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Seattle Premises Liability Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > What To Do After Suffering A Dog Bite In Washington

What To Do After Suffering A Dog Bite In Washington


Dogs are a best friend to many across the Seattle area, but they aren’t always so friendly to strangers. Dogs can bite for any number of reasons – perhaps they feel provoked, threatened, or are trying to protect a person or property. When dogs do attack, people can be injured and those injuries can be severe. The law protects those who are injured by dog bites and offers a path toward fair compensation through the legal process.

Dog bite attacks are usually unexpected and caused by off-leash dogs or other situations in which the owner failed to properly care for or restrain their dog. These incidents are not rare at all – in 2020, for example, United States insurance companies paid approximately $853.7 million to resolve 16,991 dog bite claims. In many cases, an owner’s failure to properly train or socialize their dog can cause problems when their pet has a run-in with another dog. Other times, a sick or stressed dog might be likely to bite or attack when feeling pressured in some way.

Ultimately, dog owners bear the responsibility of making sure their dog doesn’t cause harm to others. Under RCW 16.08.040, a dog owner is liable for damages to a person bitten by their dog if:

  • The victim is in a public place; or
  • The victim is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog’s owner. (A trespasser on another’s property cannot later sue for damages from a dog bite.)

This law applies whether or not the dog owner knew or had reason to believe that the dog could be vicious. If a person was bitten and meets either of the criteria above, they can successfully sue for damages sustained in a dog attack.

Common dog bite injuries include:

  • Lacerations and puncture wounds;
  • Infection from bites that break skin;
  • Soft tissue damage, including damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments;
  • Uncontrolled bleeding when a blood vessel is ruptured;
  • Rabies and other infectious diseases that can be spread by unvaccinated dogs.

These injuries can be devastating to anybody, but particularly to small children (the most frequent victims of dog bite attacks).

To pursue a personal injury claim after a dog bite, it helps to have as much information as possible regarding the incident, including:

  • A police report documenting the incident;
  • Any medical bills related to the injuries sustained (including descriptions of the injuries themselves);
  • Eyewitness accounts if available;
  • Name and address of the dog owner responsible for the incident.

Difficult as it can be to prepare information and plan a course of action after suffering a traumatic personal injury, it is important to take all necessary measures to assert your legal rights and seek fair compensation.

Our Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help Dog Bite Victims Recover Fair Compensation through the Legal Process

 If you or a loved one has been victimized in a dog bite attack, there are legal pathways to hold the dog owner responsible and compensate you for your any costs, lost wages, and emotional distress involved. The proven Seattle personal injury attorneys at the Emerald Law Group will evaluate your case and explore all potential avenues to recovery in a Seattle area dog bite claim. To learn more today, feel free to visit our firm online or call for a free consultation at 206-823-0792.


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