Dog attacks can be catastrophic, causing injuries that inflict long-lasting physical and emotional damages on victims. They are often the legal responsibility of the owner of the pet. A dog bite injury is a type of premises liability tort that could make the victim eligible for financial compensation. A pet owner may owe a victim money if he or she reasonably should have prevented the bite. If you or someone you love was injured in a dog attack, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. One or more parties may owe your family compensation.
It is critical to hire the right Fairfax dog bite lawyer for your injury claim; otherwise, you could end up settling for far less compensation than you require for your serious injuries. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we are trusted dog bite and animal attack lawyers in Fairfax, Virginia. Our attorneys have years of experience and can go to trial on behalf of clients, when necessary. Contact us today for a free legal consultation about your dog bite case.
Why Choose Our Law Firm for Fairfax Dog Bite Claims?
- We have helped hundreds of clients and maintained a positive reputation in the community of Fairfax, Virginia for more than 40 years.
- We focus all our efforts on each individual case, securing the best possible results through tailored and aggressive litigation strategies.
- We are active members of our community and leaders in our field. Our lawyers go above and beyond to make sure our clients have everything they need.
- We only charge clients for Fairfax dog bite injury claims if we succeed in securing them compensation. If we do not win, you will not pay.
When to Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer in Fairfax
Every year, dog attacks send over 14,000 victims to hospitals in the US. Some victims will never recover from their injuries. From a legal perspective, dog bite claims can be complicated. The pet owner may fight liability. His or her insurance company may use bad-faith tactics to convince you to settle for a lowball award. Meanwhile, your serious injuries could be costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages. Luckily, you do not have to handle your Fairfax dog bite injury claim alone.
Hiring an attorney can allow you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery while an experienced professional handles your financial one. A lawyer can take over complex processes connected to your dog bite injury claim, including filing your suit and providing proof of damages. An attorney can argue for maximum compensation from the liable party, whether that is the owner of the pet, the owner of the property or someone else. You can focus 100% of your energy on healing when you hire an attorney to handle your case.
Common Dog Bite Injuries in Fairfax, Virginia
Dog bite claims often deserve the attention of an attorney due to the life-changing nature of these injuries. When a dog attacks, the outcome can be catastrophic for a victim. The Fairfax personal injury lawyers at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP have decades of experience representing clients with a wide variety of injury types. Our Fairfax dog bite lawyers can help you no matter what kinds of injuries someone’s dog inflicted upon you or a loved one.
- Puncture wounds
- Degloving or avulsions
- Head or neck injuries
- Scalp injuries
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Muscle or tendon injuries
- Nerve damage
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional injuries
- Wrongful death
Aside from the propensity to cause devastating primary injuries, a dog attack also exposes a survivor to the risk of infection as a secondary injury. Infections are often associated with dog bite injuries due to bacteria found in dogs’ mouths. Open wounds from a dog attack could lead to complications such as cellulitis, staph, strep, MRSA, tetanus or capnocytophaga infections. Preventing infections generally requires painful treatments such as wound debridement and disinfection. A survivor may also need to receive rabies shots to prevent this deadly type of disease.
What Are the Psychological Effects of a Dog Attack?
Physical injuries are not the only concern for people involved in dog attacks. Victims, bystanders and family members can also suffer significant mental, emotional and psychological effects from a dog bite incident. Dog attacks are often violent in nature. They can be extremely traumatic for those directly involved as well as relatives who witness a dog attacking a loved one. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we fight not only to achieve fair recoveries for our clients’ physical injuries but for their emotional damages as well.
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Fears and dog phobias
- Nightmares or flashbacks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Psychological damages from dog attacks are especially prevalent in children. A child could develop a lifelong fear of dogs after surviving or witnessing a horrific attack. Emotional injuries in children can cause aggression, outbursts, regression, anxiety, personality changes, lower performance in school and many other issues. In Virginia, the courts permit accident victims to seek financial compensation for emotional injuries as well as physical damages. Our lawyers may be able to help you fight for fair compensation for all your losses, economic and noneconomic.
Fairfax, Virginia Dog Bite Laws
Recovering compensation for a dog bite injury takes navigating your state’s related civil laws. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, our lawyers can take care of this for you if we accept your case. In Virginia, you or your lawyer must prove the pet owner’s negligence to qualify for compensation for your bite injury. Section 3.2-6540 of the Code of Virginia enacts a one-bite rule for dog-related injury claims in the state. A one-bite rule means the pet owner must have known or reasonably should have known about the dog’s vicious propensities before the attack; in other words, the dog had bitten a person or domestic animal before.
The one-bite rule means it will be up to you, the plaintiff, or your lawyer to prove the defendant’s negligence and fault for the animal attack. Your lawyer must demonstrate through a preponderance of the evidence that the pet owner had reason to believe the dog was capable of biting or injuring someone, such as through a history of previous attacks. Then, your lawyer must prove the pet owner was negligent in failing to prevent the attack that injured you. Pet owner negligence can involve violating a city or state dog breed restriction, failing to properly restrain a pet, failing to leash-curb on walks, or failing to post warning signs on a property about a dangerous dog.
The State of Virginia has a universal law that prohibits pet owners from allowing their pets to run at large (Code of Virginia 3.2-6538). Breaking this law could be proof enough of a pet owner’s negligence to be able to hold him or her liable for the dog attack that injured you. Cases involving broken laws may enact the theory of negligence per se. The same is true if the pet owner broke any local or municipal dog laws. A lawyer may be able to collect evidence of a pet owner’s negligence or liability during an investigation into your dog bite injury case.
Virginia is also a contributory negligence state. This law holds that if an injured party contributed in any way to the accident in question, the courts will bar that party from financial recovery. If the defendant can prove that you were even partially responsible for the animal attack, therefore, such as by provoking the dog or trespassing on private property, this could eliminate your chance to recover compensation. The state’s strict contributory negligence law makes it even more important to hire a lawyer from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP to represent you during a dog bite claim.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury in Fairfax
Take immediate steps toward physical and financial recovery after a dog attack in Fairfax. Start by documenting the incident. Stay at the scene where the animal attack happened. Ask the owner of the pet to stay as well. Collect important information such as the dog owner’s name, contact number, address and insurance information. Ask for his or her homeowners insurance information, as this is the insurer that will most likely provide coverage for dog attacks. Then, continue your case with other steps to protect your rights.
- Ask about the dog. Verify whether the dog is up to date on all its shots and vaccinations.
- Document everything. Write down a description of the attack while it is still fresh in your mind. Include the names of any eyewitnesses.
- Call the police if you have serious injuries. If the dog inflicted serious injuries or the owner is refusing to cooperate, call 911 to report the attack.
- Take photographs. While still at the scene, take pictures of the location, the dog and your injuries. Continue taking pictures as your wounds heal.
- Go to the hospital. Get professional medical care if you have an open wound. A provider will need to clean the area thoroughly, apply antibiotics and administer other treatments. Severe dog attack injuries may require surgeries and skin grafts.
- Contact animal control. Report a severe attack to the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police. They can investigate and may quarantine the dog to check for rabies.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If given a treatment plan, follow it exactly. The insurer involved in your dog bite injury claim will verify whether you obeyed your doctor’s recommendations.
- Call the pet owner’s insurance company. File an insurance claim as soon as possible. Do not admit any fault or accept a settlement offer before you have given it to a lawyer for review.
- Collect copies of related reports. When they are available, obtain copies of your police report, accident report and medical records for use during your dog bite injury claim.
- Contact a dog bite injury lawyer. Call Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP at (703) 844-3472 for a dog bite injury consultation. We can help you with the rest of your case.
Unfortunately, Virginia’s contributory negligence and one-bite laws can make it difficult for dog attack survivors to obtain fair compensation for their damages. You may need a lawyer to help you hold a pet owner accountable. Contact us right away to discuss your dog bite injury with our lawyers for free. We can provide legal advice at no cost or obligation to hire our law firm. Our attorneys can guide you through the dog bite injury claims process in Fairfax from start to finish.
Compensation Available to Dog Bite Victims in Fairfax
The steps you take after a serious dog attack in Fairfax could determine how much money you receive in a settlement or judgment award. One of the best ways to maximize your financial outcome is to hire an attorney. Our dog bite injury lawyers can take immediate action to build a claim to damages on your behalf. We will fight to recover all possible types of damages.
- Past and future hospital bills
- Surgeries or treatments
- Medications and medical devices
- Past and future lost wages
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional damages
- Property damages
- Legal costs
- Punitive damages
The value of your dog bite injury claim will depend on factors such as the pet owner’s degree of negligence, the severity of your injuries, whether you will have permanent injuries, your age, income level and the cost of your medical bills. In most cases, victims with serious to catastrophic injuries will be eligible for higher recoveries than those with minor dog bite injuries. Discuss how much your claim might be worth with our lawyers today.
What Is the Dog Bite Injury Statute of Limitations in Virginia?
When a lawyer refers to a statute of limitations, he or she means the legally imposed time limit on your claim. All personal injury cases in Virginia have a time limit for filing. It is your responsibility to file your claim or speak to an attorney before the expiration of your statute of limitations. In general, you will have two years from the date of your dog bite injury to file a damage claim in Virginia. If you miss this statute of limitations, the courts will most likely refuse to hear your dog bite claim.
Contact a Fairfax Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Navigating Virginia’s dog bite laws, injury statutes, insurance settlement negotiations and/or a personal injury trial are all tasks we can take care of on your behalf at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. If you or a loved one has serious dog bite injuries, we can provide legal advice at no charge. Your family might be eligible for financial compensation from the owner of the dog or another party. We know how to handle dog injury cases based on negligence, negligence per se, one-bite liability and other legal grounds. Start your case with a free, in-depth review from one of our attorneys. Call (703) 844-3472 or contact us online to request yours today.