Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs

In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.

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  • What Happens to the Dog If I File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

    Dog Barking AggressivelyFiling a lawsuit for dog bite injuries does not necessarily lead to authorities euthanizing the animal as a result. When you file a civil lawsuit, the local animal control authorities are not a part of that action and are not automatically notified of the incident. If you want the authorities to know about the dog bite and take action as a result, you will have to notify them directly.

    The Lawsuit Has No Effect on the Dog

    When you file a lawsuit against someone in civil court, you file papers that tell the court:

    • Who you are (the plaintiff – the injured person)
    • Who you are suing (the defendant – the dog owner)
    • What happened that resulted in your injury (the dog bit you)
    • Why the person you are suing is responsible for the harm you suffered (the defendant owns the dog)
    • What you want the court to make that person do (recover damages for your injuries, losses, and expenses)

    There are many different dog bite laws in Washington State. The location of your dog bite injury determines which may apply to any given situation.

    How the Authorities Get Involved

    Your city or county might have ordinances governing situations involving dogs who bite people. If so, you can notify your local animal control agency after a dog bite. The authorities then investigate the complaint and determine what actions to take afterward.

    For example, if you were to report a dog bite injury in King County, authorities would use the relevant King County ordnances to decide whether the dog is a nuisance or vicious.

    If they decide that a dog is a nuisance, the animal control agency can impound the animal. In some situations, the agency will allow the owner to redeem the animal if they agree to follow the agency’s guidelines. If they determine the animal to be vicious, the agency may euthanize the animal instead.

    The King County Ordinance Concerning Nuisance Animals and Vicious Dogs

    According to the King County ordinance about dogs that fit the definition of a nuisance or a vicious animal, the animal control agencies can take action after a dog bite if:

    • The animal habitually snaps, growls, snarls, jumps, or otherwise threatens people who are legally using public spaces.
    • The animal constitutes a danger to the safety of people who are not within the animal’s premises, or who are lawfully within the animal’s premises.
    • The animal is not properly confined to its owner’s property or kept under its owner’s control.

    Civil Penalties the Agency Can Impose on Dog Owners in King County

    King County animal control authorities can assess a fine of up to $1,000 against the owner of a nuisance dog for each violation of the ordinance. Here is how the agency determines the amount of the penalty:

    “The manager, in a reasonable manner, may vary the amount of the penalty assessed to consider the appropriateness of the penalty to the nature and type of violation; the gravity of the violation; the number of past and present violations committed and the good faith of the violator in attempting to achieve compliance with prescribed requirements or after notification of a violation.”  [King County Code 11.04.200 Violations – Civil Penalty.]

    How a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Can Help

    When a dog owner is fined for violating their local ordinance, the proceeds from the fine do not go to the injured party. A dog bite lawsuit is the only way to seek damages for your losses from the defendant. There is a statute of limitations for dog bite cases in Washington State, so it is important to begin the process as soon as possible.

    At Max Meyers Law, we help people who are the victims of dog injuries. Call us today at 425-399-7000 for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your case.

  • Will My Dog Bite Case Go to Court?

    View of Courthouse StepsEvery case is different, so it is impossible to tell you whether your dog bite claim will settle or go to court. Here are the typical possibilities:

    • Your lawyer contacts the dog owner, negotiates with the insurance company, and settles the case without having to file a lawsuit.
    • The dog owner does not have insurance that will pay your injury claim, so your lawyer has to file a lawsuit against the owner.
    • The dog owner has insurance, but the company refuses to pay a fair settlement of your claim, so your lawyer has to file a lawsuit.
    • The case settles after your lawyer files a lawsuit but before trial.
    • Your lawyer files a lawsuit and the defendant and his insurance company does not settle with you, so the case goes to trial, where the judge decides your fate.

    Litigation is unpredictable. Even after your lawyer files a lawsuit, it might appear that the case is going in one direction, when it suddenly changes course. For example, the insurance company might play hardball for months and then, out of the blue, make a reasonable settlement offer.

    Sometimes the insurance company’s lawyer will act cooperatively at first, and then stop returning phone calls from your lawyer. It is hard to anticipate what will happen in court cases.

    Factors That Can Affect Whether Your Case Will Settle or Go to Court

    The relevant issues in your case will depend on the facts of your case, but here are some aspects that can affect whether your case settles or goes to trial:

    Whether the dog owner is liable. Under Washington State law, a dog owner is responsible whenever the owner’s dog bites or otherwise injures someone unless the injured person was trespassing at the time of the incident or the injury happened as a result of the lawful use of a police dog.

    If the dog owner claims that the situation falls within one of these exceptions, the case is unlikely to settle without more investigation. Both sides, the plaintiff (you) and the defendant dog owner, will gather evidence to support their positions. If the parties cannot agree at that point, the case might have to go to trial for a judge to make a ruling as to what happened.

    Your injuries. Your doctor might recommend that we wait to see how well you heal up before agreeing on a settlement amount for your injuries. Because of infection risk and complications, injuries from a dog can take a long while to heal.

    We do not want to rush to a settlement, only to discover that you still need more medical procedures to treat your injuries. Once you settle, you cannot go back to the defendant and ask for more money, even if you have more medical bills.

    Often people need multiple surgeries after a dog bite. The initial procedures try to repair the damage to tissues and organs. After addressing the medical crisis, you might need reconstructive surgery, particularly if the dog mauled your face. You might also need one or more plastic surgeries to minimize your scarring.

