From state to state, the laws that govern animal behavior vary, and in Washington, the ins and outs of the state's regulations can be confusing for residents who are not familiar with them. Therefore, we are here to break down the stipulations of the law and offer an insider's look at the rules that stipulate how negligent pet owners, aggressive animals, and wounded victims each fare when an attack happens in Seattle.
In the state of Washington, the victims of dog bites and other animal attacks are given considerable favor – a benefit that should be not be disregarded or easily dismissed, because residents of many other states do not benefit in the same way. Simply put, Washington's dog bite statute favors the victims of these types of attacks. The law puts strict liability on the owner of a dog that has bitten another person, generally making it the owner's responsibility for any injuries that were sustained during the attack.
Special to the dog bite law established in Washington is the consideration of an owner's advance knowledge, also referred to as "scienter." This is a consideration that is not made in every state, and it pertains specifically to an owner's knowledge that the animal could be capable of any type of injurious behavior or attack prior to one actually happening. In essence, if it can be proven that a dog owner in Washington was aware of a pet's past indiscretions or the propensity for such, the owner (or keeper) of the animal can be held accountable for future misbehaviors of a similar nature.
Washington's dog bite law also calls into question behaviors that could be taken as negligent on the owner's behalf. These can include unreasonable failure to control the animal on any given day, as well as any type of owner inaction which could have resulted in harm to an innocent person. If it can be argued that negligent inaction is the proximate cause of a dog's attacks, and a victim's subsequent injuries, the dog owner will, again, be held responsible.
The one area in which Washington lawmakers have eased in regards to dog bite regulations is that concerning landowners. Generally, the law assumes that landlords will be protected from liability for any injuries that were incurred by a dog while on their premises. The exception to this rule, however, is if the attacking dog personally belongs to the landowner. Assuming that the canine is not the property of the landowner on whose premises the attack occurred, there will be no responsibility attributed to the landlord in question.
The information listed above is only some of the immense amount of information about dog bite laws that can be found in the state of Washington. Even more facets to this law exist which cannot be reasonably explained on paper. From negligence liability, to local ordinances liability, to statutory liability, many considerations are made when a dog bites or attacks another person in the state of Washington. What is most important to remember in these circumstances, is the undeniable fact that victims of dog bites are legally entitled to compensation, and an attorney should be obtained to help ensure that the victim rightfully receives the damages that are due to him or her at this time.
At Ward & Smith, PLLC, we recognize that dog bites are not to be taken lightly. Serious injuries and illnesses can develop from an animal attack of this nature, and if the owner of the canine is not legally held responsible, there is no way of ensuring that the victim will be compensated accordingly. Therefore, our personal injury practice extends to victims of dog bites and attacks. Under the direction of a Seattle personal injury lawyer at our office, victims can claim owner negligence, or one of the many other types of negligence that have been associated with cases of this nature. We encourage you to contact us today for more information about your potential case.