Spokane Dog Bite Injury AttorneyIn 2017 it was estimated that 89.7 million dogs lived in households across the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites per year—of which 750,000 will require medical treatment. If you or a loved one are attacked by a canine owned by another, there may be compensation available to you.
What Are the Dog Bite Laws in Washington State?Washington State does have laws concerning dog bite liability, specifically R.C.W. 16.08.040 which states: The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. Learn more about Washington State dog laws.
Are There Breed-Specific Dog Laws in Washington?Yes, but not in Spokane. To learn more about Washington cities and counties that are affected by breed-specific laws go to DogBite.org’s post on Washington breed-specific laws.
What if the Owner Didn’t Know the Dog Was Dangerous?It doesn’t matter. The owner doesn’t have to be aware of any dangerous tendencies on their dog’s part in order to be held strictly liable for your injuries under the statute.
Who’s Liable for a Dog Bite?Washington state is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. Dog owners facing a dog bite lawsuit have basically two defenses—provocation and trespassing. If applicable, both defenses can be argued in the same case. If a dog owner can prove the injured person provoked the bite then they will not be liable for any damages. The dog owner can also argue that the injured person was trespassing unlawfully on private property or without permission.
What Does Harboring a Dog Mean?Essentially it’s a legal way of saying who is the owner of the dog. A harborer or keeper is a person that houses, protects, and undertakes control of the dog’s actions.
But What If It Was My Friends Dog That Bit Me?My friend’s dog bit me, but I don’t want to upset them by suing them. What are my options?
…The attacking dog was owned by my friend/neighbor/family, and I don’t want to sue them.Most dog attacks are by animals owned by our friends, family or neighbors. They may or may not have known their dog was a danger—and most feel bad about the injuries the animal caused. However, when it comes time to pay for the damages it can become messy and uncomfortable with hurt feeling on both sides. A personal injury attorney acts as an intermediary between you and the insurance company, who provides coverage for the party which is responsible for the damages caused by the animal. You’re not suing the owner, rather you are making a claim against their homeowner’s policy. Insurance is purchased to protect the owner from life’s unknown events, and dog bites are one of those covered unknown events.
Steps You Should Take in The Event of a Dog BiteIf you’ve been bitten by a dog it’s important to follow some basic steps in the minutes and days following the incident.
1. Seek Medical AttentionAlways seek medical attention, regardless of how minimal the injury seems. Even if the bite seems minor, the risk of infection is reason enough to seek medical attention.
2. Identify the Dog and its OwnerIdentify who the dog belongs to and obtain their name, address, and other contact information. Get the dog’s license number, the breed, and find out if the dog has been vaccinated. If possible, collect any information pertaining to the dog’s previous history. This will assist in finding out if the dog has previously attacked another person, and if the dog was legally classified as dangerous. Homeowners and renters insurance policies will often cover animal bite claims. If the dog owner has insurance collect the following information:
- Name of insurance company
- Insurance company address
- Insurance company telephone number
- Claim number
- The exact name of the person insured
- Insurance policy coverage – the amount of money available to pay just medical expenses
3. File an Animal Bite ReportTo report a dog bite in Spokane, Washington contact SCRAPS (Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service) dispatch at 509-477-2532 (option #7). You’ll be asked questions about the incident and an Animal Bite Report will be filled out with your information and sent to the Spokane County Regional Health District.
4. Document Your Experience and Gather EvidenceTake photographs and/or video of the wounds before and after they’re treated, as well as each day thereafter. Photographs should include any torn or bloody clothing, bruises, bleeding, and where the dog attack took place. Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses. Write down what you remember of, leading up to, and after the incident.
5. Track ExpensesAny expenses related to your injury should be closely tracked and documented in the days and weeks following the incident. This includes medical bills, cost of prescriptions, lost work hours/wages, transportation costs, etc.
Be Careful of What You Say to Insurance CompaniesDo not give any statements to an insurance company or investigator retained by another party or insurance carrier. Insurance companies are not on your side and will look for any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim. Before speaking to a representative from an insurance company you should consult with a personal injury attorney. To learn more about insurance companies read our 8 Things Your Should Know About Insurance Companies post.
Get An Informed Legal Perspective From a Dog Bite Injury AttorneyDog bite claims can quickly become complicated. For legal guidance and representation through each step of your claim settlement, call Spokane’s Personal Injury Attorney Robert Hahn at 509-921-9500 or submit our free no-obligation consultation form. Allow us to review your case and work with you to recover maximum compensation for your injuries. Robert Hahn is dedicated to protecting your legal rights. Contact us today. The law says people are entitled to full compensation for their injuries. Robert Hahn says.
I know everyone has a tough time raising their family, providing for their children and spouse, and supporting their lifestyle, especially after an injury. We do everything in our power to make people whole again—to put them back where they would have been if the accident had not occurred, and with the fullest compensation for all their losses allowable under the law.
Robert C Hahn, III, PS