Owner Liability For Aggressive Dogs in Washington
Dog owners have certain responsibilities when they know that their dog has a propensity for aggression. Washington law is very particular about dangerous dogs and the steps that owners must take to keep the public safe. At Colburn Law, we have a track record of success recovering compensation for dog bite injury victims, and we have dealt with negligent dog owners before. Here, we want to outline how a dog owner may be held liable for an attack caused by an aggressive dog.
What Is an Aggressive Dog?
When we examine Washington state law (RCW 16.08.070), we can see that there are specific definitions pertaining to “dangerous dogs.” Under the law, this is broken down into the following:
- Potentially dangerous dog “means any dog that when unprovoked: (a) Inflicts bites on a human or a domestic animal either on public or private property, or (b) chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, or any dog with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or to cause injury or otherwise to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.”
- Dangerous dog “means any dog that (a) inflicts severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property, (b) kills a domestic animal without provocation while the dog is off the owner’s property, or (c) has been previously found to be potentially dangerous because of injury inflicted on a human, the owner having received notice of such and the dog again aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans.”
If a dog fits into the “dangerous dog” category, then the dog’s owner has certain responsibilities that they must abide by in order to keep the dog.
What Do Dog Owners Have to Do to Keep the Public Safe?
RCW 16.08.090 says that “It is unlawful for an owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be outside the proper enclosure unless the dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under physical restraint of a responsible person. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal.”
Dangerous dog owners must also:
- Properly register the dog with the authorities (certificate of registration from animal control).
- Have a proper enclosure to confine the dog in post clear warnings that there is a dangerous dog on the premises.
- Obtain a surety bond from an insurance carrier of at least $250,000, payable to any person injured by the dangerous dog.
- Have a liability insurance policy, such as a homeowners insurance policy, or at least $250,000.
This law is specific in the responsibilities that dog owners have if their pet has been labeled as dangerous. The law goes on to say that “potentially dangerous” dogs can be regulated by local, municipal, and county ordinances as well.
Dogs Can Be Confiscated
RCW 16.08.100 states that dangerous dogs can be immediately confiscated by animal control if:
- The dog is not validly registered with appropriate authorities
- The owner does not secure liability insurance
- The dog is not maintained in a proper enclosure
- The dog is outside of the dwelling of the owner or outside of the proper enclosure and not properly restrained
Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today
If you or somebody you care about has been bitten injured by a dog in Washington but are unsure about where to turn to recover compensation, contact Colburn Law today. These cases can be incredibly challenging, and you need a lawyer by your side who understands the laws related to dog bite injuries.
This state operates under a “strict liability” dog bite law that holds dog owners responsible for the bite, so long as a person was in a public location or lawfully in a private location. Bite victims should be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. Additionally, any individual who has a dangerous dog and fails to take the steps required by law to keep public safety could be held criminally accountable for their actions.
When you work with a dog bite injury lawyer in Washington, you will have an advocate who can fully investigate the situation, handle all communication with the insurance carriers, and work to recover the compensation you need to get through this.