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What Happens if My Dog Bites Someone

As a dog owner, you love your pet unconditionally. You certainly do not expect your furry friend to cause any harm. Unfortunately, dogs are still animals with predatory and protective instincts and can inflict serious injuries by biting others.

If your dog bites someone, you could face serious consequences for its actions. In these situations, it is very important to react quickly and take action to protect yourself, your animal, and the victim.

Steps to Take If Your Dog Bites Someone

The moments after a dog bite can feel overwhelming. However, there are steps you can take to seek help:

  • First, get your dog away from the area as soon as possible. Remain calm and firmly remove your dog from the situation. If you are able, bring the animal to another room or secure it in a crate.
  • Next, see if the bite victim needs help. Provide him or her with first aid by washing the wound and wrapping it in clean bandages. Help the victim seek medical attention to avoid potential complications, like infections.
  • If you do not have these details already, exchange contact information with the victim so that he or she can follow up with you later. If any witnesses saw the attack, ask them for their contact details as well.
  • Finally, inform the proper authorities about the incident. You will likely need to contact your local animal control office. Then, tell your veterinarian about the bite and bring your dog in for a check-up.

Liability After a Dog Bite in Washington

Washington follows a strict liability statute for dog bites. Under this law, dog owners are strictly responsible for any bites that their pets inflict on other humans. A victim can file a lawsuit against the owner regardless of negligence, as long as they were bitten while in public or lawfully in a private place. 

For example, say that you and your dog are visiting a public park when it charges and bites a child playing on a swing. In this situation, you would be liable for the child’s injuries. If your dog attacks and bites an intruder who enters your home illegally, you are not liable for his or her damages.

Being Declared a Dangerous Dog in Washington

After your dog bites someone, the state may declare it to be a dangerous dog, depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack. According to Washington law, a dangerous dog is any animal that has done any of the following.

  • Inflicted severe injury on a human without provocation
  • Kills a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property
  • Has been previously found to be potentially dangerous with notification sent to the owner

As an owner, you are allowed to keep dogs that are deemed dangerous. However, you will need to abide by strict rules. Dangerous dogs must use muzzles and restraint chains, for example. Your local animal control authority may levy additional regulations as well.

Speak to a Washington Dog Bite Lawyer

Dogs have the potential to inflict serious injury. If you are bitten by a dog, you may be eligible for financial compensation—and a Washington dog bite lawyer can help. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following the incident to discuss your legal options.