If you or a loved one were injured by a dog in Tappahannock or the surrounding area, you may have suffered extensive harm. While some dog bites are minor, other dog attacks can cause serious injuries, disfigurement, or even death.
The experienced dog bite attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff can help. Dog bite cases often require investigation to determine the history of the dog’s interactions with people. We work with experienced investigators to seek just compensation for our clients’ injuries.
We work with all individuals harmed by dogs in any manner, including:
Attacks (such as mauling);
Chasing, if the chasing results in trauma or other harm (such as a child pedaling a bicycle into traffic in an attempt to escape the dog).
Dog Bite Laws in Tappahannock
State law contains no specific provision for dog bites that result in injuries. But it does contain provisions for injured people to obtain damage compensation from persons responsible for harming them. These provisions center around the concept of negligence. Negligence is a violation of the duty of care that an individual owes to others.
“Duty of care” is not a familiar term to most people, but we all act on it every day without knowing it. When you drive a car or other vehicle, for example, you know that you are not supposed to run into any other vehicles or pedestrians! You do your best to obey the law and drive safely. Those obligations make up the duty of care that vehicle owners owe to others on the road.
Dog owners have an analogous duty of care, which is making sure that members of the public are reasonably safe around their dog. The duty of care may include leashing the dog when walking it, whether or not a leash law specifically applies to the area the dog is in.
Other examples of dog owner duty of care may include:
Restraining the dog;
Fencing the dog in a yard or other area;
Calling the dog off if it behaves in a threatening manner;
Training dogs; and
Warning visitors about dogs on the premises.
All of these obligations are designed to keep the public safe.
If negligence results in injury or other harm to someone, the negligent owner bears responsibility for that harm. They thus also bear, according to the law, financial responsibility for compensating the injured individual. Legally, this is known as liability.
The One-Bite Rule
Virginia generally follows a legal doctrine known as the one-bite rule.
This rule holds that the owner is only negligent if they knew or had reason to know that the dog posed a threat to people. If the dog bit someone previously, for example, that bite should make the owner aware of potential future danger. (This is why it’s known as the one-bite rule!)
Bites, by the way, are not the only evidence that the dog poses a threat. Growling, lowering the head in a threatening manner, barking, chasing, or even jumping repeatedly at a fence when people go by are all examples of aggressive behavior. Owners need to protect the public from such dogs.
The one-bite rule affects victims this way: to prove negligence, you must show that the owner knew or should reasonably have known that the dog posed a threat to you and other members of the public.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove Negligence in a Tappahannock Dog Bite Case?
Your attorney can work with you to prove negligence if you suffer harm from a dog. But the question naturally arises: what evidence is needed to prove negligence?
The following can constitute evidence in a dog-bite case:
Previous records of the dog behaving aggressively or attacking, by law enforcement or animal control authorities;
Pictures, videos, or audio recordings of the dog’s aggressive behavior or attacks;
Eyewitness testimony about the dog’s behavior, such as neighbors who have seen it behaving aggressively;
Pictures or videos of other injuries the dog caused;
Medical records of such injuries (records of doctor’s office visits, emergency room treatment, diagnoses, and so on); and
Notes about the dog’s behavior.
Victims and their attorneys may also prove negligence by pointing out laws concerning dog control. If, for example, you are attacked in a park or other area where leashing dogs is the law and the dog was not on a leash, that may be enough to prove the owner’s negligence.
Are Dog Bites Against the Law in Virginia?
The above information concerns personal injury law, which is heard in civil court.
But bites by known “dangerous dogs” in Virginia also can come with criminal penalties in certain circumstances. “Dangerous dogs” are dogs whose attacks have killed or injured another person or a domestic pet.
So yes, certain dog bites are against the law! In other words, owners may face criminal penalties. These penalties are charged by law enforcement and heard in criminal court, not in civil court. The two court systems are entirely separate.
Damage Compensation for Tappahannock Dog Bites and Attacks
Injured parties can seek compensation for the following.
Medical bills, including doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, emergency room transport, and more.
Lost wages, if the attack and treatment caused the victim to miss time at work.
Personal property, if the attack damaged property such as clothing, a bicycle, etc.
Pain and suffering, for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering.
The Statute of Limitations for Tappahannock Dog Bites
Injured people have two years from the date of the attack to bring a lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations.
It’s advisable, however, to discuss the incident with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after it happens. Memories fade and evidence might disappear. Discussing a case while it’s fresh in your memory is the most prudent course of action.
If You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer in Tappahannock
In many cases, dog bites are traumatic to the person who was bitten, particularly small children and older people, who are disproportionately affected by dog attacks. Dogs bite nearly 5 million people every year in the United States and roughly half of those victims are children between the ages of five and nine.
If a dog mauled you or your child, the experienced Tappahannock dog bite attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff can work on your dog bite case with compassion and care. Our first consultation is always free. Contact us or dial (804) 358-1568 today to discuss your case.
“I had a really great experience with Ward and his staff. He constantly kept me up to date with my case and allowed me to put alot of money in my pocket which helped me with my bills. I am forever grateful to this firm for how they handled my accident. I hope I never get injured again but if I do I know who I am calling. Thanks again Ward and staff!”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Emroch & Kilduff
900 S Church LnTappahannock, VA 22560
Phone: (804) 445-1507
Toll-free: (877) 445-1508
Schedule A Free Case Evaluation
If you have been injured because of someone else s negligence, contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation. For your convenience, Emroch & Kilduff has two office locations in Virginia: Richmond and Tappahannock.