While dogs can be great friends, they can also be dangerous if they attack someone. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million individuals are bitten by dogs every year. If you or a family member were injured due to a dog bite, it is important to understand your right to compensation for your injuries under Virginia law.
Virginia’s One Bite Law
In many states, a dog owner is held strictly liable for compensating a dog bite victim—even if this is the first time that the dog attacked someone. However, this is not the law in Virginia. Instead, our commonwealth has a one bite law.
In order to be entitled to compensation, a dog bite victim must prove that the dog owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was dangerous or aggressive. This law applies to any dog attack that causes injuries and not just dog bites. Some ways to establish this include:
- Show that the dog had bitten someone in the past
- Provide evidence that the dog has engaged in other dangerous behaviors in the past, such as jumping on people and knocking them down
How Negligence and Negligence Per Se Can Apply in a Dog Bite Case
A claim for compensation for injuries caused by a dog is a type of premises liability claim. Under Virginia law, dog owners are required to use reasonable care to restrain and control their dogs. They have this duty whether or not they know that their dog is dangerous.
In some cases, it may be possible to pursue a claim against an owner under Virginia’s negligence laws, even if the dog has never bitten someone or been aggressive in the past. A victim would need to show that the owner’s breach of the duty to use reasonable care to control his dog caused his injuries.
Another way to hold the owner responsible is through the doctrine of negligence per se. Under this law, an owner can be found negligent as a matter of law if he violates a law or ordinance relating to the care of his dog, and a victim is injured. For example, if a local ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash in public and the owner failed to have his dog on a leash at the time of the dog attack, the violation of the lease ordinance would be sufficient to prove that he was negligent.
We Can Help You Take the Next Steps in Your Dog Bite Case
If you or a family member were bitten by a dog, our skilled premises liability lawyers are here to collect the evidence you need to prove the owner’s liability to compensate you and negotiate with the insurance company so that you receive all that you deserve in your settlement. To get started, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.