Dog attacks represent some of the most gruesome personal injuries that are suffered, particularly where a child is involved (as is often the case). Washington has a strict-liability dog-bite statute that states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages inflicted by his/her dog if it bites a person who is either in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner’s property (invitee or guest). The dog owner is liable regardless of whether the owner had reason to believe that the dog would behave in a vicious manner. The dog does not get “one free bite.” The only defense to strict liability is “provocation.” This means that, to avoid responsibility for the dog bite, an owner would have to prove that the injured person provoked the dog.
If a stray dog bites you, you have little legal recourse because you must file your claim against a dog’s owner or keeper. Your municipality generally is not responsible for the dog, even if you have called the animal shelter to pick up the stray.
In all dog-bite cases, it is essential that prompt measures be taken to find the dog and its owner, to preserve evidence, to investigate the incident, and to enable physicians and other health-care professionals to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, call now at 253-851-9164 or e-mail.