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Personal Injury Lawyers in Southwest Virginia, Virginia, and Nationally

Dog Bite and Pet Bite Injuries

Dog bites and injuries caused by other pets require prompt medical attention. In some cases you might need legal representation by a personal injury attorney experienced with dog bite and pet bite cases. We are experienced in handling dog bite cases. Such cases are typically the fault of the owner, and not the dog or pet. We will sort out the liability issues and also determine if there is insurance coverage to pay for your injuries due to a dog or pet owner’s negligent, wrongful actions. If the owner is at fault, we will represent you to recover your medical bills, any lost wages, your pain and suffering, and the humiliation and embarrassment that you endured due to any scarring.

Dogs are wonderful companions, helpers, and protectors. Most dogs will be friendly or will move away unless they feel threatened. Some dogs, however, will bite either because of immediate circumstances (eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies) or because they have been abused or trained to attack. (See our blog post, How to be Safe around Dogs.) If your child, you, your parent, or anyone else is bitten by dog or other animal, you should attend to the victim’s safety and physical injuries first. Then try to gather information about the dog and its owner. Call us. We can help you gather the necessary information and assess your situation. If it becomes appropriate, we will represent you in negotiating or filing suit for a financial settlement as appropriate.

Winning Financial Compensation for Injuries

Financial compensation of victims is typically paid in full by the dog owner’s Homeowners Insurance policy or Renter’s Insurance policy. This coverage is the “guest medical coverage” and it reimburses the victim’s medical costs up to the limit in the policy. This limit is often between $1000 and $5000.

In Virginia, the victim can receive compensation for the full range of his or her damages. This can include pain, mental suffering, permanent scarring, temporary or permanent disability, loss of future earning capacity, loss of quality of live, medical expenses to treat the injury, cosmetic services to improve the appearance of the injury, psychological counseling, damaged clothing, and loss of income. If the dog bite or attack is fatal, it may be appropriate to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In dog bite cases involving a dog that was known by the owner to be dangerous or vicious, punitive damages can be awarded to the victim in order to punish the dog owner. Because the purpose of this award is to punish the dog owner, punitive damages must be paid by the dog owner, not by his or her insurance company.

Occasionally, someone other than the dog’s owner can be held liable in a dog bite case. Examples include:

  • Those who “harbor” or “keep” the dog.
  • Schools or day care centers that allow dogs to mingle with the children.
  • Stores that allow customers to bring dogs into the store where other customers can trip on a leash or be bitten by the dog.
  • Animal control departments that allow a known dangerous dog to roam a neighborhood due to neglect.
  • Police handlers who allow their dogs to maul suspects or to bite anyone.
  • Employers can be held liable for injuries sustained by dogs that belong to and are used by employees in their work.

When to Contact Us about a Dog Bite or Attack

We are always available to dog bite or dog attack victims to answer questions, to help you take all appropriate steps and actions to support a possible lawsuit, or to begin to gather evidence for a lawsuit. We do not charge a fee for an initial consultation to assess the viability of your case.

You should definitely consult an attorney if any of the following facts apply to your injury:

  1. The dog bite or attack will result in permanent or long-term medical issues.
  2. The dog attack was unprovoked.
  3. The dog’s owner was in violation of a local “leash law” when the attack happened.
  4. The incident happened on public property.
  5. The dog that attacked was a Pit Bull Terrier or a Rottweiler.
  6. The dog that attacked has a history of other prior bites or attacks.
  7. The dog attack caused a death.

Some of the questions we will typically ask include:

  • Was the dog on a leash or a harness?
  • Was the dog on the owner’s property or was it roaming freely?
  • Was there any warning that a potentially dangerous dog was on the premises?
  • Was the dog “running at large” or had it just slipped away from the owner’s property momentarily?

Our attorneys understand and love dogs. But we understand the danger of dog bites and the injuries they cause. We have a history of handling dog bite and animal bite injuries. We can help you understand who is liable for injuries sustained and we can conduct the necessary investigation of the situation while you focus on your child or other loved one.

Bites or Attacks by Other Animals

Virginia law treats other domesticated animals and liability for injuries they inflict the same as dog bites or attacks. If you are injured by a bite or other injury inflicted by any animal, call us to discuss the nature of the attack and the likelihood of developing a case to recover just compensation.

Call Altizer Law, P.C.

If you, your child, or another loved one is injured by a dog bite or animal bite, it is important to first seek medical attention for the victim. Second, try to take pictures and gather information from all witnesses. Third, call Altizer Law, P.C. We will handle your legal case while you focus on healing or caring for your loved one. If you are entitled to financial compensation, we will represent you and your interests aggressively to obtain for you the best possible settlement under Virginia law.


Related Content:

How to Be Safe around Dogs

What to Do if You are Bitten by a Dog

Dog Bite Safety — Infographic