Virginia, unlike many states, does not have a specific dog bite statute, but instead follows a one bite rule, under which a dog’s owner can only be held liable for injuries caused by their animal if they knew or should have known that the dog had aggressive tendencies. Fortunately, legal responsibility is not just limited to dog bites, so even if a dog didn’t bite anyone, but jumped on someone, knocking her down and causing an injury, that individual could still file a claim against the animal’s owner under Virginia law.
The lack of a specific state law regarding dog bite and animal attack liability in Virginia can make recovering compensation for these types of accidents particularly complicated, so if you or a loved one were recently injured by someone else’s animal, it is important to contact an experienced Charlottesville dog bite lawyer who can advise you throughout the process.
The One Bite Rule
Under the one bite rule, dog bite victims can only recover compensation from an animal’s owner if they can demonstrate that the dog had either bitten or attacked another person or animal on a previous occasion or had otherwise exhibited aggressive behavior. For example, if a dog snapped or lunged at another person or animal before, that evidence would be enough to demonstrate aggressive tendencies and so negate the one bite rule. This is much different than the strict liability dog bite laws in most states, under which a dog’s owner can be held liable for injuring someone even if he or she didn’t have any knowledge that the animal was aggressive.
Even if a dog had never injured another person or animal prior to hurting someone, its owner can still be held liable for bite-related damages if the injured party can prove that:
- The owner had a duty to use reasonable care to restrain the animal; and
- The owner’s failure to fulfill this responsibility resulted in the victim’s injury.
A person’s case will be especially strong if he or she can point to a specific law that the owner violated. For instance, many cities require dog owners to leash their animals when walking in public parks. If a person were bitten by someone else’s dog while jogging in the park and the animal was not on a leash, the injured party could present a strong case that the dog’s failure to comply with a city ordinance was the cause of the bite. If successful in arguing this claim, the plaintiff would not need to provide any further evidence of negligence in order to recover damages.
Monetary Recovery After a Dog Bite
Dog bite injuries, whether they involve lacerations, punctures, broken bones, or infection can result in significant pain and suffering for victims, many of whom are forced to undergo complex treatments, including surgical repair of tendons, muscles, and ligaments, as well as struggle with rehabilitation and physical therapy. These problems are often only exacerbated by financial strain, as many injured parties are forced to take time off from work while they heal. Fortunately, those who can demonstrate that a dog’s owner knew that his or her animal was violent, or that some other type of negligence on the owner’s part led to the injury, could be entitled to compensation not only for related medical expenses, but also for lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, emotional distress and trauma, and permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Reach Out to a Charlottesville Dog Bite Lawyer
If you were injured by someone else’s animal, have obtained medical care, and have questions about your own legal options for recovering compensation, please contact dedicated Charlottesville dog bite attorney Herbert E. Maxey, Jr. at 434-969-4873 today.