Seattle Dog Bite Lawyer
Seattle is a very dog-friendly city. Dogs are prevalent in our parks, on our sidewalks and even in our cafes and local businesses. Most dogs do not pose a threat to humans — but in the rare cases when they attack, the injuries they cause can be catastrophic.
You were minding your own business when someone else’s dog attacked and bit you, leaving a serious injury. The law firm of Elk & Elk can help you hold the negligent owner responsible and seek compensation for your damages.
Dog Bite Resources
- Why Hire Elk & Elk Co., Ltd
- Compensation Available in a Dog Bite Lawsuit
- Free Consultation: Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers
Why You Should Trust Elk & Elk of Seattle
At Elk & Elk, finding justice is our number one value. Thousands of people have trusted Elk & Elk due to our success, culture, and ability to secure compensation for our clients. In addition:
- Our Seattle personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in the personal injury area of law, securing a combined total of over $1 billion in compensation for our clients.
- Elk & Elk has successfully won numerous, multi-million dollar settlements for people who have suffered personal injuries such as dog bites.
- We have handled many complex cases; we know the ins and outs of cases like those involving dog bites and are able to handle your situation with confidence.
We understand why someone may be hesitant to reach out to a Seattle dog bite lawyer. Embarking on a legal journey can seem daunting, but Elk & Elk is here to help you every step of the way.
Why Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer?
Attempting to negotiate with the owners of the dog, insurance companies, and any other parties involved can be confusing. Oftentimes, they will attempt to deny your claims and blame you for the injuries you have sustained. As difficult and common as this type of situation may seem, you do not have to do it alone.
- A lawyer will be able to investigate your claims and advise you on how to proceed. They will identify any potential holes or missing information that you will need to be successful with your case.
- Your dog bite attorney will negotiate with the other legal teams and insurance companies involved in the case, utilizing their knowledge on dog bite law in Washington State to back up your claims.
- Finally, your lawyer will fight for your rights and represent you should your case proceed to court.
The hardest step is usually the first. Reaching out to a Seattle dog bite lawyer is the first step towards winning damages concerning your injuries. We believe that utilizing legal services and making these claims should be done as soon as possible, as you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim.
Dog Bite Lawsuits in Washington State
Dog bites can be extremely serious injuries, sometimes leading to broken bones, severe bleeding, and deep lacerations. Their severity is reflected in the shocking financial statistics of dog bites lawsuits in Washington State and the country as a whole.
- The average cost per claim nationally has risen over 160% from 2003 to 2020, with the most current claim cost being $50,245.
- In 2020, liability claims concerning dog-related injuries cost homeowner insurers over $850 million.
- Total dog bite claims in Washington State exceed $13 million annually, according to the Northwest Insurance Council.
- Dog bite injuries are the second most common type of injury for children, second only to playground injuries.
- Almost 100 children require professional medical attention every day in the United States due to a dog-related injury.
- King County sees over 300 dog bites annually.
Common Causes of Dog Bite Injuries
The reality is that dog bites can occur in many different ways and for various reasons. Sometimes, dog bites occur completely unexpectedly and without any provocation towards the dog. However, that is not always the case. There is almost always a reason that a dog bites somebody. This could be because:
- The dog is scared for some reason. Sometimes, dogs are scared because they are in an unfamiliar situation or around new people.
- The dog was provoked by another individual. Adults and kids alike can provoke dogs into biting.
- A person put their food near a dog’s toy or food.
Dogs can bite people anywhere that people mingle in the vicinity of dogs. This can include in people’s homes, on sidewalks, at dog parks, in regular parks, and even in stores.
When Dogs Attack, Owners Are Responsible
According to Washington state’s statutes surrounding dog bite injuries, the owner or keeper of any dog is liable to the person or party of any person while in a public place or legally on private property, including the residence of the dog owner. It does not matter whether or not the dog in question has a history of aggression or has bitten anyone in the past. If the dog was provoked by the injury victim, the dog’s owner will likely not be liable for the injuries.
Exceptions to The Strict Liability Rule
There are some exceptions to the strict liability rule in Washington. The owner of the dog may indeed turn to one of these defenses in order to try and get the case dismissed:
- The dog’s owner may suggest that you were in a place that you did not have a legal right to be in. For example, if you were on someone’s property without the owner’s permission and were then bitten by a dog, this would typically be considered trespassing, and you would not have the ability to recover compensation under the state’s strict liability law.
- The dog’s owner may try to say that you provoked the dog into biting or attacking you. For example, if you were in a person’s yard or on public property, the owner of the dog could say that you tried to provoke the attack by harassing the dog in some way.
The One-Bite Rule
Some states operate purely off of a one-bite rule, meaning that a dog owner will not be held liable for the bite unless the dog has previously bitten somebody before and the incident was recorded by animal control or law enforcement. As we mentioned above, Washington operates under a strict liability dog bite law.
However, if you are a dog bite victim and discover that the dog that bit you has a known history of biting other individuals or a propensity for viciousness, then the dog owner will certainly be held liable for the injuries as well.
Dog Bite Liability Laws in Seattle
There are various ways to determine whether or not a dog owner knew that their dog could potentially cause an injury and should, therefore, be held liable. For example, if a dog displays aggressive behaviors such as growling or sniping at individuals, this could give a court a reason to determine that the owner should have known about the dog’s propensity for violence. If another reasonable individual would likely have known about the dog’s violent tendencies, the court could hold them negligent because they did not prevent an attack. In Washington, it is illegal for a person to harbor a pet that has known vicious tendencies.
Again, we want to reiterate that dog bite victims are able to hold dog owners responsible for injuries regardless of whether or not the dog has ever bitten anybody before or shown a propensity for violence.