    Psychological ramifications. Many people find that being the victim of a dog attack is traumatizing. They can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the experience. PTSD does not always appear immediately after the attack, but when it does, it can be debilitating. Rushing to a quick settlement might not allow sufficient time for the psychological harm you could suffer to appear.

    Insurance company actions. If the defendant dog owner has insurance that will cover your dog bite claim, the insurance company will probably pay for a defense lawyer to handle the lawsuit for them. The exception to this protocol is if the insurance company adjuster settles your claim before your lawyer files a lawsuit.

    Once we file the lawsuit, the insurance company transfers the case to one of their lawyers. Transferring the case around like that will delay resolution of the dispute until the company’s lawyer becomes familiar with the file.

    The insurance company will tell the adjuster and defense lawyer the maximum amount of money for which they can settle the case. This number is the “settlement authority.”

    The adjuster and lawyer do not have authority to settle the case for more than that amount. If the amount of compensation you need to make you whole (or to come as close to it as a fair dollar figure would) is more than the settlement authority from the insurance company, the case will have to go to trial.

    Unresolved factual disputes. The defendant might make some wild claims in an attempt to get out of liability for your injuries. He might deny that he owns the dog, or claim that you were trespassing. He might declare that some other dog caused your injuries, or that your medical bills were for a different accident.

    In situations like this or when there is any other critical factual dispute that the parties cannot work out between their lawyers, the case will likely have to go to court. In trial, the judge can decide what the truth is and what is not.

    If you have injuries from a dog, call Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000, to set up your free consultation. We can answer your questions and fight for your right to compensation.

  • 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.

  • What Is Strict Liability for a Dog Bite?

    Dog Barking and Showing Its TeethThe dog bite laws in Washington State hold a dog owner liable even if he was not negligent. The legal concept of strict liability in these situations means that whenever a dog bites someone, the owner is responsible for the injuries. There are, of course, a couple of exceptions to this general rule.

    Dog Bite Law in Washington State

    A dog’s owner is responsible when her dog bites someone as says the dog bite laws in Washington State. The state statute that controls these situations is RCW 16.08.040, which says:

    “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.”

    Exceptions to Strict Liability for Dog Bites in Washington State

    The dog owner is not automatically responsible for the injuries when a dog bites someone in these two circumstances:

    1. The bitten person was trespassing at the time of the dog bite. Washington State law does not protect trespassers from dog bites. Many people keep dogs on their property to frighten away trespassers, and our law allows this conduct. A landowner does not have to prevent his dogs from biting trespassers.

    2. The bite happened during the lawful use of a police dog. When a police dog bites someone, the owner (the law enforcement agency) does not have to pay damages to the injured person unless someone was using the police dog unlawfully.

    Let’s say that an officer was using a drug-sniffing police dog within department guidelines. A suspect became violent, and the dog bit him. The suspect cannot collect damages from the police department.

    No “One Free Bite” for Dogs in Washington State

    Another aspect of strict liability is that the very first time a dog bites someone, the owner is liable. In some other states, there is a “free bite” rule that bars an injured person from compensation if no one has previously reported the dog for biting. In our state, however, the dog owner can protest that she did not know her dog was vicious, but the owner will still be responsible to anyone the dog harms.

    Reasonable Damages for a Dog Bite

    The owner will have to pay all of your damages in a strict liability case. The statute holds dog owners responsible “for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten.” In other words, you can make a claim for whatever reasonable expenses you incurred as a result of the dog bite.

    Reasonableness is a judgment call. A judge would probably find a person’s direct medical expenses to treat the bite reasonable but would not make the dog owner pay for the injured person to get unnecessary cosmetic procedures done while having surgery to repair the bite damage to her arms.

    Types of Damages in Strict Liability Dog Bite Claims

    The concept of strict liability does not affect what kinds of compensation you can collect so that you can pursue the same damages as in any other personal injury lawsuit. These categories can include:

    Medical bills to repair the injury. These expenses can include the ambulance, emergency room, diagnostic testing, laboratory work, imaging like X-rays and CAT scans, treatments, procedures, hospitalization, and physical therapy.

    Dog bites often require additional care, such as surgery to repair tissue damage, reconstructive surgery (particularly when a dog mauls a person’s face), and plastic surgery to minimize scars. Sometimes a patient requires skin grafts.

    Lost wages if you missed work. You might have missed work because of the dog bite event, the medical care, physical therapy, and recuperation time. If you did not get paid or you lost income, the dog owner can be responsible for this loss.

    Pain and suffering damages can compensate you for the physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience the dog bite caused. Paying the out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills does not compensate a person for the agony a dog bite can create.

    Experiencing a traumatic injury can throw a wrench into your schedule and disrupt your life. If you have children or other loved ones who depend on you, the injury can disrupt their lives as well as yours.

    PTSD. Many people who get mauled by a dog carry the burden of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years afterward. PTSD is a legitimate condition that can impact your life in many ways, causing depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

    Disfigurement. Dogs tend to bite the face, throat, and hands of people, which makes dog bites particularly disfiguring. The jagged presentation of these wounds makes them even more noticeable. Going through the rest of one’s life enduring whispers and stares when out in public is a loss, and the law can make the dog owner pay.

    How to Get Legal Help for a Dog Bite Injury

    If you call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000, we will schedule your free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you get compensation. A dog bite lawyer can help you today.

  • Should I Call the Police After a Dog Bite?

    Police OfficerYou should call the police after a dog bite if the animal was vicious or acted oddly and might bite another person or animal. If an animal is on a rampage, it is a danger to the public. A dog who is frothing at the mouth, running with an unusual gait without an injury, or behaving oddly in some other manner might have rabies, which also puts the public at risk. In these situations, you should call the police and animal control.

