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Dog Bites at Off-Leash Dog Parks in Washington

Dog owners really do enjoy taking their pets to the dog park. Guess what? The dogs really enjoy the park as well.

However, what happens if someone else’s dog bites and injures you at the dog park?

At Colburn Law, we understand how complicated these cases can be. Here, we want to discuss who may be held liable in the event you sustain a dog bite injury at an off-leash park. You should be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Who Is Responsible for a Bite at the Dog Park?

In nearly all circumstances, dog owners will be held liable for any dog bites that occur in a dog park when a dog is off-leash. However, there can be arguments made that a person bitten by a dog in an off-leash dog park should have to pay for their own expenses, and you can be certain that these arguments will be brought up if any injury claim arises as a result of a bite incident.

For example, one common argument in defense of dog owners in these situations is that every person who enters a dog park does so knowing that there are other dogs off-leash. Essentially, the argument is that any person who enters a dog park assumes a certain amount of risk of being bitten by a dog. Yes, the “assumption of risk” doctrine is a real thing that can prevent individuals from recovering compensation in some injury claims, but this is typically not used in a dog bite incident at a dog park.

The overall consensus is that a dog owner will be held liable in these situations, and we can look directly at Washington law to back this consensus up:

“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” (RCW 16.08.040).

This type of law is known as a “strict liability dog bite” law. Not all states have this type of law in place. In some places, a dog owner cannot be held liable unless the dog has already bitten somebody before or has a known propensity for aggression. That is not the case in Washington.

When a person goes to a dog park, they are typically entering the space lawfully. Usually, these are public areas, though there are private dog parks in rare circumstances. So long as the dog bite injury victim was following the rules when they entered the dog park and while they were in the dog park area, and as long as they did not intentionally provoke another dog into aggressive action, then they will likely be able to recover compensation if a bite does occur.

Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer for Help

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a dog bite injury in Washington, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney immediately. At Colburn Law, we have extensive experience handling complex injury claims, including dog bite incidents. Our team knows what it takes to investigate dog bite claims and help victims recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. We know dog bite laws, and we understand what it takes to hold a dog owner liable for the actions of their pet. Our team will stand up to aggressive insurance carriers and dog owners to make sure that you recover the compensation you need.