Am I liable for my dog attacking another person?

Seattle is known to have many dog owners. There are pet-friendly businesses all around the State. Everyone and everything is pet-friendly these days. But what happens when a Seattlelite gets bitten by a canine? Washington state law is fairly clear.

A  dog attack can be very serious even if it is from a small dog. Dog bites may result in serious injuries. If a dog attacks another person, the owner is legally responsible for that attack. What’s the first thing you should do if you are a victim of a dog attack?

Seek medical attention! Tend to any bites, cuts, or scrapes immediately. The next step is to call Seattle Animal control or 911. An animal control officer will investigate the situation. A bite investigation doesn’t automatically mean the dog is impounded – it may only mean that vaccination and licenses are verified. This helps protect public health and safety.

When calling to report an incident, have as much information as possible, including a description of the animal and owner, the address of owner, and/or the license plate of the owner’s vehicle.

The State law regarding dog attacks is in the Revised Code of Washington, in particular, Section 16.08.040.

“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

Basically, if you own a dog, you are strictly liable for any injuries your canine causes to another person.. The owner doesn’t have to be aware of any dangerous tendencies on their dog’s part in order to be held strictly liable for your injuries under the statute. However, if you are trespassing in order to commit a crime, or provoking the dog, you’ll very likely be out of luck and probably won’t be able to hold the owner “strictly liable.”

In Washington, a landlord is protected from dog bite liability – landlords generally cannot be held responsible for their tenant’s dangerous animals. The only case in which a landlord can be liable for a dog attack is if he or she is the owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog. More on that below.

In some states, there is a “one bite rule.” You may have heard about this rule. The one bite rule states that if a dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner can’t be held liable for their dog’s “first bite.” Washington State has a “one bite rule” that basically says if a dog has a history of viciousness or violence, then the owner or keeper of the animal is liable for that animal’s actions.

Why is this important? Mostly because of the language of the law. The strict liability statute we mentioned above only applies to dog owners. Under the “one bite” rule, someone who is a keeper or harborer of a dog can also be held liable if he or she has knowledge the dog was dangerous. Even if the harborer or keeper didn’t know the dog was dangerous, if you can prove the owner or harborer was negligent in preventing the attack, he or she can be held liable for your injuries.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

Leave a reply