go to the emergency room.
Getting immediate medical care is also important for legal reasons. It creates a record of the dog bite and your injuries, which can be used late on to support your claim for compensation.
Report the bite to the local police or the animal control authorities. If the attack occurred in Seattle, you can report the incident to Seattle Animal Control.
The next step is to call an experienced Seattle dog bite lawyer. When another person’s dog has attacked and injured you or your child, you should not second guess your rights. You should take steps to hold the animal owner or handler responsible and obtain fair and just compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.