Richmond, Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer
Holding Dog Owners Accountable for Negligence
Dog attacks can be as emotionally traumatizing as they are physically debilitating. Victims who eventually recover from the lacerations, broken bones, and other wounds may still be terrified whenever a dog is near them, causing day-to-day hardships and mental anguish.
When a dog attack leaves someone in a severe state physically and mentally, it is time to consider demanding financial compensation from the dog’s owner. To allow yourself the time to recover from your injuries without worrying about the many nuances of dog bite laws in Virginia, team up with Portner & Shure, P.A. and our Richmond dog bite attorneys. We will proudly stand up for you in court against the opposition if a settlement negotiation does not work. Our one goal is your total satisfaction as our client, which means securing you the best outcome possible.
For a free consultation, call us at (804) 282-0011 or contact us online.
Virginia Dog Bite Laws
Virginia uses the “one-bite rule” when assessing liability in a dog bite or dog attack claim. This rule, with some exceptions, precludes a dog bite victim from recovering compensation from the dog’s owner unless it can be proven that the dog owner knew or should have known of their dog’s violent nature. If a dog has always acted well-behaved and never attacked anyone in the past, then you will be facing an uphill battle as the first person that dog has bitten.
However, the one-bite rule is not all-encompassing and undefeatable. There are pockets in the law that could allow you to still seek and recover damages even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Circumstances that could change the application of the one-bite rule:
- The dog that bit you has exhibited other signs of aggression in the past, like growling and baring teeth. Biting or charging someone is not strictly necessary to establish that the dog has a history of aggression or a dangerous temperament.
- The dog’s owner was not taking reasonable care to prevent the dog from biting someone. Owners who do not try to restrain their dogs, do not warn people of their dog on the premises, or do not use a leash when the dog is in public can still be held liable if that dog bites or otherwise attacks someone for the first time.
Two Legal Theories for Dog Owner Negligence
When a dog owner fails to take reasonable care to protect others from their dog, the legal theory of negligence can be used to hold them liable. Something as simple as placing the dog in another room when guests are over or maintaining a perimeter fence around their yard can be enough to escape some accusations of negligence, though.
Using the negligence per se theory of liability, you can make the argument that the dog owner violated an animal control ordinance and are, therefore, automatically negligent and liable to a not insignificant degree. Citing the lack of a leash when there are leash laws in your area is probably the simplest and most common use of negligence per se in dog bite claims. Although, depending on your municipality, there could also be animal control laws that require warning signs to be placed clearly on any property with a dog.
Or negligence per se can apply when someone owns a large dog breed in a housing complex that specifically bans that type of dog. If the complex manager knew of the large dog that bit you, then they could become liable through professional negligence, which will further complicate your claim and likely necessitate the assistance of a professional Richmond dog bite attorney.
Did You Aggravate the Dog That Bit You?
A dog owner might be able to use the defense of contributory negligence against you when you are suing them for compensation. The basis of this defense is simple and asserts that your own negligence contributed to the likelihood that the dog would try to attack you. Dogs, like people, are allowed some degree of self-defense rights and can be excused from attacking an aggressor.
Negligent or reckless acts that could provoke or aggravate a dog could be:
- Growling or yelling at it
- Deliberately using aggressive posturing at it
- Striking or trying to strike it
- Intentionally trying to scare or surprise it
Your case could also be disrupted if the defendant can prove that they owed no duty of care to you due to your intentional criminal acts. For example, trespassers looking to burglarize private property will have a difficult time filing a claim if they are bitten by a dog on that property. Or people who were bitten by a dog who was defending its owner from harm are also unlikely to have any legal footing to bring forth a dog attack claim.
Dog Bite Damages & Injuries
Physical injuries not uncommonly suffered in dog attacks are:
- Muscle, ligament, and nerve damage
- Permanent scarring
- Bacterial infection around the bite wound
To treat some of the worst injuries, a dog attack victim may require emergency medical attention. Once the patient is stabilized and resting, a doctor may discuss follow up care options like reconstructive surgery or physical therapy depending on the extent of the injuries. As mentioned, a violent dog attack can also cause the victim to experience lasting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that make them fearful whenever a dog is nearby.
Virginia law allows a dog attack victim to demand compensation for all of their injuries, physical or otherwise. Economic damages like lost wages and medical costs can help get a claimant or plaintiff back on their feet. Noneconomic damages for their pain and suffering can help keep them that way.
Contact Our Richmond, Virginia Dog Bite Attorneys
For a dog bite victim, the process of pursuing fair compensation from the liable party can feel like an insult added to their painful injuries. Dog bite claims are often filed against homeowners’ insurance policies, which means that major insurance companies will be standing in opposition and using their extensive resources to make certain the claimant gets as little possible. Even when you are clearly injured and the dog owner is clearly liable, they will fight your claim.
Get the award-winning Richmond dog bite lawyers of Portner & Shure, P.A. on your side as soon as possible. We know how to litigate complex personal injury cases and fight aggressive defense attorneys in and out of court. Our multilingual staff allows us to represent English-, Spanish-, Chinese- (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese-, and Korean-speaking clients. We want to support people from our community and all walks of life! Let us show you how by choosing us as your legal representatives today.
Let’s talk about your dog bite injury case today. Call (804) 282-0011.
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