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SEATTLE DOG BITE LAWYER

Dog owners in Seattle have a number of responsibilities. In addition to making sure that their pets are well cared for, fed, and walked on a regularly basis, dog owners also have a duty to make sure that that their animals do not attack or bite any other person or animal. When this duty is breached, and a dog bites someone, the dog owner will be held liable. If a dog bites you, contact a Seattle dog bite lawyer to schedule your free case consultation and get the ball rolling on recovering the compensation to which you are entitled. At the Khan Law Firm, we will fit you in at a time that is most convenient for you.

Dog Bite Liability in Washington: Statutory Law vs. Common Law

There are two theories of liability under which a victim of a dog bite can pursue damages: statutory liability and common law liability.

  • Statutory liability. Washington statutes hold a dog owner directly liable for any damages that its dog causes, hence “statutory liability.” The Revised Code of Washington reads that, “The owner of any dog which shall bite any person…shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog….” The statute also reads that this strict liability applies regardless of whether or not the dog was on the private property of the dog owner at the time of the attack. If a case is pursued under statutory liability, or strict liability, they can recover economic damages for their losses (e.g. the cost of stitches).
  • Common law liability and negligence. While the victim of a dog bite can indeed recover damages under Washington’s strict liability dog bite statute, they may also pursue compensation under the theory of negligence (if it applies), as has been established by common law. In a negligence suit, the dog bite victim alleges that the dog bite would not have occurred had the dog owner exercised a proper degree of care. For example, if the dog owner knew that the dog was vicious, and yet failed to restrain the dog, then the dog bite victim has a solid foundation for pursuing a negligence based tort. (Even if the dog owner did not know of the dog’s viciousness, they may still be held liable for failing to prevent harm). As a note, a negligence per se case may be pursued, which claims that the dog owner violated a law or ordinance, and that this violation led to the dog bite. For example, all dogs are required to be on leash in the city of Seattle; if a dog was not on leash at the time it bit you, you may pursue damages on the theory of negligence per se.

There are benefits to pursuing a case based on each of the theories of liability above. For example, damages may be more when pursuing a negligence based action, but the burden of proof is greater, as in a strict liability case the victim must only prove that they were bitten by the dog, but does not need to prove negligence.

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DOG BITES

WRONGFUL DEATH

DAMAGES YOU CAN RECOVER IN A DOG BITE CLAIM

Dog bite injuries can be serious. Not only are they very painful and very often require serious medical attention – in fact, a dog bite should always be checked out by a medical professional if the skin is broken, even if the bite is not severe – but they also can leave a person permanently scarred and disfigured. Further, it is not uncommon for an individual to develop psychological injuries after being bitten after a dog, especially if the victim is a child. When a dog bites you in Seattle, you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills. Going to the doctor or the E.R. can be expensive, especially if required treatment is intensive, such as reconstructive surgery.
  • Lost wages. If the dog bite renders you physically incapable of returning to work, either temporarily or permanently, you may seek compensation for the value of your lost wages and benefits.
  • Scarring and disfigurement. Scarring and disfigurement can be very traumatic to live with. If you have sustained permanent injuries of this type, you deserve to be compensated.
  • Pain and suffering. Dog bites are very painful, and the healing process can be equally as miserable.
  • Psychological injuries. As stated above, being attacked by a dog can lead to psychological injuries, like PTSD. If you have been diagnosed with a psychological injury that is directly related to your dog bite incident, you have the right to seek compensation from the dog’s owner.

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What to Do After a Dog Bite in Seattle

It is important that you take action quickly after a dog bites you. Follow the steps below:

  • Seek medical attention. It is very important that you seek medical attention following a dog bite, as dogs can carry germs and disease that may be dangerous to human health. This is true even if you do not think that the dog bite is serious – always get it checked out
  • Report the attack. You should report the dog bite to Seattle Animal Control, and if the dog appears to be dangerous, you should also report the dog bite to the police. Make sure you ask for a copy of the report.
  • Contact an attorney. As you recover from your injuries, you will surely have questions about what steps are next in terms of holding the dog owner liable. Contact an attorney for accurate and honest answers about the process.

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How an Attorney Can Help You Recover Damages

Our Seattle dog bite lawyers at the Khan Law Firm will work hard to help you:

  • Determine which theory of liability is best;
  • Determine how much money you should seek in damages;
  • Prove negligence or negligence per se, if applicable;
  • Negotiate for a fair settlement award; and
  • Take your case to court if a settlement cannot be reached.

We know how traumatic a dog bite can be. Call our experienced Seattle personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation now.