Every year close to five million Americans are bitten by animals, the majority being dog bites. Close to 300,000 of these people end up in the hospital and find themselves facing years of rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery.
With 83 million dogs in the U.S. alone, attacks and bites are a common reality. The fifth most common reason children visit emergency rooms is due to dog bites. If you or your child is bitten by a dog you may have a legal right to seek damages from the dog’s owner.
Dog Bite Dont’s
The best way to avoid a dog bite is to keep these basic tips in mind:
- Don’t approach strange dogs
- Don’t leave small children alone with dogs
- Don’t play aggressively with a dog
- Don’t run away from a dog under any circumstance; always stand your ground and fight
- Don’t pet a dog without letting it smell you first
- Don’t pet a dog that is eating or taking care of its puppies
Dog Bite Do’s
If you are bitten by a dog you should seek out medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites can cause infection, long-term injuries, and even diseases such as rabies. Better safe than sorry.
After you have been treated by a healthcare professional, you should contact an attorney for an evaluation of your case. It is important to obtain the personal information of the dog’s owner and that of any witnesses to the attack. If you do decide to hire an attorney, this information will prove essential in proving liability for your injuries.
Legal Basis for a Claim
The crux of a dog bite claim is to establish proof of the dog’s ownership. According to Washington State law:
“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Establishing ownership is absolutely crucial to making an injury claim. So make sure to obtain the contact information of any potential witnesses of the attack. Or do your best to get the owner to verbally admit ownership of the dog in question.
Possible Dog Bite Defense
The most common defense against a dog bite claim is if the owner gave warning before the attack. This could be as simple as having a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign posted on their property. If a dog is provoked by ignored instructions from the owner or by sudden, aggressive behavior, then the injured person’s actions could be determined to be at fault. Any of these instances could prove the owner is not liable and could jeopardize your ability to build a case.
Dog Bite Case
The best way to prevent a dog bite is to treat dogs with respect and mind their boundaries. It’s common sense to avoid a growling dog or one with its hair raised. Whenever dealing with a hostile dog, you should exercise caution by backing slowly away from the dog until you are at a safe distance. You should also never try to run away from a growling dog, as it will likely try to chase you down.
If you are injured by a dog bite, you might have a legal claim for the injuries you have suffered. Call The Advocates today for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights.