Bellingham and other cities in the state of Washington are often dog-friendly. The Bellingham Municipal Code requires that dogs over four months of age within the city have a license and only four dogs are allowed per household; the dog’s owner is required to certify under penalty of perjury that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies, and the certification must be signed by an accredited veterinarian. Often businesses around the state allow dogs to join their owners. Unfortunately, not all pets are predictable or friendly, and not all dog owners are responsible. These spaces are not always conducive to dogs’ comfort; dogs, like all living beings, can become stressed out and snap. If you or a loved one were injured by a dog, you should give the experienced Bellingham dog bite attorneys of Walton Law a call to discuss whether you have a claim. Our principal Chris Walton is an AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney and has been given numerous awards and recognitions.
Dog bites can be catastrophic, disfiguring, and even, sometimes, deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, around the country, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and more than 800,000 need medical attention. A dog’s owner, not his or her victim, should bear the costs of injuries inflicted.
A dog attack can be very serious, even if it’s from a small dog. Under section 16.08.040 of the Revised Code of Washington, a dog owner whose dog bites someone while the victim is in a public place or lawfully present on private property can be held responsible for the harm. The dog owner can also be held responsible regardless of the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s prior viciousness. This means our dog bite attorneys representing people in Bellingham may be able to hold a dog owner responsible for your injuries even if a dog unexpectedly bit you and had previously acted in a gentle manner. That is not true in every state.
Washington’s dog bite law is a strict liability law, while in some other states, there are more hurdles for a dog bite victim, such as proof that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s viciousness. However, the strict liability rule only applies to dog bites; it doesn’t address other attacks by dogs or other pets.
If you were bitten by a dog, you have a limited time within which to seek redress. As with other personal injury lawsuits, you have three years from the date of injury to seek damages. Often memories fade and evidence is destroyed. Dog owners have several defenses at their disposal, such as provocation and trespassing. It is wise to consult an experienced Bellingham dog bite lawyer as soon as you can.
Under Washington law, to hold the owner accountable, you must be lawfully on private or public property and not engage in illegal behavior to file a compensation claim. For example, you wouldn’t be able to file a lawsuit for damages if you were breaking into someone’s house and were bitten by that person’s dog. Likewise, if you were poking a dog with a stick, you’d be regarded as provoking the dog and would not be able to recover damages.
If we can establish liability, we may be able to recover compensation on your behalf. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering.
Consult an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney
While pets are an important part of many people’s lives, they can harm or act unpredictably. If you or your child were bitten by a dog, you likely need legal counsel. Our dog bite lawyers in Bellingham may be able to represent you. Our award-winning founder Chris Walton the highest possible rating (AV Preeminent) given by Martindale-Hubbell. We tailor representation to ensure thoughtful, personalized service to every client. We understand you might not be able to meet with us during normal business hours, so we offer both evening and weekend appointments. Call us at (866) 338-7079 or online to schedule a free consultation.