Vancouver WA Dog Bite Lawyer
If you sustained injuries by a vicious dog, you should contact a Vancouver WA dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Dog bites can be very serious and can cause:
- puncture wounds
- broken bones
- permanent damage, such as facial scarring
This is especially true when young children are the victims of dog bites.
Due to the very serious injuries that can result from dog bites, you should seek legal counsel immediately. An experienced Vancouver dog bite lawyer can ensure that you receive all of the legal damages and compensation you deserve. Call Uptown Injury Law Office to find out if you can file a dog bite claim.
Does the One Bite Rule Apply?
Washington is a strict liability state. This means that if a dog bites even once, the owner can be responsible. If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, you should immediately contact a dog bite lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights.
You Can Hold Dog Owners Strictly Liable for Injuries
When it comes to dog bite cases, the law is very favorable to dog bite victims. In Washington, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for an unprovoked bite that occurs on public land (or while the victim is lawfully on private property), regardless of whether the dog has a prior history of biting people. This means that a dog owner can be held strictly liable, without regard to the dog owner’s level of fault (if any). An experienced Vancouver dog bite lawyer can analyze the facts of your case to help your recovery.
Was the Dog Owner Negligent?
In addition to strict liability in Washington dog bite cases, a dog bite victim may also be able to recover for his or her injuries under a negligence theory of liability. This theory is usually applicable when a dog owner is careless in restraining a vicious dog outdoors or lets the dog run at large — even when the dog has bitten someone in the past and even when the dog owner knows of the dog’s dangerous propensities.
What Must You Prove?
In order to prove negligence, you must show that the:
- dog owner owed a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances
- dog owner breached this duty
- breach legally and proximately resulted in your injuries and damages
In order to show that a dog owner had a duty, you must consider where you were and what circumstances existed. If you were on public property or were a visitor or invitee on private property, then the dog owner likely has a duty to control their dog in that situation. People who are on property legally can expect a certain amount of safety. Thus, a dog owner owes those people a duty to prevent their dog from biting.
Trespassers may not have that same promise of safety on private property. If you were a trespasser who was bitten by a dog, you should contact a dog bite lawyer right away. You may still have rights regarding dangerous dogs that have the potential to bite.
If a dog owner allowed their dog to bite a person on public property or when someone was legally on private property, then they breached their duty. However, it is necessary to prove that the owner knew or should have know that they should have acted in a certain way. A dog bite lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove that a dog owner breached their legal duty.
Gathering Medical Records
It may seem easy to prove that a dog bite caused your injuries. However, the defendant’s attorneys will try to show that you had preexisting conditions or were otherwise injured and the dog bite did not cause all of your injuries. It may be necessary to gather medical information and present expert witness testimony regarding your injuries and treatment.
Each of these elements must exist in order to prove that the dog owner was negligent. An experienced Vancouver dog bite lawyer can review all of the facts and circumstances of your case with you. She will make a determination as to whether or not a negligence case exists against the dog owner.
How Soon Do I Have to File My Case?
Under Washington law, the statute of limitations in a dog bite case is three years from the date of injury. In some dog bite cases, such as where a local governmental entity, police department, or animal control board could be a potential defendant, the statute of limitations period may be even shorter, as you may have to comply with certain notice requirements prior to filing a lawsuit. If you have sustained a dog bite injury, you should immediately contact an experienced Vancouver dog bite lawyer. She can file your claim in a timely manner against the proper defendant(s).
A statute of limitations is a limit on the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit. It’s important to file a claim within the prescribed amount of time; otherwise, you may forfeit your claim. You will likely have to file a claim with an insurance company or submit a lawsuit to court. Both of these entities will review your statute of limitations before validating your claim. If you file a claim or lawsuit after the statute of limitations, then your claim may not be denied or dismissed.
You May Be Able to Settle Outside of Court
In a Washington dog bite case, the defendant is usually the dog owner. Dog owners are sometimes family members or close friends. Therefore, dog bite cases can be particularly “touchy” subjects. However, a home owner’s insurance policy held by the dog owner will most likely provide all of the necessary coverage to compensate the victim. Therefore, in many cases, you can reach a settlement without ever having to file a lawsuit or go to court. Your Vancouver dog bite lawyer will be able to ascertain all of the potential defendants in your case. She can help to facilitate a favorable settlement for you.
We Can Help You Through Settlement and Negotation
A settlement would begin when your dog bite lawyer files a claim with the insurance company. The insurance company may request an interview or additional information from you and the dog owner. If there is a history of bites or vicious behavior, then you may have to provide this information as well. It can be difficult to gather all of the information necessary to prove your claim. A dog bite lawyer can help you with the initial steps of a claim through negotiation and a final settlement, if one is reached.
The next step in a settlement will be making a demand upon the insurance company. The insurance company may make an offer; however, your dog bite lawyer will likely make a counter offer. Negotiation will occur, with both sides trying to come to an acceptable settlement amount. If you reach an acceptable amount, then you can settle your claim outside of court. However, if the insurance company does not make a decent offer, then you may have to file a lawsuit.
The information gathering and negotiations process can take a long time. The insurance company may deny your claim and refuse to pay anything. If this happens, it’s important to work with a dog bite lawyer who can represent you.
What Damages Are You Eligible to Receive?
You may be able to receive both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that you can calculate exactly. This includes compensation for medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are those types of damages that you cannot readily calculate in terms of dollars and cents. The most common types of damages sought in Washington dog bite cases include the following:
- medical costs: This includes compensation for hospital bills, hospital stays, medical treatment, physical therapy, and all other treatment that is causally related to the dog bite injuries.
- ongoing medical costs: This includes costs for ongoing and future medical treatment that can be causally connected to the dog bite. For example, if you can prove that you sustained significant facial scarring and will need plastic surgery in the future, you may receive damages which would cover the cost of this surgery.
- lost income/wages: This includes compensation for lost wages and missed time from work that can be causally connected to the dog bite injury. These damages also cover loss of future earning capacity in the case of permanent injuries or impairment.
- pain and suffering: This includes compensation for past, present, and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience experienced as a result of the dog bite injuries.
Your Vancouver dog bite lawyer can ascertain which types of damages are applicable in your case. She will also work to prove these damages and maximize the value of your case.
Learn About Your Options by Contacting a Vancouver Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog bites can result in very serious and permanent injuries. You must have experienced legal representation at every stage of your case. A Vancouver dog bite lawyer will aggressively pursue your dog bite claim against the dog owner and/or the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. If you have sustained a dog bite injury, contact a dog bite lawyer at Uptown Injury Law today.