If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, as always, you should put your health and safety first. After getting the necessary medical attention, it may be time to consider your legal options. When a dog attacks, victims can suffer various and significant losses. The law may allow for you to recover and receive compensation.
Virginia does not have a dog bite statute that makes the owner automatically liable. You are going to need to prove the owner did something wrong. It is important to retain an experienced dog bite attorney who can help you pursue full and fair compensation for dog bites through a lawsuit or insurance claim.
What to Do if a Dog Bites You
When you are a victim of an animal attack, your only job is to get to safety. Get away from the aggressive and violent animal.
Document the Dog Attack
If you are able, take note of the breed and appearance of the dog and the dog?s owner. If you know the dog and owner, this is easy. If you do not know the dog, the more notes you can take, the easier it may be to identify the dog and its owner.
If possible, ask the owner for their name, contact information, and homeowner?s insurance information.
Get Medical Help
Get medical care as soon as possible. If you or your child are suffering from serious injuries, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room. A physician will ensure the wounds are cleaned and serious injuries are diagnosed and treated.
Even for minor wounds, going to a doctor is still a good idea. A physician can ensure the wounds are thoroughly cleaned to avoid infection. You also may need a rabies booster after a dog bite.
Report the Dog Bite
Once the dog bite injuries have been treated, the next step is to report the dog bite to animal control in your area.
In Roanoke, you can contact the police department or call Animal Control Service?s non-emergency number at (540) 562-3265. Animal Wardens will investigate the accident to determine if the animal needs to be caught and tested, if a dog needs to be quarantined for signs of rabies, or, to determine if charges need to be filed against the owner.
If you are unsure of the steps to take, do not hesitate to call Attorney Cerid Lugar at Lugar Law PC.
Dog Bite Symptoms and Injuries
When you sustain a dog bite wound, you may feel a sharp or dull pain. You may describe it more as discomfort than acute pain, but that does not mean the injury is not serious.
Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Injury to the muscle, tendons, and ligaments
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Facial injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical limitations
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
To reduce the risk of infection, rabies, or another secondary injury, see a doctor as soon as possible. Going to the ER right away or seeing a physician within 72 hours is also important for an insurance claim. If you wait too long or never see a doctor, an insurer may try to deny your claim for a dog bite settlement.
Virginia Dog Laws
The laws governing dog bite claims in Virginia have developed over time with one legal decision after another. When another person?s dog bites you, our lawyers for dog bites can clearly explain the law and your options.
Virginia does not have a strict liability law. Owners are not automatically liable for any injuries their pets cause. Instead, you must be able to show wrongdoing on the owner?s part. The owner must have been negligent in controlling their animal or failed to properly contain or control a dangerous dog. Talk with a dog attack attorney about how to prove the owner or another party?s liability.
The rules governing Virginia dog bite claims include:
- The One Bite Rule: A dog?s owner can be held responsible if they knew the pet might act aggressively or violently. This is usually evidenced by the fact that the dog bit someone in the past or attempted to bite someone. The one-bite rule is slightly misleading. The dog does not have to have actually bitten someone else before. Other forms of aggressive behavior or harm put the owner on notice of future injuries and create liability. The one bite rule really also applies to civil liability with the state holding the owner responsible versus a private civil action for the damages from a dog bite.
- Dangerous Dogs: Under Virginia law, a dangerous dog means one that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a companion animal or a person. A dog will not be labeled dangerous for a single nip or a bite that only resulted in a minor injury. But, once a dog has been deemed dangerous under the law, the owner must register the dog, take extra care to contain the dog on their property, and, when in public, keep the dog leashed and muzzled.
- Vicious Dogs: In Virginia, a vicious dog is one that has inflicted serious injury on a person or caused a person?s death. A serious injury includes serious impairment of health or a bodily function, serious disfigurement, requires significant medical attention, or creates a reasonable potential for death.
- Dog Owner Negligence: You may be entitled to compensation when the owner does not have knowledge of the dog?s aggressive traits if you can establish the owner was negligent. Dog owners are responsible for containing, restraining, and controlling their dog. Failing to control their dog, which leads the dog to attack you, makes the owner liable. A dog is allowed to protect its domain, meaning the property where it resides and the curtilage (the land surrounding the home). Thus, if you are bitten on someone?s property where the dog resides, then the owner may not be liable.
- Negligence Per Se: A dog owner may automatically be deemed negligent if that owner failed to obey a state law or local ordinance regarding its dog. This is negligence per se. For example, failing to keep a dog on a leash at a public park and allowing the dog to run away and bite someone is negligence per se.
Dog Bite Compensation
At Lugar Law PC, an experienced dog bite injury lawyer will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your attack and injuries. We will determine where you were and your status on the property. It is important to determine whether or not you were on public property or whether you had implicit or explicit permission to be on private property.
We will look into the dog?s background and obtain documentation of any previously reported attacks. We also will look into the dog owner?s background and determine if they previously owned dogs that were dangerous or aggressive.
In addition to taking your statement, we may contact witnesses to the attack and ask for their statements regarding what took place. All of this can help us establish the dog owner?s knowledge of the dog?s history or negligence in not managing the dog.
Once we build a strong case against the dog owner or the party in control of the dog at the time, we will file a dog bite lawsuit or insurance claim. In some dog bite cases, a homeowner?s insurance policy or a business?s liability insurance will cover your injuries.
Through litigation or settlement, we will demand you receive full and fair compensation for your past and anticipated future damages including possibly the following:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Physical Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Reduced Earning Potential
- Reduced Quality of Life
We Handle Roanoke Dog Bite Cases
If you or a loved one suffer serious dog bite injuries, contact Lugar Law PC right away. An experienced dog bite attorney can represent you in pursuing compensation. We will thoroughly investigate the case to establish a strong claim and fight to recover everything you deserve.
We also are prepared to respond to the dog owner?s potential defenses, including that you were trespassing, you antagonized the dog, or that you were negligent too. We will fight hard against these defenses to show that you were the victim and should be appropriately compensated.