    Why Calling the Police or Animal Control Helps to Prevent Rabies and Tetanus

    If someone had called the authorities before the animal bit you, you would not be facing the possibility of rabies shots or a tetanus vaccination. Notifying the authorities can help to ensure that the animal does not bite more people and expose them to lethal diseases.

    Violation of Leash Laws

    Many cities and communities in Washington State have leash laws that prohibit dogs from running loose. Although dog bites can still happen if a dog is on a leash, the authorities want to know about stray animals or dogs whose owners violate the leash laws.

    Leash laws are in place to protect the public. When people do not obey leash laws, they expose the public to rabies, tetanus, and other medical conditions as well as dog attacks.

    Rabies

    One of the most pressing concerns with a dog bite is infection, particularly rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that an infected animal spreads with its saliva. Most cases of rabies transmission happen through bites. Rabies can be one of the more common dog bite injuries.

    How rabies passes from a dog to a human. When an infected dog bites a human, its teeth puncture the tissue of the victim, carrying the saliva-borne virus deep into the flesh of the person.

    Treatment for rabies. The only medical option is to get medical care immediately after a dog bite. The medical professionals will clean your wound, repair tissue damage, and evaluate your risk of rabies. If they determine that there is any credible risk of rabies, you will have to undergo rabies injections, which include:

    • An injection of rabies immune globulin, a shot that acts quickly to block the rabies virus from infecting you after a dog bite. The medical professional will inject the rabies immune globulin into more than one location, including near the site of the bite. You must have this shot as soon as possible after the dog bite for the shot to have a chance to prevent rabies.
    • Four rabies vaccinations in your arm. Your doctor will inject the series of four rabies vaccines throughout 14 days.
    • Unless you have had a tetanus shot recently, your doctor will likely give you a tetanus booster shot, since dog bites are deep puncture wounds that can cause tetanus as well as rabies.

    Symptoms of rabies. If you wait until you until you exhibit the signs of rabies, it is too late. There is no effective rabies treatment. Some of the symptoms of rabies include:

    • Fever and headache
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Confusion, anxiety, hyperactivity, and agitation
    • Hallucinations

    Tetanus Risk from a Dog Bite

    Even if you are not at risk of rabies from a dog bite, you might need a tetanus shot. These shots only last for five to ten years. With particularly dirty wounds, medical practitioners usually give a booster shot if the most recent tetanus vaccination was more than five years ago.

    Tetanus is a bacterial infection (unlike rabies, which is a virus). A person with tetanus (also called “lockjaw”) faces a dire outcome, as there is no cure for tetanus. The Clostridium tetani bacteria creates a toxin that attacks your nervous system and takes over control of your muscles. If you do not get a tetanus shot in time to prevent the bacterial disease, you can expect to suffer life-threatening symptoms, like:

    • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
    • Muscle spasms in your jaw and neck. Your jaw can clench so hard that it breaks your jaw.
    • Muscle spasms in other areas of your body intense enough to fracture your bones.
    • Physical touch, noise, light, or even the movement of air around you can trigger a painful outburst of body spasms.
    • Your abdominal muscles can become rigid.
    • Fever and sweating.
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Your blood pressure can spike.

    If you survive, it can take months to recuperate from tetanus, since the disease damages the endings of your nerves. Your nerves will have to grow new endings. Tetanus can be fatal, usually from respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, or pneumonia.

    Getting Legal Help for a Dog Bite

    If a dog bit you or a loved one, contact Max Meyers Law so that we can evaluate whether you might be eligible for compensation. You may be able to sue for both your physical and emotional damages. A dog bite lawyer can help you. We will be happy to line up your free consultation – call us at 425-399-7000 today. There is no obligation.

  • How Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Help Me?

    Dog Barking and Showing TeethDepending on who you ask, dogs are either the favorite or second-favorite companion pets in America. Despite how much we love our dogs, these animals can bite and attack people. As with many things, the public perception of the law about dog bites in Washington State is different from the actual law. Not to worry, a lawyer can:

    • Advise you on the law,
    • Explore whether you have a viable claim for compensation,
    • Work directly with the insurance company to seek a settlement, and
    • File a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries.

    There Is No “One Bite” Law in Washington State

    People assume that if a dog bites them, they have to prove that the dog was vicious or had a history of attacks and bites that the victims reported to the authorities. While that might be the case in some other states, there is no “one free bite” rule in our state. If a dog bites you and the situation does not fall within one of the exceptions, the owner is liable for your injuries.

    We will have to locate the owner of the dog and prove ownership. A lawyer can assist you in this process and collect the evidence needed to establish who owns the dog.

    Liability for Dog Bites

    The owner of a dog is financially responsible to dog bite victims under this state statute:

    “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.” RCW 16.08.040

    Interpreting and Applying the Law on Dog Bites to Your Injury

    We will need to talk with you about the facts of your case to determine if the state law applies to your situation. In general, if you were in a public place or lawfully on private property, the law protects you. Our dog bite liability statute does not protect trespassers. Also, people who sustain dog bites as the result of the lawful use of police dogs cannot use the statute to seek compensation from the dog’s owner.

    Recoverable Damages for a Dog Bite in Washington State

    Our statute does not limit the number of damages the owner might have to pay for a dog attack. The owner can be liable for whatever reasonable costs or losses you incurred because of the dog bite. These damages can include:

    Economic damages: Medical bills and lost wages. We can gather the documentation to establish the total amount of these damages.

