A dog bite is bad enough for an adult, but when a child gets bitten, it can be especially traumatic. It’s painful and can cause scars and permanent disfigurement as well as extensive mental anguish. Dogs are all around us, and kids naturally want to pet and play with them if the dog seems friendly enough.
But sometimes bites happen catching everyone off guard and possibly causing serios injury to a child. Because of this, Washington has enacted a dog bite law that makes it a bit easier to collect compensation.
Getting Bit by a Dog in Washington State
In many states, there is something called the “one bite rule” that allows dog owners to be free from liability if their dog hasn’t bitten anyone before. The idea is, after that the owner would be on notice that their dog was of the biting type.
This meant that victims of dog bites would have to prove that the owner did something wrong like he or she knew that the dog was vicious and had bitten before or showed signs of aggressiveness. But if the dog hadn’t bitten before or it wasn’t an aggressive breed, then the victim wouldn’t be able to recover any compensation.
Under Washington’s dog bite law, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for any damages done when a dog bites a child (or anyone) regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong or not.
Washington Revised Code Section 16.08.050 states that the owner of a dog that injures a person is liable for damages suffered by the victim if:
- The injury came from a dog bite, and
- The victim was in a public place, or
- Lawfully in a private place.
The law also provides a defense to any claim for dog bite injuries if the victim had provoked the dog. Read more about “provoking” further down on this page.
A Dog Bit my Child
When a dog bites a child, Washington’s dog bite law will apply so long as the conditions are met. This law allows children to get compensation and justice if they are bitten and injured by a dog. This is helpful so kids can start healing both physically and emotionally.
Children act impulsively which means that sometimes they might sneak into a neighbor’s yard or pull on a dog’s tail acting playfully, so what happens in those circumstances?
What if my Child Provoked the Dog?
Remember that if a person provokes a dog, then the Washington dog bite law wouldn’t apply and the victim has to prove negligence. For children, what does provocation mean? Kids often pull on tails, poke, or sit on a dog. Is this provocation?
Not necessarily. An insurer may tell you that your child provoked the dog, however, when the courts look at provocation by a child, they will look at the mental capacity and age of the child and take that into consideration.
Types of Compensation a Bitten Person can Seek
Dog bite injuries to children can cause a host of problems that many don’t think about. Under the Washington law, a person can seek any financial loss they suffer from the incident as well as intangible losses like mental anguish.
- Medical Bills
- Mental anguish, including PTSD
- Permanent disability
- Transportation to treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Permanent Disfigurement/Scarring
What Should I do if my Child was Bitten by a Dog?
The most important thing is to get your child’s injuries taken care of. You can take pictures of the bite before treatment, and even of the dog if the situation allows. But after that, you need talk to a Spokane Dog Bite Attorney who knows Washington’s law regarding dog bites.
Talk to the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., and get someone on your side. We serve clients in Spokane County, WA, Coeur d’Alene, ID, and surrounding communities and can go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and their lawyers to get you fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at (509) 926 4900, or send us a message by clicking here.