Magnuson Lowell Blog
Each week we post a blog about relevant legal issues. Glance through our various topics to learn more about a particular legal situation.
Dog bites may not seem serious, but Washington’s legislature found the issue so important that an entire law was devoted to protecting dog bite victims. RCW 16.08.040 specifically holds that a dog owner is almost always liable for the damages caused by their dog’s bite. With a few exceptions that means that any injuries sustained because of a dog bite are included in a Personal Injury claim to the homeowner’s policy.
Regardless of the dog former viciousness (or lack thereof), a dog owner is usually strictly liable for their dog’s bites. The biggest caveat is built in for police dogs, but trespassers are often not provided these protections either. In nearly all other scenarios, however, if your dog bites a friend or stranger, you are responsible for the injuries.
Dog bites vary in severity based on a number of factors. Smaller dogs may have vicious bites, but most commonly severe dog bites are found in medium and large breed dogs. While many large breed dogs are inherently friendly, their mere size creates the potential for a powerful bite.
The first damage often experience is the pain associated with an open wound. Most severe dog bites will end up at the hospital for proper cleaning. Sutures are less common unless the bites are much more substantial to avoid locking in bacteria. This trip to the ER and follow-up visits to the doctor as necessary are all claimed to insurance.
Pain will wax and wane often for months as the wound improves. You will be forced to endure cleaning sessions and time spent bandaging the area. Your life may be affected, and your activities might be limited due to pain. Embarrassment is also a major factor in dog bite cases. A bite for some might mean little emotional effect. However, ugly bandages and an inability to interact with peers may leave an emotional toll on others.
Infections are also major concerns with any sort of animal bite. If you start to see worsening of the condition, severe redness, discharge, or anything that just doesn’t look right, you should immediately contact your doctor for an appointment.
Finally, scarring is the most common major damage from dog bites. Deep scars, especially around the fact, may drive the value of your personal injury claim. Scars along the arms and legs and even those covered mostly by clothing still hold substantial value in a Personal Injury Claim.
When it comes to dog bites, the separation is in the preparation. Working with an attorney early on is a substantial boon to your case. Taking photographs early and often will help document your journey. If your life has been affected by the injury, keeping a journal or getting testimony from friends may be a great way to ensure the insurance company takes your case seriously. If you have been injured by a dog bite, having an experienced litigator by your side can make all the difference. The attorneys at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS are available to take your calls and offer free case evaluations. Call today!