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.

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