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Bellevue Dog Bite Lawyer
The state of Washington has many breed-specific laws concerning dogs in different areas of the state. These laws generally ban the ownership of pit bulls or other “dangerous” breeds. However, the reality is that any dog can potentially bite someone and cause serious injuries. When these incidents occur, injured Bellevue, WA residents should know their rights and legal options.
Colburn Law has helped many past clients secure compensation for their damages resulting from dog bites, so contact our firm today to learn more about how we can help.
Dog Attack Information & Resource Center
- Dog Bite Laws
- Bellevue, WA Local Dog Ordinances
- How to Sue for Dog Bite Injury in WA
- Dog Attack Damages & Compensation
- Proving Dog Bite Liability in Washington
- Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Injuries
- FREE CONSULTATION: Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer in Bellevue
Washington Dog Bite Laws
Like many states, Washington has special liability rules when it comes to dog bites. Washington follows a strict liability system, which means that a dog owner may face liability for the first time his or her dog bites another person — even if the owner was not aware of the attack and did not have reason to believe that the dog would bite a person.
Other states follow the one-bite rule for dog bite claims. This rule states that an owner must know or have reason to know that his or her dog had the potential to be dangerous at the time of the attack. If the owner did not have reason to believe this or the victim cannot prove that he or she did, the victim cannot hold the owner liable for his or her damages.
However, the strict liability rule does not ensure that your dog bite claim will be successful. The dog’s owner may employ several strategies to dismiss your case or reduce your chances at collecting the compensation you need to recover, including the following.
● The owner may claim that you were trespassing or had no legal right to be in the place where the dog bite occurred. For example, if you entered the owner’s home without his or her knowledge and the dog attacked you, you will not have the right to file a lawsuit against him or her. You can combat this claim by proving that you had the legal right to be on the property at the time of the attack.
● The owner may also claim that you provoked the dog to attack you in some way. For example, if you were teasing or throwing objects at the dog prior to the attack, the owner could claim that those actions led the dog to attack. You can combat this claim by providing witness statements, surveillance footage, and other pieces of evidence.
Breed-Specific Dog Laws in Washington
Many cities, towns, and counties in Washington have laws that ban specific dog breeds that have the potential to cause severe injury or even death when they attack a human. Many of these dogs are responsible for hundreds of deaths and maulings throughout the country.
● Auburn bans all fighting dog breeds that are potentially dangerous, such as the bull terrier, Dogo argentino, and the Japanese akita.
● Bridgeport, Buckley, Enumclaw, Othello, Rosalia, and many other Washington cities ban pit bulls.
● Brewster requires that all pit bull owners sterilize their dogs.
● Wapato bans pit bulls, rottweilers, American bulldogs, and all mastiffs.
Bellevue, WA Local Dog Ordinances
The city of Bellevue follows all dog bite laws that the state of Washington sets forth, including the strict liability rule for dog bite cases. In addition, Bellevue has a leashing ordinance in effect to prevent dog bite injuries to its residents.
According to the Bellevue City Code 8.05.030, dog owners are prohibited from allowing their animals to be at large, or unleashed or without restraints. The only exceptions to this rule are for dogs who are engaged in lawful activities, such as obedience training, hunting, competitions, search and rescue, or training for these activities. This law also does not apply to dogs in off-leash areas.
How Do I Sue For a Dog Bite Injury?
In Washington, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for the injuries you sustained as a result of a dog bite. To claim this compensation, you will need to file a lawsuit in Washington civil court and work closely with your attorney to craft a compelling case in your favor.
Many dog bite cases settle outside of the courtroom during a negotiation period. If you and the dog owner cannot come to a conclusion during this period, or the owner refuses to negotiate, your case will proceed to trial and
In the wake of a dog attack, handling your own lawsuit can be an overwhelming and complex process. Not only do you need to recover from your injuries, but you will need to navigate the Washington court system, file the correct paperwork, investigate and collect all possible pieces of evidence, and craft a case that proves that you deserve compensation for your injuries.
In these situations, contact Colburn Law as soon as possible. Our firm can provide a number of benefits for your case, including the following.
● Our firm has significant experience working in Bellevue courts and with dog bite victims. We will handle all the necessary paperwork to file your lawsuit so you can focus on your recovery.
● Calculating damages in dog bite cases can be difficult without legal assistance, and accepting a lower settlement than what you need can impede your healing. Your attorney will help you understand which damages you qualify for and can evaluate any settlement offers you receive.
● We understand the intricacies of Washington’s strict liability laws and the potential defenses that an owner may bring to the courtroom. Our firm will work diligently to build the strongest case possible for your settlement.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
A dog bite is usually painful, but there are many other possible ways a dog can cause injury. Many dogs, especially larger breeds, have powerful jaws that cause puncture wounds, crushing wounds, and even break bones with the force of a bite. Larger dogs can easily knock a person to the ground, potentially causing bone fractures, spinal damage, or traumatic brain injuries.
