Washington law states that there are situations when a person can recover damages from a dog owner if the dog bites him/her. State law even says that, under certain circumstances, a dog owner can receive compensation from another dog owner if that canine bites his or her dog. But what happens if a person suffers a non-aggressive dog injury (e.g., falls because of a dog)? Again, the law states that the injured party may be able to receive compensation for any injuries or damages. The victim, though, will require an experienced personal injury attorney for assistance.
What are Non-Aggressive Dog Injuries?
“Non-aggressive dog injuries” largely refer to injuries a person sustains from a dog that were caused by something else than a dog bite. The most common of these include falls. Medium to large sized dogs often lean on a person, which causes that person to fall to the ground or into an object.
Similarly, small dogs often run quickly between people’s feet. This act can cause the person to trip and fall to the ground. In either event, the act of falling can cause moderate to serious injuries.
Please note that small children and the elderly are generally at a higher risk of injury from non-aggressive dog attacks. Technically, though, people of all ages can experience injuries from innocent dog acts. Further, even if an innocent act causes an injury, the law still treats it as a “dog attack.”
When is a Dog Owner Responsible for an Attack?
A dog owner in Washington is held accountable for an innocent dog attack if he or she was “negligent.” Negligence means that the owner failed to take reasonable care or steps to prevent the attack. Factors that might show negligence include when a dog owner failed to:
- Leash a dog,
- Control a dog while it was on a leash,
- Keep the dog in a fenced area,
- Safely keep the dog in the owner’s vehicle or home.
When a person suffers a non-aggressive dog injury, and the pet owner was negligent in casing the injury, the law says that the owner must compensate the victim for any injuries.
Consider, for example, two neighbors – Lisa and Sue. Lisa owns a large Siberian Husky. Sue is out one spring day doing some yard work. Unbeknownst to her, Lisa’s dog is out and wandering the neighborhood. At one point, the husky enters Sue’s yard and slowly walks in her direction. Sue gets up from pulling some weeds and the dog bumps into her. Sue resultingly falls and breaks her wrist.
Here, it is possible that Lisa was negligent in causing Sue’s injuries. While her dog was outside, she did not have the animal on a leash or in a fence. Further, she allowed her pet to wander the neighborhood without any supervision. If negligent, then Lisa is obligated to compensate Sue for her injuries.
What Must a Dog Owner Compensate an Injured Party For?
Negligent dog owners must pay, or reimburse, an injured party for his or her damages. These may include:
- Medical expenses incurred because of the non-aggressive attack,
- Lost wages,
- Any out-of-pocket costs,
- Property damage (if applicable), and
- Pain and suffering.
“Medical expenses” can include compensation for:
- Ambulance transportation,
- Emergency room treatment,
- Rehabilitative Services, and
Note that if a dog owner is required to compensate a dog attack victim, then he or she will often rely on homeowner’s insurance liability coverage to pay for the damages. The injured party would then have to file a claim with the applicable insurance company. Since insurers will likely fight a claim, it is a good idea for a victim to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help.
Otorowski, Morrow, and Golden, PLLC is a Washington personal injury firm with the skill that matters. The attorneys at our firm are tireless in their efforts and passionate in their representation. These legal professionals have over 120 years of combined experience in assisting injured parties. They know how to get the compensation that you deserve, hands down. Do yourself a favor and contact them today.