Understanding the Washington Dog Bite Laws
While millions of people own dogs, they are not always friendly animals. In some cases, a dog will bite even when unprovoked. Dog bites can do serious, irreparable damage, and unfortunately, many times, the victims are children and elderly. If you are bitten by a dog in Washington State, you need to speak to an attorney to determine your rights.
At Ranz Injury Law, PLLC, we represent individuals who have been seriously injured in dog attacks in Federal Way, Tacoma, and the surrounding areas. Our dog bite injury lawyers can help you understand your rights, including your right to compensation after an attack. Did you suffer a dog bite injury? Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
What Evidence Should I Compile to Support My Personal Injury Claim After a Dog Bite?
If you are bitten by a dog in Washington State, it is important to collect evidence in order to prove your case. Foremost, you will want to secure your medical records related to the attack. Your medical records will help to prove your injuries so that you can obtain compensation for your damages. It is also important to provide proof of your employment and income in order to secure recovery for any lost wages.
You will also want to obtain information about the dog owner. Dog owners are held liable when their dog attacks under RCW § 16.08.040. According to this statute, a dog owner is liable if the attack occurred in a public place or the victim was lawfully in a private place. It does not matter whether the dog previously was prone to viciousness or if the owner had knowledge of their propensity toward viciousness.
Are Dog Owners Always Liable for Dog Bites?
Washington State imposes strict liability on dog owners. Therefore, they are generally responsible for any damages if their dog bites or injures another person in a public place or in a private place that they were legally allowed to be.
A dog owner is liable if their dog bites a person in a:
- Public place
- Private place (as long as they are there lawfully)
A person must have the implied or express consent of an owner to lawfully be on their property. Implied or express consent of the owner is not presumed if the person entered a property that is fenced or reasonably posted. A dog owner may not be held liable if the person attacked was trespassing or provoked the dog. To further understand your rights after an attack, you need to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer.
What Is the “Beware of Dog” Sign Law in Washington?
If a dog is labeled a “dangerous dog” under Washington State law (RCW § 16.08.080), the owner must provide sufficient proof of a secure enclosure to confine the animal and the posting of a “clearly visible warning sign” that notifies people of a dangerous dog. The owner must also “conspicuously display a sign with a warning symbol that informs children” that a dangerous dog is on the premises.
A dangerous dog is defined as a dog that:
- Causes severe injury to a person on public or private property without provocation;
- While off of their owner’s property, kills a domestic animal without provocation; or
- Was previously labeled a “potentially dangerous dog” because of an injury inflicted on a human.
Whether or not the dog was labeled a dangerous dog, you should always consult with a personal injury attorney to determine your rights after an attack.
How Many Times Can a Dog Bite Before Being Put Down in Washington?
State law leaves the decision of how to handle dangerous dogs up to local authorities such as the city or county animal control authority. Generally, a dog that is labeled dangerous will need to be secured in an enclosure and will not be permitted outside of the enclosure without a muzzle and leash.
Only in rare circumstances would a dog be euthanized as a result of a bite. The decision, however, to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog will not impact what restrictions that animal control imposes on the animal or their owner.
Injured in a Dog Bite? Contact Our Office.
Did you or your loved one suffer a dog bite injury in Federal Way, WA? Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. We will guide you through the legal process and work to get you the recovery you deserve after an attack.