Dogs bite an estimated 4.5 million people are each year in America, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Many of these incidents cause severe harm requiring hospitalization and reconstructive surgery. In 2013, 31 people died as a result of dog-related injuries. Sadly, many of these attacks are completely preventable.
When dogs attack people, the victim can file a claim against the owner to recover his or her financial and emotional damages. If a dog recently harmed you or your loved one, we would encourage you to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Dog Attacks Are Often Preventable
According to a comprehensive study published in the December 2013 issue of The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the vast majority of dog attacks are preventable. The Association found that four or more of the following (preventable) contributing factors are present in more than 80 percent of the cases they reviewed.
- There was no able-bodied person around to intervene. (87.1 percent)
- The dogs were not spayed/neutered. (84.4 percent)
- The victim had no familiarity with the dog. (85.2 percent)
- The victim had a compromised ability to handle the situation appropriately, such as in the case of a child, an elderly person or a disabled person. (77.4 percent)
- The dogs were kept isolated from regular positive human interactions, as opposed to integrated family dogs. (76.2 percent)
- The owner mismanaged the dog in the past. (37.5 percent)
- The owner abused or neglected the dogs. (21.1 percent)
Filing a Dog Bite Injury Claim
Dog bites often cause deep and severe wounds — both physical and emotional. Facial wounds, crushing injuries and damage to veins and muscles are not uncommon. Dog bite injuries are very susceptible to infections, and victims may have to undergo surgeries to repair the damage to the internal structures or the skin. Furthermore, dog attacks are extremely traumatic, causing many victims to develop long-term emotional damages including societal anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Victims have the right to file a negligence claim against the owner to recover damages. If you win the claim, you can obtain a financial settlement to recover medical expenses, future treatments, lost wages, disability, disfigurement and emotional damages. Your first step of filing a dog bite injury claim is to discuss your attack with a dog bite injury attorney. Your attorney can explain the claims process to you, help collect evidence to support your case and take legal action to pursue the maximum allowable compensation.
Dog Bite Laws in Washington and Oregon
Each state provides its rules regarding the rights and responsibilities of dog owners and dog bite victims. Washington holds dog owners strictly liable for the harm their dogs cause. This means that if a dog attacks and harms someone, even if the dog had no history of being vicious, then the owner can be held liable for the victim’s damages.
Oregon is similar to its dog bite statutes but adds a burden of proof on the victims. In Oregon, owners are liable for “econmic damages” like medical bills, loss of income and earning cacacity if they negligently fail to control or confine their dog in violation of local ordiances. However, in order for a victim to collect emotional, non-economic damages, he or she must show that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity to act dangerously or aggressively.
Of course, in most cases, dog owners will argue that the victim provoked the attack. All efforts will be made to discredit your claim. This is why you’ll want to work with an attorney to prepare and present your case. For help with a dog bite claim in Washington or Oregon, you are welcome to call our firm, Willis & Toews. Our attorneys know how to handle these cases with care and diligence. We foresee and preempt any baseless counterclaims the owners’ lawyers may make. Call us today at 509-529-0908 for a free consultation.