Are Dog Owners Liable for Bites in Washington?
When you see someone walking their furry friend, or when you visit someone’s home, you shouldn’t expect to be in danger of an animal attack. Many of us have dogs in our own homes, so seeing a dog is often a welcome thing. Unfortunately, it can turn into a nightmare if the dog decides to attack you unprovoked.
Dog bites are serious, but before proceeding with a personal injury claim, you’ll need to know who’s responsible for the attack. Are dog owners liable for bites in Washington? Make sure you know what to expect, before you file, by contacting a lawyer from Craig Swapp & Associates.
Strict Liability for Dog Owners in Washington
When you’re bitten by a dog, determining responsibility is crucial. You’ll need to find the person liable, as, of course, the dog can’t be held responsible for the accident. Although you might have guessed that the dog owner is nearly always the person responsible for the dog’s behavior, how accountable are they?
For example, the dog might not have shown any signs of aggression before the attack. This incident might have also been the only time the dog has ever attacked anyone. The dog’s owner is still liable for your suffering.
Dog bites are serious, and they can leave you with deep puncture wounds, infections, and diseases such as rabies, if the dog wasn’t vaccinated. Even if the dog has never attacked anyone before, the owner is still responsible for the dog’s actions.
Washington adheres to strict liability, which means that the first attack is still the owner’s fault. They might not have seen it coming, but they must take responsibility for their pet.
When Are They Not Responsible?
However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t viable defenses to dog attacks. If the canine owner refuses to pay, either through insurance or out-of-pocket for your expenses, they might enlist a lawyer to form a defense.
Typically, there are two major defenses to a dog bite claim. The dog’s owner will need to prove that you were either unlawfully on the property where you were bitten, or that you provoked the dog to bite you.
Even if you didn’t directly provoke the dog, the owner could claim you didn’t notice signs that the dog was uncomfortable and likely to bite. For example, the dog might not have been growling, but they might have shown other signs of aggression and warning, such as flattened ears or extended eye contact.
You and your attorney will need to be prepared to address these defenses. If you don’t fight back, you could end up paying for your own treatment and losing any chance at compensation.
Contact a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer
A dog attack can leave you with painful injuries, extended recovery time, and emotional trauma. It makes sense that the pet owner should be held responsible for their dog’s actions, but you might be wondering whether dog owners are liable for bites in Washington.
Although the answer is typically yes, the injury claims process can be confusing and stressful for someone trying to focus on recovery. You might want to enlist the help of a lawyer from Craig Swapp & Associates, who can guide you through your case, from determining the responsible party to ensuring all the necessary documentation is in order.
If you’re struggling with a dog bite, seek out our attorneys for a free consultation about your attack. To get started, simply call us at 1-800-404-9000 or fill out the online form below.