In Washington, dog owners are almost always liable if their pets bite another person. As long as the victim was lawfully on private property or in a public place, the owner would be financially responsible for the injuries that the victim suffers.
When the animal is in the care of another person, however, liability is not as clear. If you were watching someone else’s dog and suffered injuries, you could pursue a claim against the owner, as long as you did not provoke the animal.
What Happens If a Dog Bites a Pet Sitter?
Dog owners are responsible if their animal bites another person. This liability applies regardless of whether the dog has a violent history or a record of previous bites. If an owner leaves his or her animal in the care of a pet sitter, the owner would still be liable for any injuries that occur while pet sitting.
If a pet sitter is bit while watching a dog, he or she could file a lawsuit against the animal’s owner. However, the sitter may share partial liability for the bite if he or she acted in a way that increases the likelihood of a dog bite.
These actions may include:
- Taunting or teasing the animal
- Hitting, kicking, or abusing the dog
- Failing to provide adequate food or water
- Intentionally annoying the dog
- Failing to reasonably control a dangerous dog
Comparative Negligence in Washington Dog Bite Cases
To protect his or her assets, an owner facing litigation may accuse a pet sitter of being partially responsible for the dog’s bite. If the owner can prove partial liability, he or she could limit the amount of compensation that he or she would need to pay. In some cases, the case may be dismissed entirely.
Washington is a pure comparative fault state. Under this law, the court will reduce the settlement a plaintiff or victim receives if he or she shares some blame for a dog bite. This reduction will be equal to the percentage of fault that the plaintiff holds. A victim can recover compensation whether he or she is 90% or 10% at fault for the bite.
For example, say that a pet sitter files a lawsuit against a dog owner for $20,000 after a bite. However, the court discovers that the sitter failed to provide food or water to the dog for a few days, causing the animal to become agitated. The court determines that the sitter is 70% at fault. Therefore, the owner would need to pay $6,000 to the sitter, not the full $20,000.
Bitten While Pet Sitting? Speak to a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
As a pet sitter, you could find yourself in a confusing world of legal liability after a dog bite. Even if you were contracted by a company to watch someone’s dog, many of these entities do not pay for injuries caused by an animal. In these situations, you need an attorney on your side who can fight for your right to recovery.
A dog bite injury lawyer can defend you against accusations of fault and hold the owner accountable for the full extent of your damages. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following to attack to learn more about your legal options.