Dog Bite Law In Washington – FAQ

Dog Bite Law In Washington – FAQ

Dogs and people really do get along well together. There are close to 90 million dogs in the US and there are only about 4.5 million dog bites reported every year. And less than 1 million of those who report dog bites require serious medical attention. The majority of dog bite victims are children. Children also tend to be injured more severely and require more significant medical attention after a dog bite.

The following answered questions address the information that people are most frequently looking for concerning dog bite law in Washington.

In some states, a dog’s owner will not be responsible for a dog’s first bite if the dog has never before demonstrated any signs of vicious behavior. In Washington, any time a dog bites another person who is lawfully on private property or in a public place the owner of the dog is liable for all the damages that result from the dog’s actions. A dog owner is also responsible if their dog injures or kills an animal belonging to someone else.

Based on the statistics, dogs bite about 1 out of every 73 people in the US. But over 80% of those bitten receive only minor injuries that require little if any, medical attention.

The most common danger from a dog bite is infection. It is important to wash the bitten area thoroughly and apply an antibiotic product. If emergency care is not necessary, a doctor’s visit should be scheduled as soon as possible because some people can develop serious illnesses – such as rabies – from the germs in a dog’s mouth.

Not always. In King County, you are not required to report a dog bite unless the dog is not owned or the owner is unable or unwilling to properly confine and observe the dog for the required 10 day period to determine if it has rabies. A dog bite should be reported to the local animal control agency where the dog lives or, if unknown, the animal control agency where the bite occurred.

No. Washington dog bite laws apply to all dogs regardless of whether there is breed reputation or a known propensity for aggressive behavior. However, once a dog has a history of biting it may be classified as ‘dangerous’ under Washington law and the owner must register the dog, be bonded or insured for any damage the dog might do, and properly confine and secure the dog.

By breed, Pit Bulls are the type of dog most likely to bite and are by far the breed most responsible for dog bite fatalities. But any dog that is startled, feels threatened, or is provoked in some way can become aggressive even though aggressive behavior is not typical or has not been previously observed. Dogs who aren’t feeling friendly will often display behaviors that warn humans to stay away.

Yes. Dog bites can puncture and tear skin causing nerve damage and scarring that can impair mobility and result in disfigurement. Bacteria and other germs found in a dog’s saliva can lead to infection and the development of serious – including fatal – diseases.

A person injured by a dog bite can collect both economic damages – like medical expenses and lost income – and non-economic damages – for the physical pain and mental anguish caused by the dog bite. Economic damages are those amounts that can be verified as losses. Non-economic damages can be harder to quantify and have an upper limit imposed by law.

Yes. Dog bite claims are subject to the same time period as all claims made for personal injury in Washington. A claim must be brought within 3 years from the date of the dog bite.

Yes. If a dog bites someone who was trespassing on the property of the owner or was attempting to commit some other type of civil or criminal wrong the dog owner is not responsible for the damage caused by the dog. Or if a person is found to have in some way provoked a dog to bite, the owner is not held responsible for the dog’s actions.

Dogs that bite but do not have a previous history of biting may be required to be quarantined by the owner for a period of time. In addition, the dog may be further classified as ‘potentially dangerous’ or ‘dangerous’ under Washington law.

Owners of dangerous dogs must comply with strict requirements concerning the containment of their dogs. Dangerous dogs that bite again and any dog that causes severe injury (broken bones or disfiguring lacerations) are required to be confiscated by animal control and destroyed.

Sometimes. Owners of dogs that are identified as dangerous because of previous aggressive behavior have increased responsibilities to monitor and control the behavior of their dogs. If a dog owner fails to comply with the legal requirements – and especially if the dog severely injures or kills someone, criminal penalties can apply.

At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we are dog lovers and we never like to learn that someone has been injured by a dog. It’s usually a very sad situation because more often than not the offending dog belongs to the victim’s family or a close friend. Our Kirkland dog bite attorney helps clients navigate the often delicate situation and collect compensation for their injuries.

If you have experienced a dog bite and want to make a claim for compensation against the owner, call our office at 425-429-1729 to schedule a free consultation or contact us here to find out how we can help you.