Washington law uses different standards for dog-related injury claims involving bites and other dog-related injuries, such as a dog knocking a person to the ground, but without biting. Unlike other states that follow a “one bite” rule, Washington enforces strict liability, meaning dog owners are completely liable for the injuries and damages their pets cause to others. In a dog bite case, the only available defenses for the dog owner are trespassing and provocation. The owner can avoid liability if he or she can prove the victim was illegally trespassing on private property or somehow provoked the dog into attacking, such as by intentionally injuring it.
For cases involving non-bite injuries, Washington uses the negligence standard. The plaintiff must be able to prove the dog’s owner was negligent in his or her handling or care of the dog or allowed the dog to escape the owner’s property. Plaintiffs in dog injury lawsuits can secure many types of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses. A dog bite is a serious injury requiring immediate medical attention, and secondary injuries from falls or the dog’s claws will require treatment, as well. The plaintiff can claim compensation for all medical expenses resulting from the dog attack.
- Pain and suffering. Dog bites are very painful, and the plaintiff may require surgery and extensive recovery time. A dog attack can also be a traumatic experience, and plaintiffs can receive compensation for their physical pain and mental distress following a dog attack.
- Property damage. If the dog attack damaged or destroyed any of the victim’s personal property, such as expensive glasses or a smartphone, the plaintiff can claim the cost of repairing or replacing these items as damages.
- Lost income. An injury from a dog attack may cause serious injuries that necessitate a lengthy recovery time, during which the victim may be unable to work. It’s also possible for traumatic injuries to the hands, arms, face, or legs to cause permanent disability and limit the plaintiff’s future earning capacity.
Proving Dog Bite Liability in Washington
Since Washington is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite lawsuits, it is not necessary for you to prove that the dog had a history of aggressive behavior or the owner knew or should have known about this behavior in order for you to file a lawsuit. You also do not have to prove that the dog owner was negligent at the time of the attack.
However, you will need to combat any potential defenses that the dog owner will use to defend him or herself. Perhaps he or she claims that you provoked his or her dog, leading to the attack. The owner may also falsely claim you were trespassing.
Colburn Law will work closely with you to build a strong case for your compensation. We will collect all relevant pieces of evidence to prove your claim and defend yourself against these potential allegations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Injuries?
Washington imposes a statute of limitations on all lawsuits filed in civil court. The statute of limitations sets a deadline by which you must file your case, or the court will refuse to hear it. The purpose of these deadlines is to ensure that the evidence in your case is still fresh and available and witnesses are able to recall the events surrounding your dog bite clearly.
You must file your dog bite claim in Washington court within three years of the date of the attack. While some exceptions to the statute of limitations may apply, most dog bite cases will need to meet this deadline in order for the victims to claim the compensation they deserve.
If you are suffering from a dog bite injury in Washington, do not wait until it is too late to file. Contact Colburn Law as soon as possible following your injury. We will work closely with you to determine your best legal options, and will assist you with filing your case in civil court.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. Out of these cases, approximately 800,000 require medical care — implying that the attack resulted in severe injury.
Additional data on United States dog bite fatalities between 2005 to 2017 determined that dogs killed 433 Americans during this 13-year period. This study also reveals that certain breeds of dogs were responsible for a significantly higher percentage of fatal attacks than others.
- Pit bulls were responsible for 65.6% of fatal dog attacks between 2005 to 2017.
- Rottweilers accounted for 10.4% of fatal dog attacks.
- German shepherds were responsible for 4.6%.
- Mixed-breed dogs comprised 3.9% of fatal attacks.
While many external factors can influence whether or not a dog is aggressive, such as its home environment and treatment by its owner, humans have bred certain dogs to fight, hunt, and defend territory. These aggressive traits may not be present in every dog, but certain breeds are more likely to cause severe damage than others.
Finding the Right Attorney
Dog bite cases can very quickly become complicated legal affairs. Dog owners only have limited defenses available, and it’s likely a dog owner may attempt to claim an injured victim provoked the dog into attacking or is otherwise responsible or partially responsible for the incident. Washington follows a pure comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff will lose a portion of his or her case award if he or she bears any fault for the incident in question. It’s essential to find a reliable and experienced Bellevue dog bite attorney to handle your case so you can avoid absorbing liability for an incident that was not your fault.
If you or a loved one recently sustained an injury from a dog bite or other dog-related incident, contact Colburn Law today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We will review the facts about your dog bite claim and let you know what to expect from filing a lawsuit.