How an Attorney Can Assist You in Your Dog Bite Case

By Peter DePaolis

A Virginia dog bite lawyer can help you with insurance claims after a dog bite injury. They can also help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to accept liability for the claim or pay a reasonable settlement amount. Regardless of the severity of your dog bite injury, it is wise to take advantage of a free consultation with a lawyer to learn about your legal options.

Proving Liability for a Dog Bite Case in Virginia 

Virginia has no specific statute that addresses a dog owner’s liability if their dog injures someone. Instead, Virginia has adopted the “one bite rule” for dog bite cases. The injured party must prove that the dog owner knew or should have known the dog was aggressive or had a propensity for aggression to be liable for damages. 

Generally, the knowledge that a dog has a tendency to bite would come from the dog biting someone in the past (i.e., the one-bite rule). However, the dog does not need to bite someone for the dog owner to “know” the dog has vicious or aggressive tendencies. 

If the dog has been aggressive in the past, the dog owner “should have reasonably assumed” the dog could bite or attack someone. Therefore, the owner had a duty to prevent their dog from injuring someone.

A dog owner could also be liable under negligence and negligence per se. If the dog owner is negligent, they fail to take reasonable care to prevent the dog from biting someone. You must prove the dog owner owed you a duty of care and breached the duty of care. The dog owner’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your injuries and damages. 

The Code of Virginia §3.2-6540 defines a dangerous dog. It also requires individuals who own a dangerous dog to take special precautions to prevent their dog from attacking someone again. Failing to take the steps required by the code is unlawful. 

By breaking the law, the dog owner could be liable under a claim of negligence per se. There would be a rebuttable presumption of liability for damages because the dog owner broke the law.

A Virginia dog bite lawyer understands these complex laws and legal standards. They gather evidence and build a case based on the law to hold the dog owner liable for your damages.

Recovering Damages for a Dog Bite Case in Virginia 

An attorney also helps you by calculating how much your dog bite case is worth based on your damages. An injured party can receive compensation for economic damages, including loss of income and medical bills. They can also recover compensation for their non-economic damages, including disfigurement, pain, suffering, and impairments.

Insurance companies routinely undervalue damages in personal injury cases. The insurance adjuster will not tell you if you agree to a settlement offer that is far below the actual value of your claim. A Virginia personal injury attorney knows the value of your dog bite case and fights to get you that amount in a settlement or jury verdict. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys 

Dog bite cases can be challenging to win. Insurance companies, dog owners, and at-fault parties may blame you for causing the dog to attack. Our lawyers at Koonz McKenney Johnson DePaulis understand these issues and are ready to help you recover the money you deserve for a dog bite case. Reach out to our office today for help with your case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.