Tacoma Dog Bite Lawyer
If you ask an emergency room doctor in Tacoma to list the most common causes of visits to their department, you might be surprised to hear one of their answers is “dog bites.” While most of us think of dogs as loving and friendly pets, the unfortunate reality is that dog bites and dog attacks injure thousands of people every year in Washington. And dog bite injuries often lead to serious medical complications, particularly if a wound becomes infected.
In many cases, the owner of a dog is strictly liable when their animal attacks or harms someone. A qualified Tacoma dog bite lawyer can review your case and advise you of your legal options. At Emerald Law Group, our Washington personal injury lawyers can help you in obtaining compensation for medical bills and other financial losses arising from an unprovoked animal attack.
Washington Is Not a “One-Bite” State
The laws surrounding a dog owner’s liability for an attack can get confusing. Different states employ different rules. For instance, some states have what is commonly known as a “one-bite” rule. This means the owner of a dog is not liable for an attack unless they had prior knowledge of the animal’s “viciousness” or the dog previously attacked someone. In practical terms, this means the dog gets “one free bite” without the owner having to pay the victim.
Fortunately, Washington does not use the one-bite rule. State law provides that whenever a dog bites someone on public or private property, the owner can be held liable for any damages “regardless of the former viciousness of such [a] dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” The only statutory exception is for the “lawful application of a police dog.”
The fact the law applies to both public and private property is important. For example, if you lawfully visit someone’s home and their dog attacks you, the owner is liable. And in many cases, the owner’s home insurance policy will cover your losses. Indeed, every year homeowner’s insurers pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in claims related to dog bites and animal attacks.
At the same time, it is important to understand that an animal owner is not liable for an attack if the victim provoked the animal. Nor is the owner responsible if their dog attacks a trespasser on their property. That said, the owner can also be sued for negligence if their animals cause injuries that are not bite-related. For instance, if a dog chases a child and causes that child to fall and injure themselves, the owner could be sued if they failed to keep the animal leashed in public.
Contact Emerald Law Group Today
Dog bite injuries are often far more serious than you think. And as with any injury, you have a legal right to hold a negligent or responsible party accountable for your financial losses and ongoing pain and suffering. Our Tacoma dog bite lawyer can help. Contact Emerald Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation.