Of the 5 million people that suffered dog bites last year, only about 16,000 were compensated for their injury. This is because each state adheres to different dog bite laws. Some are stricter, and others are quite lenient.
Virginia is a one-bite and contributory negligence state. This means that each dog gets “one free bite” before the owner is charged for their dog’s aggressive behavior. If the dog’s owner is found negligent, for example, disregarding a leash law in a public place, they can be charged regardless of the one-bite rule. Since some violations constitute negligence, charges can be filed. However, if all local ordinances are obeyed and the dog has never previously caused bodily harm, the owner may not be found liable, and the victim may not receive any compensation.
Virginia is one of only 19 states that still implement the one-bite law. The rest of the country has stricter standards and adhere to a “no free-bite” law. Since many Americans fall victim to vicious attacks and bites each year, legislation is pushing for all states to impose stricter laws to better protect citizens from aggressive animals.
Regardless your state’s laws on dog bites, there are a number of things you can do if you or a loved one is the victim of an attack. Identifying the dog is critical to proceeding with a claim for reimbursement or compensation. Even with the pain and suddenness of the event, make a mental note of the dog’s description and the location of the attack. If there are bystanders get their help.
Get yourself checked by a medical professional. Too often do dog attacks and bites result in rabies transmission or the need for facial reconstruction and other surgery. Seeking medical attention immediately is advised.
Consult with an experienced attorney for legal council after a dog bite. An attorney can represent your case, and aide in getting you the compensation you deserve for injuries and damages sustained. Having representation in a time of physical and psychological pain is important, and an experienced attorney can help guide you through the process of claim filing and legal action.