Spokane Dog Bite Lawyer
Each year dogs bite approximately 4.5 million Americans, of which half are children. Nearly 800,000 bites require medical attention.
Dog bites occur for many reasons and from many types of dogs. In most cases the owner of a dog that bites someone bears legal responsibility. If the victim sustains injuries, the dog owner may be liable for expenses including medical bills, time out from work, and the victim’s pain and suffering.
Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
If you’re bitten by a dog, understand that the injuries can be more serious than they initially appear. Either superficial wounds — such as scrapes and gashes — or more serious puncture wounds can result. In addition, if you aren’t familiar with the dog that bit you the risk of rabies is greater.
You must seek medical attention immediately if injured by a dog. A medical professional will examine your wound for possible damage to bones, nerves, muscles and tendons. The doctor will clean the wound to remove bacteria and dirt, along with any dead tissue caused by the injury.
A doctor also may use sutures to close your wound, but not every medical professional agrees that this practice is best. Sutures can help decrease scarring, but they also can increase the chances that you’ll develop an infection resulting from your wound. The location of the injury may determine in part whether your doctor chooses to suture it. For very serious or deep wounds, plastic surgery may be required.
If the dog who bit you has rabies or its status is unknown you also may need a rabies vaccine, and you’ll likely receive a tetanus shot as well. An antibiotic course may be required to prevent or treat infection, and you may need to have the injury checked again.
What to Do if You’re Bitten by a Dog
Seeing a doctor as soon as possible is important, but you also can take steps to begin treating a dog bite wound until you can get to an emergency room.
When you receive treatment from a medical professional, you should be ready to answer questions about the bite, including whether you know the owner and whether the dog is current on its vaccinations. You’ll also be asked about the conditions and reasons for the bite, and you should share information about any other health problems you have.
If someone else’s dog bites you and the owner is present, you should get contact information so you can obtain proof that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies. In addition, try to get contact information from any witnesses who saw the dog bite you, and take photographs of your wounds prior to treatment.
You should follow up with the veterinarian that administered the rabies vaccine to ensure that it is current. In addition, notify your local animal control department and the police department.
Potential Liability for Dog Owners
Washington adheres to a “strict liability” rule regarding dog bites, meaning that an owner bears legal responsibility even the first time their dog bites someone. Being generally unaware that a dog might bite is not a shield against liability for dog owners in Washington State.
Under the state statute on dog bites, the owner of a dog that bites someone can be held liable if the injured person is bitten when in a public place or a private place where the person has a legal right to be present. In addition, liability requires that the injured person did not take actions to provoke the dog.
If a dog has bitten you in Washington and you wish to sue the owner, you must file your claim in court within three years. After three years, the statute of limitations passes, and claim still may be barred from being heard.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
If you’ve suffered personal injury from a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. Dog bites can cause serious injuries and may require compensation to pay for medical bills — including possible plastic surgery in the future — and to cover expenses like lost time from work along with your pain and suffering.
An attorney with experience in dog bite cases can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled. To consult with a personal injury attorney, please contact Twyford Law Office.