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Can Breed Affect the Outcome of a Dog Bite Case?

Posted on August 31st, 2022

A dog bite can be seriously traumatic, regardless of the type of dog that inflicted the injury. It is common for victims to suffer infections, scarring, disfigurement, and other life-changing injuries. In Washington, dog bite victims can file legal claims against the owners of these dangerous animals and recover compensation to pay for medical care and other losses.

If you are pursuing a dog bite lawsuit or insurance claim, you may wonder if the dog’s breed would affect the outcome of your case. Although Washington does not have breed-restrictive bans, there are some issues that could arise throughout your claim.

Washington Dog Bite Laws

In Washington, dog bite laws are defined by the Revised Code of Washington section 16.08.040. According to this statute, dog owners are strictly liable for any bite injuries suffered by a person who is lawfully on private property or in a public place. 

This means that an owner is always financially responsible for a dog bite in these situations, regardless of whether negligence was involved. Under this statute, dog breeds are treated equally under the law; whether the dog was a pit bull or a chihuahua, the owner would be liable for any bites that it inflicts.

This strict liability law only applies to bites and does not apply to other types of injuries. If a dog injured you in another way, such as knocking you to the ground, you will need to prove that the owner’s negligence was responsible for the damages that you suffered.

Does Washington Have Breed-Specific Legislation?

In 2019, the state of Washington enacted a ban on breed-restrictive legislation. Prior to the passage of this law, several cities in Washington had ordinances in place that restricted the ownership of potentially dangerous breeds. 

Now, a city or county government cannot enact breed-specific legislation or declare a dog as dangerous without providing a means for dogs to take the American Kennel Club’s canine good citizen test. Dogs who successfully pass the good citizen test are exempt from any breed-restrictive regulations for at least two years. 

Dog Breed Could Impact an Insurance Claim

While a dog’s breed may not have an impact on your ability to pursue a lawsuit, it could affect your ability to file an insurance claim. Some homeowners’ insurance companies refuse to provide coverage to people who own certain breeds of dogs, such as the following:

  • Great Danes
  • Pit bulls
  • Rottweilers
  • German shepherds
  • Akitas
  • Siberian huskies
  • Alaskan malamutes

If you are bitten by a breed of dog that is not covered by the owner’s insurance, you would not be eligible to file this type of claim. Instead, you would need to escalate your claim to a lawsuit and pursue litigation in civil court. 

Speak to a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer

When you are the victim of a dog attack, you can suffer significant trauma. With their strong jaws and sharp teeth, these animals can inflict serious and life-altering injuries and psychological distress. In these situations, you deserve justice.

A Washington dog bite lawyer can represent your lawsuit against the animal’s owner and secure fair compensation for your injuries. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after the attack to discuss your legal options and initiate your claim.