Dog Bites and Your Rights

Dog Bite
Photo credit: Takashi(aes256) via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA


Pets can be such docile and loyal creatures that sometimes it’s easy to forget that our furry companions are living beings with the capacity to defend themselves if they feel threatened or provoked. Unfortunately, every year dog bites are the source of both injury and (rarely) deaths to humans. Here are some statistics on the subject:

  • The CDC reports over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year.
  • Of these bites, roughly 1 in 5 need medical care.
  • Children are the most common dog bite victims by a significant margin, followed by the elderly.

Obviously, these statistics are alarming. The good news is that Washington State dog attack law is highly favorable to victims due to state statues that place strict liability for dog bites on the owner of the dog (as well as those who harbor, keep or are otherwise negligent with dogs.) One exception is that, unlike some states, Washington generally protects landlords from dog bite liability (unless of course the landlord is also the owner of the dog.)

Washington common law also allows holds a dog owner liable for injury caused by his or her animals even if the injury was not caused by a bite. In that case, if the animal’s owner is negligent in failing to control the animal so that it did not injure a person, the owner can be held liable for the harm. This includes cases where an animal jumps up on a person and knocks the person down, chases a person without biting the person or runs into a road causing a bicycle, vehicle or motorcycle accident.

Have you or someone you loved been bitten or injured by a dog or other animal? f so, it is in your best interest to contact one of Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel’s top-rated attorneys immediately to consult about your health, safety, and legal options.