Safety and Health Reporter

Dog Bites

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Dog Bites

Brien Roche

Dog bites and animal bites produce a host of severe injuries. For instance, emotional injury, infections, painful cuts and scarring. If you have been bitten, call us for a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney.

Local laws govern dog owners in terms of taking dogs out onto public streets and sidewalks. Most areas have leash laws. These laws require that dogs be leashed. However there are some cases where a dog does not have to be on a leash.

Dog Bites:What to do if you have been the victim

  • Get prompt medical treatment.
  • Identify the animal and its owner.
  • Report the incident to the local police.
  • Obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses.
  • If you have contact with the animal’s owner, obtain information about who insures them.
  • Take photos of the injuries and, if pertinent, photos of where the incident occurred.

Things To Investigate As To Dog Attacks

In looking at a case like this it is important to know a host of different things:

  • Info about the dog’s current home.
  • The nature of the dog’s prior home.
  • History of owners of the dog. 
  • Any comments from neighbors of the dog.
  • Records from animal control.
  • Any records from dog trainers, boarders or groomers.
  • Any records from the American Kennel Club.
  • Vet records.
  • A thorough inspection of the dog’s current home looking for evidence of the dog being aggressive in terms of furniture or household items being chewed on by the dog.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Legal Theories as to Dog Bites

There are a number of legal theories to pursue in a dog bite case:

  • Negligence.  Many dog bite cases do not result from a dangerous dog but rather from a negligent person.  For instance putting a friendly dog in a daycare center or around children may be negligence.  Exposing a dog with a painful injury to people may be negligence.  Therefore the blame may have to be placed with the owner in that case.  Even though the dog may be a good dog, if the dog is in the wrong place where a bite may be likely, that may be negligence. Proof of fault may also exist in the owner’s knowledge of prior conduct of the dog. In addition the mere fact that the dog belongs to a particular breed known for aggressive conduct may mean the owner had notice to beware.
  • Negligence per se.  These claims are most often based on the violation of a local leash law requiring that the dog be on a leash.
  • Negligent entrustment.  Allowing your neighbor’s 11 year old son to walk a dog that the child cannot control may be negligence.
  • Premises liability.  A landlord may be liable if the landlord allows a dog to remain on the premises where that dog has a history of having bitten other people. The landlord in that case may have to take action.
  • Dog Bites and Court Action

    As part of handling a dog bite claim you may have to seek a court order to compel the owner to keep the dog inside or to in some way restrain the dog. In addition you may have to get a court order to have the dog examined and/or properly vaccinated. In those areas where there is an animal control officer then this person may take care of these things.

    Dog attacks can invoke many types of laws.  Some areas have leash laws.  Others have strict liability laws relating to dog attacks and dog bites

    As such it is critical to know both the local and state ordinances or statutes that may apply. 

    Defenses in Dog Bite Cases

    There are many defenses to these claims.  One of the more common defenses is provocation.  Any evidence of abusing, tormenting or teasing the dog may be provocation.  Likewise, evidence that the plaintiff was a trespasser may bar the claim. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

    Dog Bites Involving Children

    Children are the most common victims of serious dog bites. They make up almost one-third of emergency room visits for dog bites.  In these types of cases there are several factors that you must look at:

    Later conduct

    If the defendants engaged in any retaliation against the child that may be relevant.  Retaliation may come in the form of letting the dog loose on the street. In addition it may come in the form of letting the dog out in the yard at a time when the defendant knows or should know that the child may be out there.  If these are the facts then a punitive damage claim may be called for.

    Family or Friends

    In cases where the party at fault is family or friend the argument should be made that the relationship created a greater duty for the defendant to protect the child.  In addition the fact that the defendant is a family member or friend increases the emotional injury to the child.

    Child Witnesses

    Many of your witnesses may be other children.  If this is the case then you should videotape these young witnesses giving a statement within days of the injury. This is a way to preserve their recall of what happened.  You must show that the child saw the attack, understands what it means to tell the truth and is telling the truth.

    Provoked

    In many cases there may be a defense raised of provocation.  If this defense applies then you must find out if the dog had any condition that may have made it more likely to attack. For instance, is the dog injured, unhealthy or have any history of biting.

    Parent Control

    Lack of parental control may be a factor.  This defense is going to be keyed to the facts of your case.  You may see this defense where the dog is in a pool with children. The argument may be made that the child’s parents should have pulled the child out of the pool to keep the child away from the dog.  However that argument is a two edged sword in that it can also be used against the defendant to argue that the dog should not have been in the pool area.

    Child In Care Of Another

    If the child is injured by a third party’s dog while in the care of that person then there may be a claim under Section 44 of the Third Restatement of Torts. This states that where one person takes charge of another who is helpless or unable to protect himself then that person has a duty to exercise reasonable care. This duty of care applies while the child was within that person’s charge.  The argument may apply that the defendant was doubly at fault. The fault may arise from being the dog’s owner and also being the person taking care of the child.

    If you have been the victim of a dog bite, contact us.

    For a review of Virginia case law on animals see the highlighted phrase. Also see the pages on Wikipedia.

    Comments are closed.

