Dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dogs. If you were bitten by a dog at a dog park anywhere in Washington State or in Idaho, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.
Spokane’s Dog Parks
At dog parks, dogs can get overexcited and aggressive, and this often leads to dog fights and injured owners as they rush to separate their pets or unprovoked attacks. Some of the parks which allow dogs and other great dog parks in our area include SpokAnimal Dog Park, Valley Mission Dog Park, High Bridge Park, Sky Prarie Park, Friendship Park, Franklin Park & Hays Park.
Getting Bit by a Dog in Washington State
Before we can address what happens at a dog park, we need to look at how dog bites are treated under Washington law.
In Washington State, dog bite victims have a law that helps them get compensation for their injury. Without this law, victims would have to contend with an age-old legal doctrine called the “one bite rule” that allows dog owners to be free from liability if their dog hasn’t bitten anyone before. Under this rule, if dog hadn’t shown signs of aggression in the past, then the owner wasn’t “negligent” when the dog bit the victim.
However, Washington State’s dog bite laws create “strict liability” rule for any bite damage done by their dog even if the dog hadn’t ever bitten anyone or shown signs of aggression. This supersedes the “one bite rule” and puts the liability squarely on the dog owner.
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.
Dog Park Bites
There is no special dog park exemption to Washington’s dog bite law which means that if you are at a dog park and are bitten by a dog, then the owner of the dog is liable. This is true even if you are breaking up a fight between your dog and the other dog (although you have to prove that the bite came from the other dog and not yours).
This is also true if the owner isn’t the one with the dog at the park. Dog walkers often go to dog parks as part of their service, and if one of the dogs under the walker’s care bites someone, then the owner of the dog is liable.
Assumption of the Risk
Many dog parks have signs that say that you bring your dog inside the park at your own risk. If someone gets bitten, they mistakenly take that to mean that the owner of the dog isn’t liable for the damages. The truth is, that sign just attempts to take the liability off the entity that owns/manages the park. So, if you are at a park that has such a sign and are bitten by another person’s dog, then the owner of the dog is still liable.
My Dog is Injured
What happens if your dog is attacked by another dog and severely injured? Remember that the dog bite law only applies to dog’s biting people, not dogs. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you could do about your dog’s injuries.
If that were the case, it would mean everyone could just bring in their vicious dog and bite all the other dogs and there would be no consequences. The law still allows you to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent in the incident to get compensation for injuries to your dog or other pet.
Courts will look at the evidence presented at a trial to determine if the owner was negligent, things like:
- Whether the dog was aggressive in nature.
- If it had bitten before.
- If it was in heat.
- If it was an aggressive bread
Damages in a Dog Bite Case
Under Washington State personal injury law, a victim of a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence or fault, is allowed to recoup financial compensation for their injuries. Many of these are obvious like medical bills, but the law allows for just about any losses that can have a monetary value assigned.
Some of these damages are:
- Medical bills
- Lost time from work
- Permanent disability
- Transportation to treatment
- Job retraining (if you can’t do your old job)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of Consortium (physical intimacy)
- Mental anguish, including PTSD
Spokane Dog Bite Lawyer
Many times, you may not need an attorney when you have an injury covered by someone’s insurance, but the law surrounding a dog bite can be tricky as there are rules to follow and deadlines to meet. Also, when someone is involved in an auto accident, there is an insurance policy that is meant to cover the damages, but with a dog bite, it might take some creative strategy to come up with a source for the compensation.
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, 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.