Property Owner Liability in Animal Attacks
In the state of Washington, the strict liability dog bite laws mean that a person is only allowed to file a claim against the animal’s owner directly. Individuals cannot sue the property owner simply because the dog was on that person’s property when they were bitten. However, often, the dog owner is also the property owner where the incident occurred. In that case, pursuing compensation may be the same thing as pursuing the property owner through a premises liability claim. Typically, this means filing a homeowners’ insurance claim or a renter’s insurance claim.
If you are bitten by a stray dog that happened to wander onto someone else’s property, it will not be possible for you to file a lawsuit against the property owner. There may be some exceptions to this, including if the property owner fed stray animals and allowed them to be on the property, but you need to speak to a skilled dog bite injury lawyer in Seattle in that situation.
Washington State’s Statute of Limitations Concerning Dog Bites
Every state in the United States of America has a period of time in which an injury victim must file a lawsuit. The personal injury statute of limitations in Washington is three years from the date an injury occurs. If a dog bite injury victim fails to file a lawsuit within this three-year time frame, they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.
Although three years may seem like a long time, it takes your attorney time to investigate your case. Collecting evidence and filing the proper paperwork can take a while. Between recovering from injuries and dealing with the personal impacts of a dog bite, three years can go by in a flash. Ensure success in your case by reaching out to a Seattle dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Seattle Local Dog Ordinances
When we examine Chapter 9.25 of the Seattle Municipal Code, we find the guidelines for animal control period these ordinances are meant to protect the public from animals that may be dangerous as well as stop animal cruelty. This particular chapter focuses on the owners and possessors of animals, with the main points being as follows:
- Off-leash dog areas. In Seattle, it is generally prohibited for pet owners to allow their pets to run at large, or off-leash. However, there are some places where dog owners can let the dogs off-leash on public property. When a dog is off leash and allowed areas, the dog owner must have voice control of the dog. The dog must also have valid license tags on the collar. The following areas are where Seattle residents can let their dog’s off leashes:
- Golden Gardens Park
- Northacres Park
- Regrade Park
- East Duwamish Greenbelt
- Magnuson Park
- I-5 Open Space
- Westcrest Park
- Woodland Park
- Boren-Pike-Pine Park
- Some of Genesee Park
- Dangerous animals. Officials with the city of Seattle have the right to conduct investigations into reports of potentially dangerous animals. This investigation will typically include law enforcement or animal control officials, or both. After an investigation, a dog could be declared dangerous, and the owner will be notified in writing about how to proceed. The owner has the right to appeal the decision and state why they do not think the dog is dangerous.
- Rabies vaccines. The city of Seattle requires rabies vaccines for all dogs, cats, and ferrets. Pet owners are required to obtain the initial rabies vaccine and revaccinations in accordance with veterinary instructions. Any owners who disregard this rule could be held liable if their dog bites an individual and passes rabies to other pets or a person.
What You Can do After a Dog Bite
If you or somebody you love is bitten by a dog, there are various steps that you need to take immediately and in the days that follow the incident to help recover the compensation you are entitled to.
- Always seek medical care. The number one priority after a dog bite occurs is seeking medical care. This will sometimes be very obvious, particularly if the injuries are severe or if there is bleeding. However, in some cases, dog bites may not seem very severe at first, but do not take this to mean you should not go to the doctor. Even minor dog bite injuries could become major problems if an infection sets in. Infections are very common after a dog bite injury. Going to the doctor helps establish a timeline of events between the incident and the injuries.
- Gather evidence if you can. If you are able to safely do so after the dog bite occurs, you or somebody you care about can gather evidence. This could include taking photographs of the injuries, any torn clothing, and the incident scene. Try and take a picture of the dog if it is still around, but only if you can do so safely. Do not throw away any clothing you were wearing when the dog bite incident occurred, as this may contain evidence needed to prove what happened.
- Contact an attorney quickly. Reach out to a skilled Seattle dog bite injury lawyer who can step in and handle your case on your behalf. An attorney can help gather additional evidence and will speak to all parties involved, including the dog owner and the insurance carriers. The attorney will help you file an insurance claim or a civil personal injury lawsuit.
- Continue all medical treatment. You should continue all medical treatment until you have fully recovered from your injuries. If you discontinue care and accept a settlement but later discover that the injuries are worse than you thought, you will not be able to go back and recover additional compensation.
Sometimes, Legal Action Is The Only Way To Get Compensation
Many survivors do not want to file claims against the dog’s owner. Often, they love dogs themselves and fear that the animal will be put to sleep. But taking legal action against the owner is often the only way to recover full compensation for your damages. Elk & Elk can help you with your claim, protect your rights and stand up to negligent dog owners.
Our Contingency Fee Policy
One of the principal concerns when deciding on whether or not to reach out to an attorney is money. While it may be tempting to try to go about the legal process alone, the complexity of doing so can lead you to a weaker case. Elk & Elk’s peak concern is finding you justice, and this is reflected in our contingency fee payment policy.
When hiring one of our attorneys to take on your case, you will not pay a single dollar in upfront or out-of-pocket fees until Elk & Elk wins your case. Our firm is committed to your success and only requires payment once compensation for your injuries is in your pocket.
Did You Survive a Dog Bite? Get a Free Consultation.
Our team is here to help with all of your legal needs. The financial implications related to sustaining a dog bite can be straining on an individual and a family as medical costs continue to rise. Elk & Elk is here to help you through the legal process and secure the compensation you deserve.
Reach out to a Seattle dog bite lawyer by scheduling a free, no-risk, no-obligation consultation with the offices of Elk & Elk to discuss your dog bite case. You can do this by calling 1-844-ELK-WEST (1-844-355-9378) or by filling out our online contact form at any time of the day. By reaching out to one of our attorneys, you will have confidence that your case is dealt with in a swift and decisive manner.