    The owner can be responsible for all of your reasonable medical expenses from the attack, including the:

    • Emergency room
    • Doctors,
    • Surgeries – initial trauma surgery and subsequent plastic and reconstructive procedures
    • Hospital
    • Rehabilitation
    • Physical and occupational therapy
    • Prescription drugs

    Also, we can seek compensation for any wages, salary, or other income you lost because of the attack, medical treatments, and recuperation time.

    Non-economic damages. After a dog attack, you can experience physical pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. We will calculate the reasonable amount of compensation for these losses.

    Insurance Coverage for Dog Bites

    Sometimes a person with a vicious dog does not have liability insurance that pays claims for people the dog injures. Insurance companies often refuse to cover a dog with a history of attacks. Many policies exclude dog bites or attacks entirely, regardless of the dog’s history. Some policies refuse to cover specific breeds that have a high incidence of large injury claims pay-outs.

    If the owner of the dog does not have a homeowner’s liability policy that will pay your damages, we can explore other insurance options for you. For example, some people buy optional liability coverage in addition to their standard homeowner’s policy, called umbrella liability. Umbrella (also called excess liability) coverage can pay claims for injuries or property damage that other insurance does not cover. Some umbrella policies, however, exclude dog bites.

    Animal liability insurance is a relatively new type of coverage, designed to meet the needs of dog owners to have liability protection and injured people to get compensation. We can explore whether the dog owner has this type of coverage. Be aware that some policy limits are low, such as $15,000, which can be grossly inadequate in the event of a significant dog attack.

    How to Get Legal Help for a Dog Bite

    We realize that Washington State’s dog bite laws may seem complicated, with the statute and its exceptions, insurance policies, and other technical issues. You do not have to figure out the law. The team at Max Meyers Law will be happy to talk with you and answer your questions about your claim for compensation for dog bite injuries. Just give us a call today at 425-399-7000, and we will schedule your free consultation.

  • What Should I Do if a Dog Bit My Child?

    Child at Doctor OfficeIf a dog bit your child, there are several steps you should take right away to protect your child’s health and well-being and to preserve the right to compensation for his injuries. Of course, the first thing you should do is get him to a doctor or emergency room for professional medical attention.

    Never Treat a Dog Bite Only at Home

    Even a minor dog bite is a medical emergency because of the many adverse effects your child could experience as a result of these wounds. You should always take your child to an urgent care center, emergency room, or doctor’s office so that the medical professionals can:

    Perform the initial trauma care that all dog bites need. Because a dog’s teeth can pierce deep into tissue, causing damage that you cannot see from the outside, the treatment team should evaluate things like internal bleeding and damages to muscles, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, nerves, skin, and other organs. Your child might need surgery so that he does not lose the function of a body part. Plastic and reconstructive surgery can start in the emergency room to minimize disfiguring scars.

    Dog bites are notoriously dirty wounds, so the professionals should clean and sanitize the injury to prevent infections.

    Medical professionals should evaluate your child’s risk of exposure to rabies. Your child will need to undergo rabies shots if there is a possibility that the bite exposed him to rabies. You cannot wait to see if he develops symptoms (headache, weakness, fever, and general discomfort), because then it will be too late. We can only prevent this disease through immunization. Rabies shots include:

    • A human rabies immune globulin (HRIG), and
    • A post-exposure anti-rabies vaccination, and
    • A tetanus shot (unless your doctor determines that you have had a recent tetanus shot)

    Tetanus shots. Even if there is no risk of rabies, your trauma team will evaluate whether your child needs a tetanus shot. People develop tetanus, also called lockjaw, from the Clostridium tetani bacteria getting deep into tissue from a puncture wound, such as a dog bite. Tetanus shots do not last forever, so you should tell the doctor how recently your child has a tetanus injection. He might need a booster shot.

    Tetanus kills 10 to 20 percent of the people who contract it, so take your child to an emergency room immediately if he experiences any of these symptoms after a dog bite:

    • Rapid heart rate
    • Muscle pain or spasms
    • Clenching of his neck or jaw muscles
    • Fever
    • Headaches
    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

    Infections from dog bites. Your child could develop other infections from the bacteria in a dog’s mouth. These infections can cause permanent nerve damage, require that your child have his hands or feet amputated, or be fatal. Some of these infections include pasteurellosis (cat scratch fever, which both cats and dogs can carry) and cellulitis, which can become flesh-eating strep or methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

    Follow-up Care After the Initial Medical Treatment for a Dog Bite

    After your child receives professional medical attention for his wounds, you should keep a watchful eye over him. If the wound develops any signs of infection, like warmth to touch, redness, fever, headache, or increased pain, take him to the emergency room right away.

    Also, seek professional medical care at once if he feels worse or different, the wound gets worse or does not heal as expected, or he has any other unusual symptoms. Be sure to follow the discharge instructions about changing the dressings and keeping the wound clean.

    How Dog Bites Can Be Different for a Child Than for an Adult

    As a child grows, bones elongate and skin and connective tissue stretches, so dog bite scars and other damage can get worse as the child gets older. A child might have to endure additional surgeries, physical therapy, and other painful procedures as he ages.

    Depending on the age of the child, he might not be able to tell you what is going on inside his body. He should have a thorough medical workup to check for any internal damage from the attack.

    Many children develop nightmares, fear of animals, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the trauma of a dog attack. You should talk with your child’s doctor about taking the child for counseling to help him through this emotionally painful experience.

