No one wants to think about the possibility of their dog being attacked, but being informed can empower you to take appropriate action if the worst happens. In Washington state, laws are in place that outline the responsibilities dog owners have to prevent their pets from injuring people or damaging property. If another dog attacks your dog, here is what you need to know about your legal options.
Dog Owners’ Legal Responsibilities in Washington
In Washington state, the law is clear: if your dog bites someone, you are responsible for compensating the victim for his or her damages. This remains true regardless of whether the dog had prior incidents of biting or if you were aware of your dog’s propensity to bite. However, this strict liability rule applies to human victims, not animals.
However, there is a legal basis for filing a lawsuit if a dog attacks your pet. Dog owners are required to prevent their pets from:
- Causing harm to another person
- Damaging personal property
Because animals, including dogs, are considered property under the law, a dog owner becomes liable when his or her pet damages someone else’s property, including another dog. Thus, if your dog is attacked by another without provocation, you have a legal basis to hold the other owner accountable for any injuries sustained.
How to Determine Liability When a Dog Attacks Another Dog
Determining who is at fault in a dog-on-dog attack can be complex and often relies on specific facts. Multiple factors can help determine liability in a potential insurance claim or property damage lawsuit. For example:
- Location Matters: If a dog enters another owner’s yard uninvited and attacks a pet, the intruding dog’s owner is generally liable. For instance, if a Labrador is in his yard and a Rottweiler, without invitation, runs in and attacks, the Rottweiler’s owner would be liable for damages.
- Breed and History: Liability can also depend on whether a dog involved in the attack is considered a dangerous breed or has a history of violence or biting. These factors could shift responsibility to that dog’s owner, who may have failed to take the necessary steps to prevent an attack.
- Leash Laws: Many places in Washington require dogs to be leashed. A dog running loose, as opposed to one that is on a leash, may influence who bears liability. A leashed dog is generally considered to be under better control, while an unleashed dog has more opportunities to become aggressive and attack.
Why You Need a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer on Your Side
In cases involving dog-on-dog attacks, the process of filing a lawsuit or insurance claim can be cumbersome. Proving liability requires a nuanced understanding of local laws and regulations. If you find yourself in this situation, hiring an attorney can provide you with the resources and support that you need.
A Washington dog bite lawyer can:
- Assist in gathering crucial evidence, including medical records for your pet and any surveillance footage of the incident
- Help navigate the complexities of state and local animal control laws
- Advocate for you in court or insurance negotiations to ensure you receive fair compensation for veterinary costs and any other related damages
As soon as possible after the attack, schedule a free legal consultation with to discuss your options with a Washington dog bite attorney.