If someone else’s dog bit and injured you, you could be owed significant compensation. You might be owed money for your medical treatment, missed time from work, and pain and suffering. Turn to attorneys Mike Deering and Chris Todd Hedrick for help pursuing financial recovery. Our team can tell you more about recovering your medical expenses and lost wages after being injured by someone else’s dog. Reach out to Deering Hedrick today for a free initial claim review.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?
A dog owner will typically be liable if their pet bites or attacks someone else. Because many dog bites come from a dog owned by the victim’s family member, friend, or neighbor, dog bite victims may feel uncomfortable pursuing a legal claim against the owner. However, you should be aware that most dog bite injury claims are handled by the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance provider. Many homeowners’ policies provide liability coverage for injuries inflicted by the homeowner’s domestic pets.
Since your family member, friend, or neighbor has homeowners’ insurance to protect themselves from this very thing, you shouldn’t feel bad about pursuing a claim to recover compensation for expenses and losses you incurred due to dog bite injuries. You should not shoulder the financial consequences of injuries you suffered through no fault of your own.
Please note that Virginia law follows the contributory negligence rule, which states that an injured party may not recover compensation if they share any fault for causing their injuries. Thus, a dog owner might not be liable for dog bite injuries if the injured victim provoked the dog or contributed in any way to causing the attack.
Dog Bite Laws in Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia does not have a statute governing dog bite liability. Instead, court opinions in Virginia have established a “one bite” rule for liability in dog bite cases. Under the one-bite rule, if a dog hasn’t previously attacked another person or pet, their owner can be excused from liability.
If this is the case, a dog bite injury victim must then prove that their injury occurred due to the dog owner’s negligence. A dog owner may be found negligent when they fail to exercise reasonable care in handling or restraining their dog, including failing to follow local leash laws or failing to maintain fencing on their property and thereby allowing their dog to roam free and attack someone.
Virginia Beach also has a municipal ordinance requiring dog owners to keep their pets on leashes in city parks or on any public sidewalk or right-of-way. Dogs must wear their city pet licenses in public. Violations of the local leash law constitute a class 4 misdemeanor.
Injuries and Complications from Dog Bites
Dog bites can cause a wide range of injuries, including:
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Degloving injury – An injury in which skin is torn away from the underlying muscle, bone, or other tissues
- Ligament, muscle, and tendon tears
- Torn blood vessels and excessive blood loss
- Broken bones, especially in hands and feet
- Nerve damage
Dog bite injuries can also lead to long-term complications such as:
- Infections – Dogs’ saliva can contain numerous viruses and bacteria, such as MRSA, tetanus, or rabies.
- Loss of motor function or range of motion – Damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves can cause a loss of fine motor skills. Scar tissue can also impair one’s range of motion.
- Paralysis – Damage to nerve bundles may lead to partial paralysis in affected limbs.
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement – Dog bite injuries may leave permanent scar tissue after healing. Necrosis caused by a secondary infection may also lead to disfigurement after dead tissue is removed.
- Amputation – Damage from dog bite injuries or infections leading to necrosis may require a dog bite victim to undergo amputation of the affected extremity.
Dog Bite Statistics
Key dog bite statistics noted by the Virginia Department of Health include:
- Approximately 4.5 million people in the U.S. suffer dog bites each year. One in five dog bite victims will require medical attention for their injuries or subsequent medical complications.
- Children are more likely to suffer dog bites and sustain more severe injuries. Children aged five to nine account for the highest number of dog bite victims out of any age group.
- Sixty-one percent of dog bites and attacks occur in the dog’s home or a place familiar to the dog. Seventy-seven percent of bite victims suffer attacks from a dog owned by a family member, friend, or acquaintance.
A Forbes article reported rankings of the most dangerous dog breeds by involvement in fatal attacks over a recent 12-year period. The most dangerous breeds included:
- German shepherd
- American bulldog
- Labrador retriever
- Doberman pinscher
What Compensation Can You Recover After Suffering a Dog Bite?
A dog bite injury claim may recover compensation for expenses and losses you incur due to injuries inflicted by a dog bite. A financial recovery in your dog bite case may provide you money for your:
- Medical treatment and physical therapy bills
- Purchases of prescription medications or medical equipment
- Long-term disability expenses
- Ongoing and future losses of income and employment benefits
- Physical pain or distress
- Lost quality of life due to disabilities, scarring/disfigurement, or emotional trauma (including anxiety, depression, or PTSD)
Why Choose Deering Hedrick for Help After a Dog Bite or Attack?
You deserve a compassionate, dedicated legal partner and advocate you can trust to help you through the recovery process after suffering injuries from a dog bite. Injured victims in Virginia Beach and the surrounding region turn to Deering Hedrick to help them pursue maximum financial recovery because:
- Attorneys Mike Deering and Chris Todd Hedrick have focused their careers on advocating for the rights of injured victims, offering legal representation that includes fierce negotiating and litigation skills.
- We focus on you and take the time to understand your concerns, emotions, and needs so that we can prepare a case strategy tailored to your interests and goals.
- We regularly handle cases in all courts throughout the seven cities and surrounding counties.
- Our attorneys have a proven reputation for success reflected in the awards and honors we have received, including being named Expertise.com’s Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Virginia Beach for 2022.
What Can a Dog Bite Attorney Do to Help Your Case?
A dog bite attorney can handle all the details of preparing and pursuing your insurance or legal claims to recover compensation for your injuries. Let your attorney help you:
- Gather evidence for your case, including law enforcement reports, photos and videos, eyewitness statements, and medical records from your treatment
- Identify the liable owner and any applicable insurance coverage
- Document your injuries and losses to calculate the amount of compensation you should seek
- Prepare and file insurance claims or demand letters to begin pursuing a settlement of your case
- File a lawsuit to take your claims to court or trial if necessary
What Steps Should You Take After a Dog Bite
Things you should do to protect your rights after suffering injuries from a dog bite or attack include:
- Notify the dog’s owner if they are not around. Remember to get the owner’s contact and insurance information if you do not know them. Ask the owner for the dog’s medical and vaccination records.
- Take photos and videos of the scene of the attack, including details such as broken fences or gates that the dog escaped from.
- Report the incident to your local animal control office.
- Seek immediate medical attention to get treatment for your injuries, including medications to prevent secondary infections.
- Follow through on your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
- Request copies of your medical records from your treatment.
- Keep copies of bills and invoices for your medical expenses and gather your pay stubs or income records to calculate your lost wages from missed work.
- Consider starting a journal to document the pain, physical difficulty, and emotional distress you experience after the incident.
- Finally, contact a dog bite injury lawyer from Deering Hedrick.
The Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims
Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits requires you to file no later than two years after suffering injuries from a dog bite or attack. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations runs out on your dog bite claim, your case will be dismissed as untimely by the trial court, and you will likely lose your right to recover compensation for your expenses and losses. Don’t wait until it is too late to take action. Contact to a dog bite attorney from Deering Hedrick right away if you’ve been injured.
Contact Deering Hedrick for a Partner to Help You Through the Recovery Process After Suffering a Dog Bite
Reach out to a Virginia Beach, VA, dog bite attorney from Deering Hedrick today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Give us a call at 757-383-6848 or fill out our website contact form to discuss how we could help you after a dog attack. Let us help you seek justice and fair compensation.