    How to Get Legal Help for Dog Bite Injuries

    If your child has been the victim of a dog attack, you should talk with a lawyer to find out about compensation for what your child has gone through and could face in the future. You may have questions like if the owner is liable. You may be wondering how insurance works in these cases or how much a settlement could be for a dog bite. We will explain the dog bite statutes and your legal rights at no cost to you. To set up your free consultation with Max Meyers Law, call us today at 425-399-7000.

  • How Does Insurance Work for a Dog Bite Case?

    Dog Showing TeethIf a dog attacked you, you need to know about insurance coverage that might pay some of your damages. Unlike car accidents in which automobile liability insurance can pay your losses, most people are unclear about what insurance, if any, will compensate you for dog bite injuries. You have several possibilities for insurance benefits in these situations.

    How Insurance Works in Dog Bite Cases

    Types of insurance that can pay some of your dog bite damages include:

    The homeowner’s liability policy of the dog owner.  The homeowner’s liability policy of the dog owner might provide some compensation for your injuries, but the odds are against this situation. Most homeowner’s insurance companies limit the amount of money they will pay on dog bite claims, exclude particular breeds from any coverage, or refuse to pay any dog bite claims whatsoever.

    For example, if the dog that bit you was a pit bull, it is unlikely that the dog owner’s residential policy will pay you any benefits because of the breed of the dog. If the policy provides some benefits for animal bites but limits the recovery to $5,000, by way of example, $5,000 is all you can collect from that policy, regardless of how high your losses were. Because the average payout for a dog-related claim is over $35,000, policy limits are often inadequate.

    Dog owner’s umbrella liability policy. Many people pay an additional premium to have a rider to their homeowner’s insurance policy. This extra coverage, often called “umbrella liability” covers the homeowner if someone successfully sues the homeowner for negligence not specifically mentioned in the standard homeowner’s policy.

    Unfortunately for dog bite victims, however, many of these unless umbrella policies now exclude coverage for animal bites or impose limitations similar to those in many standard homeowner’s policies. In these situations, the language of the policy will control how much, if any compensation you will receive under that insurance.

    Dog owner’s dog bite insurance. For many people, having a dog is a necessity, not a luxury. People often need:

    • Service dogs
    • Therapy dogs
    • Guard dogs

    Also, some people have dogs that their municipality declares as dangerous because of their breed, but the dog owner has no acceptable options. For circumstances like these and the “work” dogs, the insurance industry created a form of coverage for animal liability. Even people whose dogs do not fit into these categories sometimes buy animal liability insurance simply for the peace of mind it provides.

    Animal liability policies usually only cover injuries to third parties, not the dog owner or members of the owner’s family. That said, these policies provide some much-needed protection for the more than 4 million dog bite victims each year.

    Your health insurance. If all else fails, your health insurance can be a way for you to receive the medical care you need. You can then pursue a claim for compensation against the dog owner.

    Your Options If There Is No Insurance Coverage That Will Pay Your Losses

    If there are no insurance policies that can help you, we can go after the dog owner’s personal assets. The first step is to sue the owner in civil court seeking compensation for your losses. Once we get a judgment from the court, we can attempt to collect that amount of money from the dog owner.

    What Happens If You Were Partly Negligent

    Does fault on your part matter in dog bite cases in Washington State? No, unless you were trespassing or your dog bite was the result of the lawful use of a police dog. If you do not fall into either of those situations, the dog owner is strictly liable for your damages.

    Strict liability for dog bites in our state means that it does not matter how careful the dog owner was. If the person’s dog bit you and you were not within one of the exceptions, the owner has to pay all of the damages you incurred because of the dog attack.

    Here are some scenarios that explain Washington’s strict liability law on dog bites:

    • You were bicycling through a public park when Fido attacked and bit you. Fido’s owner is liable.
    • The same situation, except that you had just robbed a store and Fido was a police dog, lawfully pursuing you. Fido’s owner is not liable.
    • You are in a friend’s backyard at his invitation when his dog Spot bit you. Spot’s owner is liable.
    • You trespassed into your neighbor’s backyard and his dog bit you. The dog owner is not liable.

    Getting Legal Help for a Dog Bite Damages Claim

    Do not worry about sorting through all the possible sources of insurance coverage for your damages. We handle those issues for our clients. Give us a call at 425-399-7000, and we will set a time to meet with you and talk about your legal options. There is no charge for the initial consultation. We do not charge legal fees until you get compensation.

  • Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases in Washington State

    ClockYou must file a lawsuit for dog bite injuries within three years in Washington State or you will lose your right to recover compensation for your damages. There are different types of dog bite injuries and health issues that can arise from them, but they are all categorized as personal injury, thus it is bound by this three-year statute of limitations and applies to dog bite cases in Washington State.

    Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

    Under some circumstances, the court will toll or suspend the state of limitations. Most of these situations involve either:

    • The plaintiff (injured person) cannot legally file a lawsuit due to lack of capacity, such as being under the age of eighteen, or
    • The defendant cannot be the subject of a lawsuit because of military duty, having left the state, or having gone into hiding.

    When the Defendant’s Actions Can Toll the Statute of Limitations

    If the dog owner is not a resident of Washington State, she might try to prevent you from suing her by staying outside of the state until the three-year deadline expires. This tactic will not work, however, because our laws say that the time limits will not run while a defendant leaves the state, lives elsewhere, or conceals herself. This extension of the statute is known as “tolling.” The same provision applies to Washington State residents who leave the state or hide to keep plaintiffs from serving them with lawsuits.

