When we think about an injury from a dog, we think of a dog bite, but sometimes a dog will hurt someone without biting. Dogs can be rambunctious and play aggressively and this can cause injury as well. But many wonder if you can get compensated for injuries from a dog that didn’t bite.
The answer is yes, but to fully explore the issue, we need to look at the dog bite laws in Washington state.
The “One Bite Rule”
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.
When Dogs Don’t Bite
Of course, we’re not talking about a dog bite here, but when dogs injure without biting. Therefore, the law doesn’t apply. So does this mean that you can’t get compensation for a knock-down or other non-bite dog injury? No, you still can, but you just can’t get the help from Washington’s dog bite law.
This means that if you or your child was knocked down by a dog, then you have to prove that the owner was negligent before you can collect compensation.
To prove someone was negligent, you have to provide evidence that they acted in a manner that didn’t give someone else the caution and care due them under the law. Examples are someone running a red light or failing to pick up debris on a sidewalk in front of a store.
Basically, it means that someone was careless in what they did or what they failed to do, and it caused injury to another person.
Applying that to a knockdown injury, the victim has to prove that the owner of the dog knew or should have been aware that the dog might knock the person over. For example, if the dog is an 80 lb. labrador and a child is barely walking, or an elderly person has trouble standing, then the owner should take some precautions when the dog is around. Sometimes, dogs are just happy to see you and jump on people.
Types Damages for Non-Bite Dog Injuries
A dog can do serious damage even if it doesn’t bite, and when it does, the injured person is entitled to certain damages. Most people are aware of the obvious damages like medical bills, but there are more that aren’t so obvious. Some of these are:
- Medical Bills
- Lost time from work
- Permanent disability/disfigurement
- Transportation to treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Counseling/mental anguish
What Should I do if I was Injured by Being Knocked Down by a Dog?
If either you or a child have been injured by a dog that wasn’t from a bite, the most important thing is to get the injuries taken care of. If you can, take pictures of the injuries and even of the dog, but only if you can do so safely. After that, you need talk to a lawyer who knows Washington’s law regarding dog bites and other dog injuries.
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.