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Are You Liable if Your Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

Posted on June 12th, 2022

As dog parents, we love our animals. The last thing we expect is for our dog to bite someone or harm someone on our property. Unfortunately, many Washington dog owners are left in shock when their animal bites someone on their premises.

You will likely be liable if your dog bites someone on your property. In fact, you could be liable if your dog bites anyone off your property as well. In these situations, it is important to be aware of Washington dog laws and take steps to limit potentially dangerous incidents.

Washington Is a Strict Liability State for Dog Bites

Dog bite laws typically fall into one of two categories: strict liability and the one-bite rule. Under the one-bite rule, the dog’s first instance of aggressive behavior is free from liability, but the owner would be liable for subsequent incidents.

In strict liability states, the owner is always liable for a dog bite, regardless of the dog’s prior history or the presence of negligence. Washington follows a strict liability standard, meaning that you would be liable if your dog bites someone who is in public or lawfully on private property.

Unless the person was trespassing or provoked your animal at the time of the incident, you could be financially responsible for any damages that he or she experienced. However, this statute only applies to dog bites; if your dog knocks someone over or injures someone in another way, you are only liable if negligence was involved.

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone

If your dog bites someone on your property, it is important to remain calm and help the victim as much as possible. Take the following steps after the incident:

  • Remove your dog from the area as quickly as possible. Put the animal in a crate or lock it in another room.
  • Provide aid to the bite victim. If possible, wash his or her wound with soap and warm water, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage the wound with clean dressing.
  • Provide the victim with any support that they need by contacting medical professionals on his or her behalf. Offer to contact family members or friends of the victim as well.
  • If you do not have this information already, exchange contact information with the victim and any witnesses in the area.
  • Notify local authorities of the bite and contact your veterinarian to obtain a copy of your dog’s medical records.
  • Review Washington’s dog bite laws to understand your rights and obligations during this process.
  • Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it extends coverage to dog bites that happen on your premises.

Speak to a Washington Dog Bite Injury Attorney

Dog bites can be scary and traumatic experiences. If you are attacked by one of these animals while visiting someone else’s property, you may be eligible for a claim against the dog’s owner. In these situations, you need an attorney on your side who can fight for your right to recovery.

As soon as possible following the attack, contact a Washington dog bite injury lawyer to represent your case. Your attorney will assess your case and identify your optimal path to recovery.