Can I Sue for Emotional Injuries from a Dog Bite?

Dog Barking at PersonYes, you can sue for emotional injuries from a dog bite if the injury falls within the statute and you suffered physical common injuries. Many people sustain psychological harm from dog bites because the experience of a dog attack can be terrifying and traumatizing. There are dog bite laws in Washington State for these very incidences.

Washington State’s dog bite liability statute says that:

“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.”

You can sue for “such damages as may be suffered,” which can include emotional harm. There are two exceptions to our state’s dog bite liability statute: trespassers and the lawful use of a police dog. So, as long as your injury was not from the lawful action of a police dog or from an incident in which you were not legally on the property where the incident happened, your damages can include psychological consequences of the attack.

Damages You Can Get for a Dog Bite in Washington State

The dog owner is liable for all of your damages. In addition to the economic losses, like medical bills and lost wages, dog bite victims can seek damages for things like:

Pain and suffering. Being the victim of a dog attack can be physically painful. A dog’s powerful jaws can cause excruciating injuries as the animal’s teeth rip and crush your flesh.

Pain and suffering compensation can also address the inconvenience the injury caused. A significant injury can disrupt your life and that of your family. Merely paying your medical bills does not take care of the disruption to your schedule.

Being attacked by a dog is terrifying. This mental distress is compensable as pain and suffering, even if you do not suffer ongoing emotional consequences from the incident.

Disfigurement. Many people live with disfiguring injuries from dog bites. Dogs tend to attack the face and throat or hands and arms. These areas are often visible when people are going through their everyday activities, which means that friends, co-workers, and strangers can see the enduring reminders of the experience.

Sometimes a person needs reconstructive or plastic surgery after dog bites. The surgeons might need to rebuild areas of a person’s face. Depending on the extent of damage to the skin, the patient might also need skin grafts. The economic costs of these procedures are compensable, as well as the pain and suffering and other emotional losses.

Loss of enjoyment of life. Fear of another dog attack can leave a person unable to go outdoors, hiking or walking, or in public.

If your physical injuries leave you with impairment, such as difficulty walking or maintaining your balance, you might be physically unable to perform certain activities that used to bring you joy.

Anything reasonably connected to the attack and your injuries can affect your enjoyment of life. We will talk with you about how the experience has changed your life.

Fear of animals. It is not surprising that many people are afraid of animals after a dog bite. This fear can stay with a person for years after an attack. The victim might be too afraid to have any pets after a dog bite, which can cause a loss of companionship.

PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common after a dog attack. PTSD is more than the initial terror of getting bitten by an animal. PTSD can damage your relationships, your mental health, and your ability to work for a living.

How to Get Help for Emotional Injuries from a Dog Bite

We can arrange a free consultation for you. All that you have to do is call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000. There is no charge for the meeting and no obligation.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.