Can You Sue When a Dog Bites You in Virginia?
Many people are surprised to learn that sometimes the owner of a dog can be sued if the dog bites someone. In fact, Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer Jeff Brooke recently won a $300,000 settlement in a dog bite case. When that client came to The Jeff Brooke Team, she wasn’t sure whether suing the dog’s owner was even possible.
Dog bite injuries can be very severe, resulting in hospital stays and visits, intense pain, emotional distress, and long-term permanent disability. In some circumstances, the dog’s owner is legally responsible for compensating the victim for the injuries caused by the dog bite.
When Is a Dog Owner Responsible for Dog Bite Injuries?
Unlike some states, Virginia does not have a specific dog bite statute. The owner’s responsibility is defined by general principles of personal injury law, referred to as negligence in the law.
As Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers, we often remind our clients that the law places responsibility on the dog’s owner, not on the dog. All dog owners have the legal responsibility to know their dog’s nature and propensities and take reasonable care to avoid others being harmed by the dog. The natural inclinations of a specific animal or breed need to be taken into account. If the dog poses a risk of harm to others, the owner must use care to prevent the dog from causing injuries. If the owner does not exercise that care, and the dog injures someone, the owner may be responsible for paying the victim’s medical expenses and other losses.
Whether a dog owner is legally liable in a specific case depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of that case. Each situation must be evaluated and analyzed to determine responsibility. The time, place, and surrounding events are relevant. So is the relationship among the dog owner and victim. For example, if a dog owner invited the victim onto the owner’s property to play with the dog — which was the situation in our recent case at The Jeff Brooke Team — those circumstances are very relevant in analyzing the case.
Should I Consult a Lawyer About Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog bite injuries vary greatly in severity. Injuries can include significant medical expenses, as well as permanent impairment and disfigurement. Other times, the injuries are less severe and do not require on-going medical care or result in permanent damage. If a dog bites you or a family member, the most important priority is getting medical attention and a full medical assessment of the injury. If it appears that the injury is serious, requires on-going medical treatment, and may cause long-lasting pain and impairment or disfigurement, you should talk with a lawyer. Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer Jeff Brooke has the experience to evaluate your case and advise you of what options you have available.
In Virginia, there is a two-year time limit on the ability to sue a dog owner for dog bite injuries. After two years, you can no longer file an action or pursue the owner for compensation. For that reason, it’s important not to wait too long after the injury to talk with a lawyer.
Talk With a Virginia Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
Virginia Beach personal injury lawyer Jeff Brooke has the knowledge and experience to evaluate your dog-bite injury case. The Jeff Brooke Team is here to help if you or a family member suffered significant injuries from a dog bite or attack. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm serves clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.