    Example of tolling the statute of limitations. Let’s say that defendant Dave owned a dog that attacked and mauled plaintiff Pam. Fearing a lawsuit with a massive damages award, Dave left the country and stayed out of the public eye. Plaintiff Pam tried unsuccessfully to find him. After three years, Dave returned to Washington, thinking that Pam could no longer sue him for the dog bite. Fortunately for Pam, our state law does not count the time Dave was in hiding toward the three-year statute of limitations. The clock does not start to run until Dave comes out of concealment.

    When the Law Considers a Lawsuit Filed for Purposes of the Statute of Limitations

    You must either file the complaint with the court or serve the summons on the defendant to satisfy the requirement of commencing a lawsuit. You must accomplish both filing the complaint and service of the summons in compliance with the state law to be timely. This means that:

    • If you filed the complaint before you served the summons, you must accomplish service of the summons personally or start service by publication within 90 days of when you filed the complaint.
    • If you served the complaint personally or by publication before you filed the complaint, you must file the complaint with the court within 90 days of when you served the summons.

    If you miss these deadlines, even if the first action took place before the three-year statute of limitations expired, the law will not consider the lawsuit as commenced in time. If you miss the deadline, you cannot file your lawsuit. Find out more about whether your dog bite case will go to court.

    What We Have to Show in a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Washington State

    Our 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."

    All we have to show is that you were:

    • In a public place or lawfully on private property when the dog bit you, and
    • That you were not trespassing or bitten due to the lawful use of a police dog.

    Once we establish those factors, we then identify the owner and make a claim for your damages.

    Dog Owner’s Defense as to the Viciousness of the Dog

    As you can see, the statute specifies that the owner is liable for damages regardless of whether the dog had ever been vicious before. The dog owner might deny being aware of the dog’s viciousness in the event that the dog had bitten someone in the past, but the statute also makes that denial irrelevant. There is no “one free bite” rule in our state. Contact our firm at 425-399-7000 should you have any questions regarding the three-year statute of limitations for dog bite cases in Washington State.

    How to Get Help for a Dog Bite Case in Washington State

    You do not have to navigate the complexities of a dog bit case alone. At Max Meyers Law, PLLC, we take care of those issues for our clients. Just make sure that you do not delay in coming to talk with us so that you do not miss the deadlines imposed by the statute of limitations which would be three years for dog bite cases in Washington State.

    We can meet with you at no cost to you to evaluate your claim for compensation for your dog bite injuries. Call us at 425-399-7000, and we will arrange your free consultation.

  • What Are the Dog Bite Laws in Washington State?

    Beware of Dog SignIf you have experienced the terror of a dog attack, you might wonder how the law can allow this to happen. Our state statutes are supposed to protect us and make it safe for us to walk around peaceably without fearing that animals will maul us.

    The laws of Washington state do offer some protection by making owners responsible for paying whatever damage their dogs cause when they bite people. Here is the language of the statute:

    “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.”

    Who Is Liable Under Washington State’s Dog Bite Statute

    The owner is the one liable when a dog bites someone. So, if some kids take the family dog for a walk and the animal bites you, the owner has to pay your damages. It is not a defense that the children could not control the animal or that the owner did not permit the kids to walk the dog.

    Dog Breeds Do Not Affect Your Right to Compensation

    Legislation in some parts of the United States targets specific breeds, but the law in our state cares more about the victim than the breed of the dog. It does not matter if the dog that bit you is a massive St. Bernard or a tiny Chihuahua. The law says “any dog.”

    Who Gets the Protection of Washington State’s Dog Bite Law

    The law protects “any person,” who got bitten when they were:

    • In any public place, or
    • Lawfully on private property

    Trespassers cannot sue the dog owner for their dog bite damages.

    No Cap on the Damages for Dog Bites

    The owner has to pay “such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten.” Notice that the law does not say something like “up to $50,000,” or any other limiting language. Whatever damages you sustained from the dog bite are the responsibility of the owner.

    So, if you had a $3,000 emergency room bill and did not need additional medical care, the owner has to pay the $3,000 expense. On the other hand, if a dog bit someone in the face and the person needed several reconstructive and plastic surgeries, with medical bills totaling over $200,000, the dog owner is liable for that amount.

    No Free Bite Rule in Washington State

    In many states, you cannot hold the owner responsible for your damages unless the dog previously bit you or someone else. Known as the “one bite” or “one free bite” rule, this law puts the burden on the injured person to investigate and prove what the dog did in the past. Washington State protects dog bite victims and does not treat you differently because of the animal’s history.

    It is also no defense in our state for the owner to declare that the dog has always been gentle. The law says the owner is responsible for the bite damages “regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.”

    No Negligence Required

    In most personal injury lawsuits, you have to prove that the person who caused your injury was careless or negligent. Thanks to Washington State’s dog bite statute, you do not have to show any negligence on the part of the animal’s owner. Our state law makes dog owners strictly liable to people their dog’s bite unless the victim is a trespasser.

    Local Dog Leash Laws

    Many municipalities throughout the state of Washington require that pet owners keep their dogs and other domestic animals on leashes whenever the animals are in public places. State law does not require the use of leashes except in state parks.

    If a dog is violating the local leash law when the animal bites you, the owner can be subject to fines and other consequences in addition to having to pay your damages. Also, a judge and jury are likely to “throw the book at” a dog owner who refuses to obey the local ordinances, resulting in the injury of an innocent person.

    Washington State Law on Reporting Dog Bites

    Health care providers must report animal bites if they suspect that a human experienced possible exposure to rabies. They must notify public health authorities to prevent and “control communicable and noninfectious diseases” throughout the state.

