We love dogs and treat them like family, but sometimes, dogs can exhibit aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, these behaviors can lead to dog bites and other accidents. If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury, you have legal rights.
After a dog bite incident, a Richmond dog bite lawyer can help build your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
What Happens If Your Dog Bites Someone in Virginia?
When it comes to dog bites, most states use strict liability. Strict liability will hold a dog owner strictly liable whether or not they had any knowledge of their dog’s aggressive tendencies. However, this is not the case in Virginia. Virginia operates under the “one-bite rule.” The one-bite rule provides that a dog owner will be held liable only if their dog has previously bitten someone or they had prior knowledge of their dog’s aggressive behaviors.
A dog owner can be held liable for injuries other than dog bites. If, for example, a dog is chasing you and you trip on an uneven sidewalk while running away from the dog, the dog’s owner may be responsible for your injuries.
Establishing Liability in Dog Bite Cases
If a dog owner had no prior knowledge of their dog’s vicious tendencies, the victim has to establish that the owner was negligent in not restraining their dog. To establish negligence, the victim will have to prove:
- The dog owner owed the dog bite victim a duty of care;
- The dog owner breached this duty;
- The breach caused the incident; and
- The incident resulted in injuries.
In other cases, a dog bite victim may be able to establish negligence per se. Negligence per se exists where an injury results from someone violating a statute. The violation of the statute is sufficient to show a breach of duty on its own with no need for further proof. For example, a city might have an ordinance that requires a dog to be leashed when off the owner’s property. However, a dog owner might decide to walk their dog around the neighborhood unleashed anyway. If the dog takes off after the victim and bites them, the dog bite victim can then argue that the dog owner is liable under negligence per se.
When Should You See a Doctor After a Dog Bite?
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a dog bite. If the bite is severe, go to the emergency room or call 911. If the dog bite is less serious, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can.
Unfortunately, you can suffer complications from a dog bite. Some of the most common complications include:
- Nerve damage,
- Rabies, and
The sooner you seek medical help, the less your chances of complications. Even if you don’t believe the bite caused any significant injury, you should still see your doctor soon after the accident.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive for a Dog Bite?
The amount of damages you can recover for a dog bite varies from case to case. It will depend on the severity of the injury, the amount of medical bills, and any other damage the dog bite caused. Damages you may seek in a dog bite case are separated into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are damages that are easy to calculate. They include:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages, or
- Loss of earning capacity.
These types of damages are quantifiable and proven with supporting documentation.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate. They include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish,
- Disfigurement, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Because these damages don’t reflect a precise dollar figure, you will need help from a Richmond dog bite lawyer. Your attorney will know how to calculate your non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are a special type of damages not often awarded. A judge will assess punitive damages to punish and deter a defendant if their actions were egregious or exhibited a conscious disregard for others’ wellbeing.
Virginia caps punitive damages at $350,000.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Lawsuit Take?
The time your lawsuit takes to resolve will depend on your particular circumstances. There is no average time for dog bite lawsuits. Certain factors may affect the length of your case, including:
- The severity of your injuries;
- Recovery time; and
- Settlement negotiations.
Your Richmond dog bite lawyer will handle your case from start to finish, working diligently to get you a swift resolution and fair compensation.
Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Virginia?
If you’ve suffered a dog bite and seek medical treatment, there are protocols physicians must follow. Doctors and medical practitioners must report dog bites to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). You should also notify Richmond Animal Care and Control to ensure others will be safe from the animal.
Consult a Richmond Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, do not hesitate to contact a Virginia dog bite attorney. Dog bite cases can be tricky to navigate, but an experienced attorney will handle your case to help ensure you receive the damages you deserve.River Run Law is a boutique law firm located in Richmond, Virginia. We provide legal representation to injured victims when they need it most. Our team aims to fight aggressively for clients’ rights while showing the kindness and compassion they need during a challenging time. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. Contact us today, and let’s see how our firm can help you.