Can I Sue for Damages in Manassas for a Dog Bite Attack?
Injuries that result from a dog bite or dog attack can be serious. It does not matter if you are attacked by a friend’s pet or a stranger’s dog, any child or adult who is a victim of a Manassas dog bite attack can suffer both physical and psychological harm. Under Virginia law, victims of dog bite attacks may file a claim for monetary damages suffered. More often than not, however, the victim must act quickly in order to preserve his or her legal rights as well as health.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover After a Dog Bite Attack?
There may be several potential sources of monetary compensation a victim of a dog bite attack in Manassas may be able to pursue. Depending on the facts of your particular case, you may be entitled to pursue monetary compensation for:
- Lost wages due to missing work;
- Loss of future wages due to missing work;
- Payment of past medical expenses related to the dog bite;
- Payment of future medical expenses needed due to the dog bite;
- Past pain and suffering experienced because of the attack;
- Future pain and suffering experienced because of the attack; and
- Punitive damages as a punishment for the at-fault party’s seriously dangerous acts.
A victim of a dog bite attack may also seek and recover damages for emotional distress. This is because mental anguish can arise from bodily injury. Unlike physical harm, under Virginia law mental anguish need not be proven with specificity.
Can I Be Considered At Fault for the Dog Bite Attack?
Under Virginia law, if a victim of a dog bite attack is partially at fault for the incident, he or she may be completely denied any monetary compensation for injuries suffered. This is because Virginia follows the contributory negligence rule when it comes to personal injury cases. In fact, contributory negligence is a common defense put forth by a party that has been sued in a personal injury case related to a dog bite attack. In such a scenario, the dog owner who has been sued argues the victim is to blame – at least in part – for the dog bite-related injuries. One example of contributory negligence is the provocation of the dog prior to the attack. Virginia law considers a victim’s contributory negligence to the injuries a complete bar to recovery. Put simply, if a dog bite attack victim in Manassas is found to be even one percent to blame for the injuries suffered, he or she will not recover any monetary compensation from the dog over for damages resulting from the accident.
Not surprisingly, insurance companies will look for any opportunity not to pay a victim of a Manassas, VA dog attack. For this reason, if you or someone you care about has suffered a dog bite injury in Virginia make sure to contact a knowledgeable dog bite injury lawyer right away.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite Attack?
It is important to evaluate all of the possible defendants – or parties who may be held liable for the injuries – when pursuing your Manassas dog bite attack case. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, parties that may be identified to be at fault for the injuries may include the:
- Owner of the dog;
- Owner of the property where the attack happened;
- Dog walker who was negligent in his or her duties;
- Dog sitter or any other person responsible for watching the animal;
- Apartment building landlord; and
- Kennel owner.
Typically, the at-fault party who is being sued in a dog bite or attack-related personal injury case often has insurance coverage designed to pay for this type of accident. No matter who the dog owner may be – whether you know them or are related to them – you should still contact a seasoned Manassas, VA dog bite injury lawyer to pursue monetary compensation from the insurance carrier by filing a claim.
When Can I Sue Over a Manassas Dog Bite Attack?
Establishing fault in a Virginia dog bite attack case can become quite complicated. Insurance companies may try to deny your claim or pay less than you are entitled to in order to save money. Under Virginia law, in order to successfully recover monetary compensation for injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite attack the injured party must show:
- The animal has a propensity for aggression: this may be established by showing the dog has bitten someone else – whether a human or another animal – in the past or it has acted aggressively in the past as if it were going to bite a person or animal; or
- Even if the animal does have a propensity for aggressive behavior, the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was dangerous and could have hurt another and he or she did not take reasonable steps to restrain the animal.
When a dog has no history of dangerous behavior, a victim may be successful in a personal injury suit if he or she can establish the animal’s owner or caretaker was negligent. In order to prove negligence, the victim must show that:
- The owner or caretaker of the dog failed to use reasonable care to restrain the animal. One way to establish this is using the local leash laws. In Manassas, for example, city ordinance prohibits any animal from “running at large” off the property of an owner; and
- The owner or caretaker’s negligent acts caused the victim to be harmed by the dog.
Of note, Virginia follows the doctrine of negligence per se in personal injury cases where a dog causes injury to a person, and the owner is in violation of a local ordinance designed to protect the public from personal injuries caused by dogs. Negligence per se means the owner is automatically found to be liable for the harm without the victim needing to establish negligent behavior to received monetary compensation.
Seek Legal Guidance from a Dog Bite Attorney in Manassas
Whether you or a loved one has been negatively impacted by a dog bite or dog attack in Manassas, it is wise to immediately contact an attorney to learn about your rights under the law. The skilled dog bite injury lawyers at Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP have experience representing injured victims across Virginia, and they are prepared to fight hard for you. Contact us to schedule your initial case evaluation with one of the firm’s attorneys.