Spokane Dog Bite Attorney

Seriously Attacked or Bitten by A Dog

Sweetser Law office successfully handles dog bite cases every year, many of which result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in recovery. Dog bites are much more common than most people realize. Dog bites occur an estimated 4.7 million times in the United States every year and more than 850,000 dog bites require medical treatment, with the most frequent victims of dog bites being children under the age of nine.

Washington State’s Dog Bite Laws

Dog Barking at someone​The dog’s owner is usually responsible when an animal attack occurs. Under Washington law, a dog owner is responsible for preventing injury to others that their dog may cause. The majority of dog owners take the responsibility to keep control of their dog seriously. They keep their dog on a leash, keep animals indoors or build fences that enclose their property.

Washington State Statue, RCW 16.08, makes a dog owner liable for damages caused to any person bitten while on public property or lawfully on private property. Unlike some other states, Washington does not adhere to the one-bite rule. Washington generally imposes strict liability on the dog owner. It does not matter whether the dog displayed aggressive behavior before. The law specifically states that:

“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.”​

A dog’s owner may be held liable for injuries if an attack occurs in a public place or a lawfully private place, (including the dog owner’s own private property) so long as the victim was legally allowed to be there and was not trespassing.

Steps Need to Be Taken After A Dog Bite

The most important step to take after being bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention. If you are seriously injured by a dog, you should go to the emergency room immediately or call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive.

  • Get the name and contact information of the dog’s owner. Many dog bites and dog attacks occur on the property where the dog lives with its owner. However, in other instances the dog may get loose and attack someone in public. In either case, investigation by a lawyer can identify the owner of the dog (which is crucial for assessing fault). Whenever you can, get the name and contact information for the dog’s owner.If you cannot, a lawyer may be able to help track veterinary and ownership documents to determine who owns the animal.
  • Take pictures of your injuries. It is important to document the injury or injuries you have sustained. Although your medical records will provide a comprehensive document of the harm you have suffered, pictures you take with a camera or your smartphone can vividly demonstrate the extent of trauma from the attack.
  • Speak to witnesses. If anyone else saw the dog bite you, get their name and contact information as well. As with any injury or accident claim, witness testimony can be crucial for establishing the facts of the case and supporting your right to compensation.
  • File a Report with Animal Control. The county will take and file a report of the incident and share all the information collected in their investigation. The dog will not necessarily be impounded based on your call. However, an officer will complete an investigation to ensure the dog is registered and vaccinated as a matter of public health and safety.
  • Understand the seriousness of dog bite injuries: The physical harm of a dog bite (which can be significant) is just one factor in how the injury impacts your life. Often the adverse mental and emotional effects of the injury can be just as damaging, if not more so. Your lawyer can review your medical records, speak to your doctors, and hire medical experts to assess the severity of your injuries and the current and long-term medical issues/costs you might face.

What If the Dog that Bit Me Belonged to a Friend or Family Member?

Because people are most often around the dogs of others they know, most dog bite victims are attacked by the dogs of friends, family members, or neighbors. As a dog bite victim, this could put you in a difficult situation; you have suffered an injury for which you deserve compensation, but you don’t want to strain a relationship over money.

The fact that you know the individual is reason enough to hire a lawyer. Direct contact with the dog owner who is also a friend or family can be uncomfortable. It is helpful to tell the owner that you have a lawyer that is going to handle this stressful situation with the owner’s insurance company.

Fortunately, in most cases, we can resolve a case against a friend, family member, or neighbor without filing a lawsuit. Sweetser Law Office prepares a comprehensive demand sent to the homeowners or renters insurance company prior to any suit. The dog owner does not pay out of his or her own pocket when a pre-suit settlement is reached. With the right attorney, the compensation you are entitled to will come from the dog owner’s insurance carrier, not from the dog owner directly.

Animal attacks can cause severe injuries

  • Puncture wounds
  • Nerve damage
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Facial Injuries

Psychological injury is another common outcome after a dog bite. Victims may develop a fear of dogs and experience issues such as anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Infection is another potentially serious complication of a dog bite injury. Dogs carry a number of kinds of harmful bacteria in their mouths. When these bacteria enter the body through an open wound, a serious infection may occur.

Potential compensation for a dog bite:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Disability
  • Scarring and Disfigurement
  • Suffering and Pain
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Contact our dog bite attorneys in Spokane at (509) 444-4444. Sweetser Law Office is here for you.