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Dog owners in Washington are strictly liable for dog bites

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Dog Bite

Our dogs are friendly and affectionate with us, and we would like to think they do not pose a threat to others. Still, dogs are animals, and sometimes instinct kicks in, and they behave aggressively, out of protection or fear. When a dog in Washington State lashes out and bites it could spell legal trouble both for the dog and the dog’s owner.

How does Washington law address dog bites?

Unlike some other states, Washington does not recognize a “one-bite” rule for dog bites. Instead, Washington follows the laws of strict liability when it comes to dog bites.

In Washington, a dog owner is responsible for their pet’s aggressive actions even if the owner had no reason to believe their pet had vicious tendencies or had behaved viciously in the past. If their dog bites someone who is lawfully on the premises of the attack and the attack was unprovoked, the dog bite victim may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the dog owner.

Personal injury claims for dog bites are based on owner negligence. All dog owners have a duty to keep their pets from biting others. If the pet bites, it is seen as a breach of this duty. If the breach causes injuries, such as puncture wounds, lacerations, disfigurement or emotional distress, then the dog’s owner may be held legally responsible for the harm their pet caused.

Dogs can be friendly, affectionate creatures, but dog owners should always keep an eye on their pet’s behaviors. After all, even the calmest canine can feel threatened or protective at times and may lash out by biting. Dog owners whose pets bite may be held legally responsible for the damages caused by their pet.