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation

    Dog Bites

    Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Dog Bites

    Brien Roche

    Dog bites and animal bites produce a host of severe injuries. For instance, emotional injury, infections, painful cuts and scarring. If you have been bitten, call us for a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney.

    Local laws govern dog owners in terms of taking dogs out onto public streets and sidewalks. Most areas have leash laws. These laws require that dogs be leashed. However there are some cases where a dog does not have to be on a leash.

    Dog Bites:What to do if you have been the victim

    • Get prompt medical treatment.
    • Identify the animal and its owner.
    • Report the incident to the local police.
    • Obtain the names and addresses of any witnesses.
    • If you have contact with the animal’s owner, obtain information about who insures them.
    • Take photos of the injuries and, if pertinent, photos of where the incident occurred.

    Things To Investigate As To Dog Attacks

    In looking at a case like this it is important to know a host of different things:

    • Info about the dog’s current home.
    • The nature of the dog’s prior home.
    • History of owners of the dog. 
    • Any comments from neighbors of the dog.
    • Records from animal control.
    • Any records from dog trainers, boarders or groomers.
    • Any records from the American Kennel Club.
    • Vet records.
    • A thorough inspection of the dog’s current home looking for evidence of the dog being aggressive in terms of furniture or household items being chewed on by the dog.

    Call, or contact us for a free consult.

    Legal Theories as to Dog Bites

    There are a number of legal theories to pursue in a dog bite case:

  • Negligence.  Many dog bite cases do not result from a dangerous dog but rather from a negligent person.  For instance putting a friendly dog in a daycare center or around children may be negligence.  Exposing a dog with a painful injury to people may be negligence.  Therefore the blame may have to be placed with the owner in that case.  Even though the dog may be a good dog, if the dog is in the wrong place where a bite may be likely, that may be negligence. Proof of fault may also exist in the owner’s knowledge of prior conduct of the dog. In addition the mere fact that the dog belongs to a particular breed known for aggressive conduct may mean the owner had notice to beware.
  • Negligence per se.  These claims are most often based on the violation of a local leash law requiring that the dog be on a leash.
  • Negligent entrustment.  Allowing your neighbor’s 11 year old son to walk a dog that the child cannot control may be negligence.
  • Premises liability.  A landlord may be liable if the landlord allows a dog to remain on the premises where that dog has a history of having bitten other people. The landlord in that case may have to take action.
  • Dog Bites and Court Action

    As part of handling a dog bite claim you may have to seek a court order to compel the owner to keep the dog inside or to in some way restrain the dog. In addition you may have to get a court order to have the dog examined and/or properly vaccinated. In those areas where there is an animal control officer then this person may take care of these things.

    Dog attacks can invoke many types of laws.  Some areas have leash laws.  Others have strict liability laws relating to dog attacks and dog bites

    As such it is critical to know both the local and state ordinances or statutes that may apply. 

    Defenses in Dog Bite Cases

    There are many defenses to these claims.  One of the more common defenses is provocation.  Any evidence of abusing, tormenting or teasing the dog may be provocation.  Likewise, evidence that the plaintiff was a trespasser may bar the claim. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

    Dog Bites Involving Children

    Children are the most common victims of serious dog bites. They make up almost one-third of emergency room visits for dog bites.  In these types of cases there are several factors that you must look at:

    Later conduct

    If the defendants engaged in any retaliation against the child that may be relevant.  Retaliation may come in the form of letting the dog loose on the street. In addition it may come in the form of letting the dog out in the yard at a time when the defendant knows or should know that the child may be out there.  If these are the facts then a punitive damage claim may be called for.

    Family or Friends

    In cases where the party at fault is family or friend the argument should be made that the relationship created a greater duty for the defendant to protect the child.  In addition the fact that the defendant is a family member or friend increases the emotional injury to the child.

    Child Witnesses

    Many of your witnesses may be other children.  If this is the case then you should videotape these young witnesses giving a statement within days of the injury. This is a way to preserve their recall of what happened.  You must show that the child saw the attack, understands what it means to tell the truth and is telling the truth.

    Provoked

    In many cases there may be a defense raised of provocation.  If this defense applies then you must find out if the dog had any condition that may have made it more likely to attack. For instance, is the dog injured, unhealthy or have any history of biting.

    Parent Control

    Lack of parental control may be a factor.  This defense is going to be keyed to the facts of your case.  You may see this defense where the dog is in a pool with children. The argument may be made that the child’s parents should have pulled the child out of the pool to keep the child away from the dog.  However that argument is a two edged sword in that it can also be used against the defendant to argue that the dog should not have been in the pool area.

    Child In Care Of Another

    If the child is injured by a third party’s dog while in the care of that person then there may be a claim under Section 44 of the Third Restatement of Torts. This states that where one person takes charge of another who is helpless or unable to protect himself then that person has a duty to exercise reasonable care. This duty of care applies while the child was within that person’s charge.  The argument may apply that the defendant was doubly at fault. The fault may arise from being the dog’s owner and also being the person taking care of the child.

    If you have been the victim of a dog bite, contact us.

    For a review of Virginia case law on animals see the highlighted phrase. Also see the pages on Wikipedia.

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation