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Dog Bite Attorneys in Vancouver

When dogs bite or attack, they can cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to lacerations, broken bones and life-threatening infections. Young children and the elderly are at especially high risk for serious injury. 

The Vancouver dog bite attorneys at Rizk Law are available to discuss what to do after you or a friend or family member gets injured by a dog. You may be eligible to pursue compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and more.

We know how to build cases against dog owners in Washington State. Our firm has helped many injury victims recover favorable compensation. The sooner you contact us, the more time we will have to investigate and gather evidence.

Senior attorney and founder Richard Rizk resolved more than $15 million in claims and has been licensed to practice law in Washington State since 2015.

There is no obligation to take action after meeting with us for a free legal consultation. We also take cases on contingency, so there are no fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Rizk Law. Millions Recovered. Ph: 503.245.5677.  

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help Me?

You may not know that personal injury victims who seek legal counsel are more likely to obtain more compensation than those who do not hire legal help.

Our lawyers at Rizk Law have many years of experience advocating for injury victims and their families. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We are well-versed in dog bite laws and understand what it takes to build a strong case against a dog owner. Should your claim have merit, our lawyers are prepared to guide you throughout the legal process and keep you informed every step of the way.

As a former insurance defense and coverage lawyer, firm founder Richard Rizk knows how insurance company attorneys and adjusters think. We know the tactics they often use to try to get you to say you were at fault or say something that hurts your credibility. They are looking for any way to delay, devalue or deny claims.

An initial consultation with us is free and there is no obligation to retain our services. At the end of the day, we want you to focus on what matters most – your health and recovery.

Washington Law on Dog Bite Claims

Some states make it difficult to hold a dog owner liable for a bite or attack. In some states, owners are not liable unless they knew or should have known the dog was dangerous.

However, under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 16.08.040, owners are liable for damages from dog bites that occur on public or private property, regardless of the viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of viciousness.

As long as the victim had a legal right to be on the property, the owner is liable for the victim's damages. This is why the at-fault party or his or her attorneys may argue you did not have a right to be on the property, maybe by saying you were trespassing.

Another section of the law clarifies what is meant by being lawfully on the property at the time of the attack. You have this status if you are there with the express or implied permission of the owner. However, you cannot presume to have consent when the owner's property is fenced in.

Claims From Trespassers

It is unlikely a trespasser would be able to obtain compensation for a dog bite injury. That being said, if you have questions about whether you may have a valid claim, you could benefit from talking to a licensed attorney.

What if the Dog Was Off its Leash?

In Vancouver, dogs must always be on a leash when outside their owner’s property, unless they are in a designated off-lease dog park. Here is a list of off-leash dog parks in the county.  

Provoking the Dog as a Defense

The at-fault party may try to claim you provoked the dog to avoid liability for your damages. Under state law, if the owner can provide proof the dog was provoked, it is a complete defense from liability.

What if it Was My Friend’s Dog?

You can still seek compensation if you knew the owner and the dog, provided you were legally allowed to be on the property. While you may be apprehensive about filing a claim against your friend, your lawyer will probably be filing a claim against your friend’s insurance company.

If you have questions about your dog bite claim, call today to talk to a licensed attorney.

What is a Dangerous Dog in Washington?

Although you do not need to prove a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous to recover compensation, Washington has laws on dangerous dogs.

Under RCW 16.08.070(1), a potentially dangerous dog is one that fits one of the following criteria:

  • Bites a human or domestic animal on public or private property without being provoked
  • Chases or approaches a person on the streets, sidewalks or public property in a menacing way or with an apparent attitude of attack without being provoked
  • Has a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack without being provoked, to cause injury or threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals

A dangerous dog is one that:

  • Causes severe injury to a human being on public or private property without being provoked
  • Kills a domestic animal while off the owner’s property, without being provoked
  • Was found to be potentially dangerous because it inflicted injury on a human and the owner was notified of it

Dangerous dogs must have a proper enclosure when on the owner’s property. The dog must be securely confined inside or in a securely locked pen or structure to keep out young children and prevent the animal from escaping. There must secure sides, a secure top and protection from the elements.

It is against the law to have a dangerous dog without a certificate of registration. The owner is also required to have a conspicuously displayed sign with a warning symbol that alerts children to the dangerous dog. Owners must also buy a surety bond from an insurance company in a form accepted by the animal control authority – the bond must be worth at least $250,000 to cover personal injuries caused by the dog

If you were attacked by a dangerous dog, our Vancouver dog bite lawyers may be able to pursue compensation from this surety bond for your injuries.

