Suing for a dog bite injury

If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact one of our experienced lawyers at (757) 244-7000 for legal advice and representation.

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Dog bites can be extremely serious. As well as the initial pain and discomfort, dog bites can become septic and result in additional complications. In extreme cases, victims have died or suffered amputations. Our Virginia dog bite lawyers represent people who have been injured by dogs due to the negligence of an owner or another person.

When Can an Owner or Another Person Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite?

Virginia may hold an owner or another entity legally liable for a dog bite if that person’s negligence or violation of an animal control ordinance resulted in the injury. However, Virginia does not have a strict liability dog bite statute. That makes these cases more tricky and worthy of the attention of a Hampton dog bite injury attorney who has fought these cases.

Lawsuits for dog bite injuries may be brought in Virginia when the animal’s owner or keeper is negligent.

Negligence and Dog Bites in Virginia

In Virginia, the owners of dogs must use “reasonable care” in restraining and controlling their animals, whether or not the owner is aware that the dog is dangerous.

The victim of a dog bite may be able to recover compensation if he or she can show that the injury resulted from the owner’s failure to use reasonable care to restrain or handle a dog. For example, when an owner leaves the gate of a property open and a dog escapes and bites a child he has failed to use reasonable care.

If you are hurt by a dog you may be able to show negligence if the owner or keeper of the animal failed to obey a relevant leash law or ordinance. These cases are known as “negligence per se.”

The owner or keeper’s violation of the leash law may be enough to establish negligence. The law considers the failure of the owner to follow a leash law as a failure to take “reasonable care.”

What’s is Virginia’s “One Bite” Rule for Dog Injuries?

People who are seeking compensation over a dog bite may be hampered by Virginia’s “one bite” rule for these injuries. This means a canine’s owner is only liable for injuries if he or she knew the dog was dangerous or aggressive. It’s known as the “one bite” rule because the owner typically must know the animal has bitten at least one other person previously.

This is an archaic law with its roots in common law developed in England centuries ago. Hundreds of years ago, many animals wandered the streets of England and bites and attacks were commonplace. The judges held the owner of an animal would not be held liable unless it had bitten someone previously.

A minority of states retain the “one bite rule.” However, most states have modified it with their own statutes. States that modified the rule typically have a “strict liability” rules for dog bites which hold the owner liable for injuries irrespective of whether the dog has bitten anyone previously.

Even in states like Virginia that retain the “one bite rule,” the victims of dog bites are permitted to present other types of evidence to show the owner was aware or should have known the dog that carried out the attack was dangerous or aggressive.

The victim of a dog bite does not necessarily have to prove that the dog attacked previously but he or she must show that the animal has a propensity to be aggressive and dangerous.

What Can You Recover in a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Virginia?

People who have been injured due to the negligence of an owner or the violation of a local leash law can seek compensation for a number of types of losses. These are:

  • Lost past and future earnings
  • Medical expenses and other related costs
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma

Dog bite cases can be tricky given the restrictions in Virginia. It makes sense to hire an attorney who has previously fought these cases.

At times, people are hesitant to bring lawsuits against a neighbor or a friend whose dog has bitten them or a family member. However, any lawsuit related to a dog bite is brought against the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance rather than his or her personal assets.

What Are the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds in Virginia?

Recently, Inside Dogs World listed the most dangerous species of dogs. The list of the top five breeds most likely to bite and attack should come as no surprise. They are:

  1. Bull Mastiff
  2. Dobermann Pinscher
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Rottweiler
  5. Pit Bull
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About Smith Law Center

Our lawyers are more than lawyers. They are people who understand your injuries and the law that surrounds your options when it comes to holding others accountable.

Hire an Experienced Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog bites can cause terrible injuries. Attacks by dogs may even prove to be fatal. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog attack, you may face an uphill task in holding an owner accountable for injuries. Our Hampton, VA dog bite lawyers have litigated many of these complex cases. Please contact us today for help.


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