Dog Bites in Manassas: Why Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney is Important
It is estimated that almost five million Americans are the victims of dog bites each year — with a majority of these victims being children. Studies on dog bites show that, over the span of a decade, the actual dog population only increased by two percent while the number of dog bites rose by 33 percent within the same time period. The high incidence of dog bites causes approximately 1,000 victims across the country to seek emergency room services each day. As a result, dog bites cause financial losses to the tune of $1 billion annually — $345 million of this is paid by homeowner insurance policies.
Not surprisingly, people living in or visiting Manassas, VA are not immune to the risk of becoming a dog bite victim. When a dog bite happens in Manassas, it is vital to know where the attack happened because local law applies to these types of personal injury cases, including city or county ordinances, state law, and even administrative law. At the law firm of Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP, our knowledgeable Manassas dog bite attorneys will investigate which law applies to your case and discuss what factors will affect your claim.
Why Do Dog Bites Happen?
There is more than one reason why dog bites happen. Some owners teach their dogs that biting is an appropriate form of playful behavior, making the animal not know that biting is unacceptable. In other instances, dogs may bite or attack out of fear or in an attempt to protect their territory or loved one. Each year, numerous infant babies are harmed or even killed due to dog bites from animals that mistakenly take the newborns for prey.
Dog bites can be traumatic — both physically and emotionally. On occasion, dog bites result in minor scrapes and cuts while other times they cause serious injuries — such as nerve damage and/or permanent scarring. If the attack is severe enough, a dog bite can even be fatal for the victim. While there are many things that a dog owner and the general public can do to prevent dog bites, these attacks are sometimes unavoidable. By contacting a Virginia dog bite attorney immediately after you are a victim of a Manassas dog bite attack, the investigation may uncover evidence to support your personal injury case that may otherwise have disappeared should you have waited too long.
What to Do If a Dog Attacks
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a Virginia dog bite attack, there are several things you should do right away. First, try to identify the animal that bit you.
Second, try to get the address of the home where the attack happened. Get medical attention immediately after a dog bite. You may or may not need to submit to rabies treatment. Make sure you follow all treating physician instructions regarding your dog bite-related health care.
Third, once you have received appropriate medical treatment, do everything you can to find out as much information about both the dog who attacked you and his or her owner if there is one. This includes confirming whether or not the animal’s owner has homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. This is important because these insurance policies, in some cases, will cover medical expenses related to injuries suffered on the premises regardless of whether or not anyone was at fault for the injuries suffered.
Fourth, try to talk to any witnesses to the dog bite attack and obtain their names and contact information immediately.
Finally, be sure to take photographs of your injuries and the scene where the dog bite attack happened to preserve any evidence you may need to submit at a later time.
Damages Available to Manassas Dog Bite Victims
While it is difficult to state an average settlement amount for a victim who has suffered a dog bite attack, there are general categories under which monetary compensation may be awarded in your personal injury case. These include:
- Lost wages, including past and future;
- Medical costs and bills;
- Pain and suffering incurred;
- Future surgery costs;
- Mental health counseling, if needed;
- Punitive damages if defendant’s conduct rises to that level.
A person defending a Virginia dog bite attack case may put several defenses forward in an effort to avoid liability for injuries suffered. Some defenses to a dog bite claim may include:
- The animal was a police dog, and the incident occurred in the performance of duty;
- The dog bite victim was trespassing on the property where the incident happened;
- The dog bite victim provoked the animal, causing the attack; and
- The dog bite victim was a medical professional who was treating the animal at the time he or she was bitten or attacked.
Manassas, VA Dog Bite Laws
Most jurisdictions in Virginia, including Manassas, have leash laws on the books. These laws forbid dog owners or caretakers from allowing the animal to be unrestrained other than on the owner’s private property. Should an owner or caretaker violate this restriction, he or she can be held liable for injuries suffered by a victim of a dog bite attack if the animal was unrestrained at the time of the incident. Generally, Virginia law does not impose a duty on a dog owner to others unless he or she knows – or should have reasonably known – the animal’s propensity to attack or bite. Of note and contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that the dog gets one “free” bite. If the animal is of a breed that is known for aggressive behavior – such as a Rottweiler or Pitbull — the owner may still be held financially responsible for injuries caused even if the dog had never before bitten or attacked another person or animal. It should also be noted that a negligence-based claim could be pursued based on the classification of a dog of dangerous, however.
Seek Legal Help in Virginia for Dog Bites
The Manassas, VA dog bite attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP have years of experience handling dog bite claims. With proper and thorough investigation early in your case, these lawyers may be able to overcome the other side’s affirmative defenses with undiscovered evidence that is revealed.