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Who Is Liable in Dog Bite Cases in Washington?

Dog bite incidents often lead to significant injuries and major medical expenses for victims. It is crucial to determine liability so that injury victims can recover compensation for their losses. Here, we want to examine Washington state’s dog bite liability laws and explain how these laws can affect your dog bite injury case.

The Dog’s Owner Is Usually Liable

Washington state operates under what is considered a “strict liability” dog bite law. When we examine RCW 16.08.040, we can see that the language reads:

“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.”

Not all states follow this strict liability dog bite system. In some locations around the country, dog owners are only held liable for a bite if the dog has previously bitten somebody before or if the dog has a known propensity for aggression.

There may be certain situations where other parties could be held liable for a dog bite injury, aside from the owner. For example, if the owner has allowed another person to have control over the pet for some reason, then the individual with control of the dog when the bite occurred will likely be held liable for the incident.

Who Pays for Dog Bite Injuries

Determining who pays for dog bite injury expenses can be challenging. This can vary depending on where the dog bite occurs and the situation of the dog owner. In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance carrier will cover these expenses. In fact, dog bites are one of the most common claims brought against homeowners’ insurance policies.

However, not all dog owners actually own their homes. In some situations, dog owners have renter’s insurance policies that may cover these expenses, though some renter’s insurance policies specifically exclude dog bites or certain breeds from coverage.

There may be circumstances where business insurance policies can pay the dog bite expenses. This will likely be true if the bite occurred on the dog owner’s business property. It is not uncommon for there to be dog-friendly business establishments or for individuals to use dogs to monitor property throughout Washington.

It may be necessary to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner to recover compensation from the owner’s personal assets if they do not have any insurance policies that can pay the dog bite injury expenses.

Call a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a dog bite injury in Washington, you need to reach out to an attorney immediately. At Colburn Law, our team has the resources necessary to investigate every aspect of your claim so we can recover compensation for your losses. Our goal is to ensure you receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and even your pain and suffering damages caused by the dog bite.

One main benefit of working with an attorney is that they will be able to examine all possible routes of recovery and compensation after a dog bite occurs. This will include determining which insurance policy if any, the dog owner has available. If necessary, an attorney will file a civil personal injury lawsuit on your behalf against the dog owner and take the case to court.