Tacoma Dog Bite Attorneys
Dogs are among the most popular pets in America. While most dogs are gentle to humans, provided they are not provoked, others may viciously attack total strangers due to poor training and handling. Dogs are ultimately the responsibility of their owners, and when they do attack, their owners should be held accountable for any medical bills or damages suffered by victims.
If you or your child has been bitten by someone else’s dog, you may have a claim for compensation for your losses. A personal injury claim can include everything from emergency medical care to lost wages to psychiatric treatment for emotional trauma. However, dog bite cases are complicated and require a thorough understanding of the law to ensure you receive the most out of your claim. That is why you should not hesitate to reach out to the Tacoma dog bite attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Call our firm at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to schedule a free consultation.
We all like to view dogs as reliable and friendly animals, but we have to remember that many are not properly trained. Owners have the responsibility to teach their dogs commands, keep them on leashes, and be mindful of their temperaments. If a dog is abused, neglected, or otherwise mistreated, it can become aggressive and territorial. Even if well-behaved, a dog could jump on someone and cause a serious fall.
An estimated 368,245 people were treated for dog bite-related injuries in a single year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even more disheartening is the fact that approximately 42.% of these bites were suffered by children under the age of 14. Dogs who bite children often target the face and eyes, causing serious scarring and even disabilities.
There is a simple reason for this – children are smaller than adults and their faces are easier to reach by a dog. Also, children may not recognize the warning signs when a dog is becoming aggressive or is not comfortable around a child. But even if a child ignores a dog’s growls and continues to try to pet it, the dog’s owner is still responsible if the child is injured because they should have kept their dog restrained or out of the child’s reach. In fact, the state of Washington’s dog bite laws may even make an owner liable for damages.
Washington law imposes “strict liability” on dog owners at RCW 16.08.040. If a dog bites a person who is in a public place or lawfully on private property (including the dog owner’s property), the animal’s owner is liable for resulting damages. The law applies even if the dog had not previously demonstrated aggressive behavior, and whether the owner knew or should have known about any aggressive tendencies the dog had.
However, there are limitations. Washington state operates under comparative negligence laws, meaning a dog bite victim may be limited in how much compensation they can receive if they acted negligently. This can include intentionally provoking a dog, trespassing on the owner’s property, or threatening the owner, leading to the dog defending them. In these instances, the law could find that the dog bite victim’s actions led to their own injuries, meaning they cannot recover compensation.
Dogs who attack can cause a variety of injuries, ranging in severity from minor to fatal. It is important to note that bites are not the only danger in a dog attack. A dog’s claws can easily tear into your skin and cause severe scars. Or they can jump on someone and knock them to the ground, causing head trauma. Both situations could result in a personal injury claim.
Common dog attack-related injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue damage
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Scarring and disfigurements
- Emotional trauma
In addition, dog saliva contains more than 60 types of bacteria. When a dog’s teeth pierce a victim’s skin, bacteria from the animal’s mouth can enter the body. This can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening infections, including tetanus, rabies, MRSA, staph, strep, and sepsis. Even if you think an attack was minor, you should seek medical treatment immediately to ensure there are no long-term consequences.
In order to recover compensation for your injuries, you must simply show that the dog attacked you and that you did not do anything to provoke the attack. In addition, demonstrating that the owner acted negligently, either by letting a dog wander off their property or failing to keep them on a leash, can be incredibly important to your case. Negligence, while not required for a dog bite claim, can help prove that the owner could have taken steps to prevent a dog bite but failed to do so.
The key elements of a dog bite claim in Washington include:
- The animal attacked you, causing your injuries.
- You had a legal right to be in the place where you were when the dog bit you.
- You did nothing to provoke the dog.
One final aspect of your claim is the amount of damages you wish to recover. A dog bite claim can include far more than medical treatment. It can also include lost wages from time off work, lost career opportunities if you are left disabled due to the attack, scarring and disfigurement, psychiatric treatment for emotional damages, and pain and suffering. Altogether, the value of your claim may be larger than you realize.
After a dog bite, you may be able to file a claim for compensation against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. But insurance companies are rarely ever charitable, and if you do file a claim against one, it may try to minimize the amount of compensation you can receive or deny your claim altogether. That is why, if you or your child has been seriously injured in a dog attack, your best chance of recovering full compensation is to have an experienced Tacoma personal injury attorney by your side.
At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we have more than four decades of experience representing injured people throughout Washington and can provide you with the same outstanding legal guidance. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay us no fees until we win a recovery for you. There is no cost to reaching out to us to discuss your claim. Call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to find out how our law firm can help.
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