    The health care provider’s records can be valuable evidence for us to prove your dog bite damages case. The report will contain information about your case that can establish the owner’s liability for your losses.

    How to Get Help for a Dog Bite Case in Washington State

    You can meet with us for free to find out if you might have a claim for compensation for your dog bite injuries. Call us at 425-399-7000, and we will arrange your no-cost consultation.

  • How Much Is a Dog Bite Settlement?

    Gavel on Top of Money Symbolizing a SettlementEvery dog bite situation is unique, so there is not one set dollar amount for all dog bite settlements. We can, however, explore the common topics that tend to affect how much compensation you can get in these claims. Here are seven factors that can impact the value of your dog bite case:

    1. Medical treatment. You should always get professional medical treatment right away for a dog bite injury. The trauma professionals will clean your wounds to minimize the risk of infection, repair tissue damage, administer painkillers, and call in surgeons or other specialists if appropriate. The emergency room personnel will also assess the risk of exposure to rabies            and determine if you need to undergo a series of rabies shots. Although these injections are painful, they are the only hope for people bitten by an animal with     rabies. Once symptoms of rabies show up, there is no treatment. The costs of all the medical treatment you needed because of the dog attack will      be part of your damages claim. Your medical records will also serve as valuable    evidence that the dog bite caused your injuries.
    2. Lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might not be able to work for a while after a dog bite. You can collect compensation for the income you missed out on because of the attack, including recuperating time afterward.
    3. Ongoing medical care. You might need follow-up surgeries, physical therapy, or other medical treatment after the initial trauma care. As long as we can link these services to the dog bite, they are compensable.
    4. Decreased earning potential. A significant dog attack can cause you to be unable to make as much money as before. For example, if a carpenter suffers shoulder damage from a dog bite incident, he might not be able to perform all the tasks of his job. If he has to take a lower-paying job, the difference in his income can be part of his claim.
    5. Disfigurement. In addition to physical harm, terror, and pain, dog bites can be disfiguring. Dogs often go for the face and hands, causing disfiguring injuries. A mauling can subject a victim to the need for multiple reconstructive surgeries and scar revision procedures. The best medical care cannot always erase the scars of a dog attack.
    6. Disability. Dog bites can rip flesh apart and crush bones. The deep puncture wounds from a dog’s teeth and powerful jaws can destroy muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. You can lose the use of your hands, arms, or legs. Some catastrophic dog attacks can leave the victim unable to work. When this happens, the dog owner is responsible for the disability of the victim.  
    7. Complications. Dog bites are particularly prone to infection. A dog’s saliva carries many types of harmful bacteria. Since the dog’s teeth can carry the bacteria deep into a victim, an infection can develop deep in your muscles or other tissue. Some of these infections are lethal, and others can be debilitating. If you suffer different types of complications from the dog bite, the owner can be liable for those damages, as well.

    What We Have to Prove for the Defendant to Be Liable for Your Injuries

    Most personal injuries lawsuits make you prove that the defendant was negligent and that his carelessness caused your injuries. Dog bites in Washington State, however, are strict liability cases. That means that, no matter how careful the owner was, he is liable if his dog bites someone.

    There are two exceptions to the strict liability for dog bites rule in Washington State:

    • Trespassers
    • Lawful actions using police dogs

    For all other dog bite injuries in Washington State, under the legal theory of strict liability, we must prove these elements:

    • A dog bit you.
    • The defendant owned the dog that bit you.
    • The dog attacked you when you were in any public place or lawfully on private property.
    • You were not trespassing at the time of the dog bite.
    • Your bite was not the result of the lawful use of a police dog.

    Note that we do not have to prove that the dog had bitten someone before you or that the owner knew the dog was vicious. Washington State does not have a “one free bite” rule. Even if the dog was as docile as a lamb in the past, the owner is liable for all damages the victim suffers when his dog bites someone.

    How to Get Help for Your Dog Bite Claim

    The team at Max Meyers Law can investigate the dog attack, collect the evidence to prove liability, gather the proof of your damages, negotiate with the insurance company, and see your case through trial. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation. There is no obligation, and we do not charge legal fees until you get compensation.

  • Is the Owner Liable for a Dog Bite?

    Dog Owner Walking DogIf you were the victim of a dog bite, you probably experienced pain and physical injuries. While some people might think that there is nothing you can do about your losses if an animal bit you, that is not necessarily the case. Washington State law protects people from vicious dogs and makes their owners pay for the harm they cause.

    The Washington State Dog Bite Statute

    Our state protects dog bite victims by making the animal’s owner financially liable. RCW 16.08.040 provides 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.”

    Examples of Dog Bite Liability

    The owner can be liable in situations like these:

    • You were walking, running, or otherwise present in a public area, such as on a sidewalk, street, or park.
    • You were on the job performing your required tasks, like delivering mail or packages or reading a water or electric meter, whether you were on private or public property at the time of the attack.
    • You were on your own property or legally present on anyone else’s property.

    Damages the Owner Has to Pay

    The law provides that the owner has to pay “for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten.”

    We can seek compensation for your economic damages, like:

    • All reasonable medical expenses related to the injury, including plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dog bites can be disfiguring, and people often need and want to remove or minimize the scars. The emergency room, doctors, surgical, hospital, physical and occupational therapy, and other medical costs are compensable.
    • Lost wages if you missed work because of the injury, surgeries, therapy, and recuperation time.