Call  503.245.5677 for a free legal consultation.

Damages Available for Dog Bite Victims

Your injuries could result in mounting medical costs, extensive treatment, and missed work hours while in recovery. 

Generally, dog bite victims could be eligible to recover economic and noneconomic damages, such as:

  • Medical bills for treatment of your injuries (stitches, surgery, etc.)
  • Medications to control pain or cure an infection
  • Loss of wages from an inability to work
  • Loss of future earning capacity if unable to work in the same capacity as before
  • Physical pain and mental suffering
  • Permanent scarring, disfigurement or nerve damage
  • Physical therapy to help with lost range of motion
  • Counseling services for post traumatic stress

Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Claim

Many dog bite claims are resolved with insurance companies, which often have their own deadlines for submitting claims. That is why it is important not to delay contacting a lawyer for assistance.

If our lawyers need to file a lawsuit on your behalf, Washington has a statute of limitations. You typically have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. If you file after that point, your lawsuit is likely to be dismissed by the court.

There are sometimes exceptions to this standard deadline, and our Vancouver personal injury lawyers are ready to help you determine the time limit that may apply to your claim.

Reporting a Dog Bite

If you are attacked by a dog, it is important to report it to the authorities. Not only does this help create a record of the attack, it allows the authorities to take steps to help protect others from the dog that bit you.

In addition to reporting the attack, take pictures of your injuries and the scene. If others witnessed the attack, ask them for their contact information. Your Vancouver dog bite lawyer can contact them later to find out what they saw and how it may help build a case against the owner.

Reasons Why Dogs Attack

Some breeds of dogs are considered more dangerous than others. For example, pit bulls and rottweilers account for a large number of fatalities from dog bites or attacks each year. Other potentially dangerous breeds include:

  • German shepherd
  • American bulldog
  • Husky
  • Boxer
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Labrador retriever
  • Mastiff

Sometimes dogs are aggressive because they have been abused by their owners. Other times dogs bite when they are playing with their owners and they think it is OK to do with other people.

Other reasons for biting can include:

  • Possessiveness – Dogs feel a strong urge to protect their owners, property, toys, food and territory. This can result in aggressive behavior toward people.
  • Fear of strangers – It is instinct for dogs to lash out at strangers or people who sneak up on them.
  • Maternal instinct – You should be very careful handling puppies because the mother could become angry if she thinks a puppy is in danger.
  • Provoking the dog – You should never taunt or do anything that could provoke a dog, such as taunting or pulling on its tail.

Types of Injuries from Dog Bites

A dog bite can cause severe or possibly permanent injury, depending on the location of the bite and the size of the dog. Injuries can include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and smaller cuts
  • Bruises
  • Sprains and other soft-tissue injuries
  • Brain injuries, from the dog pulling you down to the ground during the attack

If you get bit by a dog, you can take immediate steps to try to stabilize the bite, such as placing a clean towel over the wound, washing it with soap and water and applying a bandage.

However, no matter how minor the injury appears to be, the dog could have been carrying an infection like rabies or cellulitis. It is best to err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical care. This way all your injuries can be treated and diagnosed.

Find out how we can help by calling 503.245.5677.

Preventing Dog Bites

To avoid being bitten by a dog, Animal Protection and Control in Clark County offers several safety tips when encountering a dog and what to do if a dog suddenly attacks.

Ask the dog owner first if it is OK to pet their dog. Allow the dog to smell you and then proceed to gently pet the dog’s sides or back. It is important to never sneak up on a dog while it is eating or sleeping as you could startle or frighten it.

If a dog does attack, it is vital that you remain calm, still, quiet and avoid eye contact. Avoid turning your back or running away because a dog’s instinct will be to chase and try to catch you. In the event you have fallen or are knocked to the ground, do your best not to scream or move around. Curl into a ball and use your arms to protect your neck and the back of your head.

Using a jacket or anything on you to cover the dog’s head may also create enough distraction for the dog to lose interest and leave you alone.

Contact a Vancouver Dog Bite Lawyer for Legal Help

Have you been bitten or attacked by a dog?

You should consider meeting with a Vancouver dog bite lawyer for a free legal consultation. We may be able to pursue compensation for the economic and noneconomic damages you have suffered, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and physical pain and mental suffering.

There is a time limit for taking legal action, so it is best to contact us as soon as possible to review your situation and determine if you have grounds for a claim. Our initial consultations are free and we take dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay us unless you are compensated.

Rizk Law. No Upfront Fees. Ph: 503.245.5677.