While dogs are mostly known to be man’s best friend, some dogs can have aggressive personalities and tendencies to bite or attack others. If you’ve been bitten by another person’s dog, you’re probably wondering what dog bite and dog attack laws there are to protect you in Virginia. As a personal injury attorney who handles dog bite cases, I’m here to help.
Virginia Law on Dog Bites
Virginia requires dog owners to be aware of their dog’s temperament, nature, and tendencies, and to act responsibly according to those characteristics to prevent dog bites and dog attacks from occurring. This means that an owner of a dog known to be aggressive – especially if the dog is from a breed considered aggressive – is legally expected to act with a higher duty of care than a dog owner who has a lap dog that is docile and calm.
Additionally, many of the municipalities in Northern Virginia – including Fairfax, Arlington, Vienna, and Alexandria – have “leash laws” on their books. If you live in a municipality where there is a leash law, your dog must always be either secured behind a closed fence or on a leash when outdoors, otherwise you could be held liable if your dog bites or attacks another person.
What Do You Do if You or a Loved One is Attacked By A Dog?
A dog bite or dog attack is a scary situation. If you or a loved one is bitten or attacked by a dog, there are certain steps you want to take if you’re medically capable of doing so. These include:
- Calling the police to report the dog bite or dog attack.
- Doing your best to identify the dog or owner. If the owner is around, exchange contact information. If not and it’s safe for you or someone else to approach the dog, check the dog for an identification tag.
- Take photos of your injury, the dog, and the area where the injury occurred.
- If there are any witnesses to the dog bite or dog attack, exchange contact information with them.
- Seek emergency medical attention, and follow your doctor’s orders exactly.
- Document what happened while the incident is fresh in your memory, either by writing it down or typing up the details.
- Contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite and dog attack cases.
What Damages Can You Seek if You Were Bitten or Attacked by a Dog?
Virginia dog bite law may allow you to seek damages for several items if you were bitten or attacked by another person’s dog because of the owner’s negligence. You can seek damages for:
- Your current and future medical bills. This is important because some dog bites are so severe they require corrective or plastic surgery.
- Lost wages for time missed from work due to your injury.
- Pain and suffering caused by the dog bite or dog attack.
- Disfigurement, like scarring.
- Mental anguish (all the bad emotions you feel because of the bite or attack and your injuries).
- Inconvenience (how your injuries affect your life on a daily basis).
What Are the Possible Defenses to a Dog Bite or Dog Attack Case?
Virginia dog bite law allows for contributory negligence as a possible defense in a dog bite case. This means if you were bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog, but you provoked the dog, maybe by mocking or teasing it, or if your own dog caused or contributed to a dog fight, it may be that you do not have a viable claim against the owner of the other dog. This is why, if you are the victim of a dog bite or attack, it’s important for you to file a police report, get the contact information of the owner and any witness, and take photographs of the dog, your injuries, and the surrounding location and talk to an attorney who is experienced in handling dog bite and dog attack cases to determine if you have a viable claim.
Contact Our Law Firm For Help with Your Dog Bite Case
If you were bitten or attacked by somebody’s dog, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation at (703) 813-6460.