    We can also pursue your non-economic damages, such as:

    • Physical pain
    • Mental suffering and anguish
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which many dog bite victims suffer
    • Disfigurement
    • Loss of enjoyment of life, if the experience causes you to be unable to do things you used to enjoy, like going for walks or riding your bike, out of fear of being attacked again

    Dog Bites and Homeowner’s Insurance

    Many homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites. If the person whose dog bit you does not have homeowner’s insurance that will pay your damages, we can help you explore other options for recovering compensation for your damages.

    Liability for Dog Bites to Trespassers

    The statute does not make owners liable for dog bites if a trespasser comes on their property. There is only liability to people in public places or people who are lawfully on private property.

    What Happens if the Dog’s Owner Claims the Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before

    Faced with a lawsuit for monetary compensation, a dog owner might try to avoid having to pay for your damages. Some people will deny anything that is adverse to them.

    But the statute makes the dog owner liable “regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

    Liability for Police Dog Bites

    If a law enforcement officer uses a police dog within the bounds of the law and the animal bites someone, the bitten person cannot bring a lawsuit under RCW 16.08.040. The statute specifically excludes the lawful application of police dogs from liability.

    How We Prove Your Dog Bite Case

    We will gather the evidence to build your claim for compensation. Here is how we will establish what happened and what you suffered:

    The factual allegations: we can use the police or incident report, animal control services report, your testimony, and other eyewitnesses.

    The medical expenses: we will establish the amount of these costs through your medical records and invoices. Your medical records can also link your treatment and injuries to the dog bite, which is essential for proving causation.

    Your lost wages: we show how much time you missed from work. If you are self-employed, we will use other available records.

    Your non-economic losses: we support your claim for things like pain and suffering by performing calculations and using your testimony and medical records.

    Getting Legal Help for a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Washington State

    You do not have to puzzle through the legal technicalities to determine whether you have a viable lawsuit if you experienced a dog bite. All you need to do is call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000. We will explain your legal options. We do not charge legal fees until you get compensation.

  • How Do I Report a Dog Bite in King County?

    Dog BarkingDog bites are significant medical issues for the person bitten and public health issues for the community at large. There is no cure for rabies once the symptoms appear. You should always get immediate medical attention after a dog bite so a health care professional can assess whether you need to undergo a series of rabies shots. As soon as you address the medical issues, you might need to report the dog bite to the authorities.

    When You Need to Report the Dog Bite to Animal Control

    The Public Health Department for Seattle & King County mandates that the owner should confine and observe the animal for 10 days after the bite. If confinement and observation are not possible, such as in the case of a stray or wild dog, you should report the bite to the local animal control agency where the dog lives. If you do not know where the animal lives, report to the agency for the location where the bite happened.

    How to Contact Your Local Animal Control Agency in King County

    Multiple animal control agencies serve residents of King County. You should call the agency for the appropriate location as follows:

    • Seattle Animal Shelter: 206-386-7387
    • Cities of Algona, Pacific, and Milton: 253-841-5595
    • City of Burien: 206-241-4647
    • City of Des Moines: 206-870-6549
    • City of Federal Way: 253-835-7387
    • City of Medina: 425-233-6420 or 425-233-6400
    • City of Normandy Park: 206-248-7603
    • City of Renton: 425-430-6850
    • City of Skykomish: 360-677-2388
    • Other cities and unincorporated areas should call this number for Regional Animal Services of King County: 206-296-7387

    Confining an Animal After a Dog Bite in King County

    If the dog that bit you gets sick or dies within the 10 days, you need to call the Department of Public Health at 206-296-4774 to see if it is necessary to have the remains tested for rabies.

    During the confinement, you need to observe the dog every day. For the entire 10 days, DO NOT:

    • Let the dog escape.
    • Allow the dog to be in the yard by itself or run loose.
    • Take it off of the property even in your vehicle, for a walk, or to a dog park.
    • Let any people, pets, or wild animals have any contact with the animal.
    • Vaccinate the dog for rabies within the 10-day confinement – but if its rabies shots are not current, DO get it vaccinated after the 10th day.
    • Sell, give away, destroy, or dispose of the animal.

    Risk Factors and Dog Bites

    There is a low risk of rabies throughout the state of Washington, but it can happen. Your highest risk factors of contracting rabies from a dog bite or scratch are if the injury occurred:

    • When you were outside of the United States
    • From an animal brought into the U.S. from another country during the last six months
    • From an animal that has been in contact with bats or other wild animals
    • From a hybrid dog, in other words, a dog that is a mixture of domestic and wild
    • From a dog that was sick and not behaving the way it usually does
    • From a wild animal, even if someone has made a pet of the dog

    Mandated Reporting of Dog Bites

    Washington State law requires that all healthcare providers immediately report animal bites to public health authorities (the local health department) when there is a suspicion that the bite has exposed a human to rabies.

    Public Nuisances and Vicious Dogs

    You can report a dog bite to your local animal control for them to be on notice that the animal might be a public nuisance or a vicious animal. Each designation carries different consequences.

    If a dog attacks, bites or tries to bite one or more persons two or more times within a two-year period, it is a public nuisance. The authorities can impound and dispose of the animal.

    A dog that endangers the safety of people, other animals, or property because of its tendency to attack or bite people or domesticated animals without provocation is a vicious animal. The authorities can investigate and require necessary measures to protect the public or can impound the animal. The county can charge the owner with a criminal misdemeanor.

    How to Get Legal Help for a Dog Bite in King County

    If you or someone close to you has experienced a dog bite, call Max Meyers Law for help with your legal case. There is no charge for the consultation. Call 425-399-7000 for your free case evaluation.