Dogs may be man’s best friend – but they’re still animals. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with 800,000 people requiring medical attention for their injuries. Children are particularly vulnerable to dog bites, and represent at least half of all people who are bitten by dogs in the United States.
If you have been injured by a dog, you may be able to file a claim against the owner’s insurance policy for your losses. While Virginia Beach does not have strict liability for dog bites, you can still prevail in a lawsuit if the owner knew that their dog had acted aggressively in the past. A skilled dog bite injury attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we work hard to help injury victims get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you’ll never pay a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer, reach out to our law office today.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 people who are bitten by a dog will require medical attention. Even small dogs – like chihuahuas – can cause serious injuries or even death.
Dog bite injuries can run the gamut from a minor scratch or bruise that doesn’t break the skin to a fatal attack. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Broken or punctured skin
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Face injuries
- Eye injuries
- Nerve damage
- Tissue damage
- Scarring and/or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
The psychological impact of dog bites should not be underestimated. If you have survived a dog attack, you may have difficulty being around dogs. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of dogs, this can be incredibly hard to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
No matter what type of injuries you suffered, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. An experienced Virginia Beach dog bite injury attorney can work with you to help you get the money that you deserve for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.
When Can I File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite in Virginia Beach?
If you are bitten or otherwise hurt by a dog, it may seem like a no-brainer: you should be compensated for your injuries. However, in Virginia, you will typically have to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in some way before you can recover financial compensation. This is often referred to as the “one-bite rule.”
Most states have a strict liability rule for dog bites. This means that if your dog bites someone, you are liable for that person’s injuries, even if your dog has never been aggressive before. Virginia law is different; to recover from a dog attack, you will have to prove that the owner either knew or should have known that their dog would act aggressively towards a person or pet.
This standard is often referred to as the one-bite rule because it essentially means that dog owners are usually not held responsible the first time that their pooch bites someone. It also applies to other types of injuries from dogs, such as being knocked down by a dog that is known to jump on people.
To win a dog bite case, you will typically need to prove that the dog owner was negligent in some way. Negligence is essentially a form of carelessness. For example, a dog owner may be negligent by not restraining their dog appropriately around kids when they know that their dog has bitten a child before.
In some cases, you may be able to rely on the doctrine of negligence per se. Essentially, if the other person violated a statute that was enacted for public safety, and that violation led to someone’s injury, then you do not have to prove that they were negligent. For example, if someone is walking a dog off leash – in violation of Virginia Beach’s leash laws – and that dog attacks you, you could take advantage of the negligence per se doctrine.
Finally, it is important to understand that Virginia follows a contributory negligence rule. This means that if you were even slightly at fault for the dog bite, you could be barred from recovery. In dog bite cases, you might be partially at fault if you teased or antagonized the dog, or if you trespassed on private property.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries in Virginia Beach
If you are hurt by a dog, then you may be able to file a claim against the dog’s owner. This claim will be made against the person’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. For this reason, you should not be worried that a friend, family member, or neighbor will have to pay out of pocket for your injuries.
The value of your dog bite case will depend on the type of injuries that you suffered and the liability of the dog’s owner. Typically, you can recover financial compensation for your direct financial losses (economic damages) and intangible losses (non-economic damages). If the dog owner acted intentionally or recklessly, you may be eligible for punitive damages.
Economic damages cover losses like property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and future medical treatment (including counseling and therapy). Non-economic damages may pay for things like emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and scarring or disfigurement.
Punitive damages are only available in rare cases where the at-fault party was more than just careless. For example, if a dog owner knew that their dog was dangerous but intentionally let them off their leash to scare someone else, they could be liable for punitive damages. A Virginia Beach dog bite injury lawyer can help you determine if you can seek punitive damages for your claim.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
If you have been knocked down, bitten, or otherwise attacked by a dog, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Through this type of claim, you can get the money that you need to move forward with your life. Our law firm will advocate for your right to full compensation.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we are dedicated to helping injury victims get the best possible outcome for their claim. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to set up an appointment with a Virginia Beach dog bite injury attorney, give us a call at 757-499-1841 or fill out our online contact form.