Dog bites are an unfortunate occurrence that can turn into a complex and emotional legal case requiring the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Because different states have different laws pertaining to dog bites, an experienced lawyer who handles dog bite claims recognizes the important of both those who own dogs and those who are bitten by dogs to be aware of the rules that apply in their state.
Dog bite laws in the state of Washington are more strict than many other states, as dog owners are responsible, even if the bite incident was provoked or otherwise uncharacteristic of the involved dog. Anyone injured in a dog bite incident in the state of Washington can hold the dog owner responsible for sustained injuries, regardless of a dog’s past history. It would be prudent to discuss any potential injury claim with a law firm that is experienced in handling dog bite claims.
Strict Liability and the “One Bite Rule”
Some states have what is called a “One Bite Rule.” This basically means that when a dog with no prior history of biting a person is provoked or otherwise affected in such a way to act out of character and bite a person, the owner of that dog may have some protection from liability. The state of Washington does not follow the One Bite Rule, instead following the rule of strict liability from the first bite. This makes a dog owner liable for any injuries caused by their dog, even if the dog has no bite history, was obviously provoked, and the bite took place on the owner’s property. A lawyer who is experienced with handling dog bite claims advises potential clients that the owner is solely responsible for any bite made by their dogs, for any reason, under any circumstances.
Negligence, Liability and Scienter
Liability can also extend beyond a dog’s owner to a handler, keeper, or anyone who failed to properly contain or control a dog. As a law firm experienced in handling dog bite claims explains, “scienter” is the legal term that applies when an owner or handler knows the animal might bite; such knowledge makes that person responsible for preventing a bite. Failure to do so expands the circle of liability from the owner to anyone who knowingly handles that dog and fails to prevent a bite from happening.
Determining Liable Parties
At times, determination of the liable party is less than obvious, since the laws in the state of Washington assert the various parties are either owners, keepers, or handlers; however, an experienced personal injury attorney explains that there is no actual definition of who is an owner. An unclear area has been with landlords; they are generally exempt from liability for a tenant’s dog and are not required to protect a third party from dogs owned by tenants.
The statute of strict liability pertaining to dog bite incidents in the state of Washington works in favor of someone who is bitten by a dog and wants to file a claim with the help of a personal injury attorney. Dog owners can be sued for liability to cover the injuries caused by their dog, especially when they are unwilling to accept responsibility. For any victim confused about liability, a lawyer who is experienced in handling dog bite claims can help determine the responsible party and file suit, if necessary, on behalf of their client. Working with an experienced dog bite claims law firm is recommended in such cases!
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