Virginia Dog Bite Attorneys

If a dog bit you or a loved one, Virginia law allows you to hold the owners responsible for the violent acts of their dogs. You may seek compensation for the damages caused by the injury, including pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

At Emroch Kilduff, we represent injury victims who have suffered because of another’s actions and fight to get them the maximum payout for their losses.

Call us today for your free consultation with our Virginia dog bite lawyers.

​virginia dog bite attorneys

Table of Contents

Holding Virginia Dog Owners Responsible

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In many states, strict liability governs dog bite cases, which means the victim does not need to prove negligence or recklessness. They need only prove the bite occurred. However, in Virginia, dog bite victims must prove that the dog had a history of violence or that the owner was negligent or reckless. It is challenging for Virginia residents but surmountable with skilled legal help.

The One-Bite Rule

You can hold the owner liable when a dog bites you by proving that the owner knew their dog was dangerous. The statutory definition of a dangerous dog in Virginia is a dog that has either bitten, attacked, or injured a companion pet or has done the same to a person.

For example, if a dog bit a jogger last year while out in public, and then it bites another jogger, the owner may be held liable for the injuries it caused. However, if the injuries are minor, such as a scratch produced by a nip, then the one-bite rule may not apply.


Dog owners may be liable even if their K-9 does not have a history of injuring other pets or humans. Under general negligence laws, your dog bite attorney may be able to demonstrate the following essential elements of a negligence case and collect damages for you.


First and foremost, your lawyer will establish that the dog owner had a duty of care towards you, which means they were under an obligation to handle their dog in a reasonably safe manner.

Breach of Duty

The reasonable care that the dog owner must exercise includes actions that prevent their dog from harming others, including keeping it on a leash and preventing the K-9 from getting too close to the public or muzzling it if there is a risk of biting.

If the dog is at home, this duty of care to the public continues. Owners must secure their dogs in their yard and ensure they cannot attack pedestrians or bicycle riders going about their business. Broken fence panels or a worn-out leash that breaks are examples of breaches of duty.


Causation requires your Virginia dog bite lawyer to link the breach of duty to your injury. The evidence must demonstrate that the dog bit or injured you in some fashion.


Without damages, there is no lawsuit. In other words, if a dog bites you but causes no injury, there is no case. Through police and medical reports, the dog bite attorney representing you will demonstrate the presence and seriousness of your injuries.


Damages are the losses you incur because of an injury. If you have ever suffered an injury, you may have already experienced many of the losses that dog bite victims experience. In general, they fit into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages consist of those losses that directly affect your pocketbook and have a predetermined dollar value attached, such as:

  • Medical expenses associated with your injury, including hospital, prescription, and rehabilitation expenses
  • The loss of income
  • The loss of your ability to earn income in the future

Non-economic damages are just as impactful as economic ones, although they do not come with a set dollar figure.

The parties and the court determine the monetary value to assign to these types of losses, which include:

In rare cases, punitive damages may be available. While economic and non-economic damages exist to make an injury victim whole, punitive damages are there to punish a defendant. To win punitive damages in a dog bite case, your Virginia dog bite lawyer must prove that the defendant’s actions were willfully and wantonly negligent.

According to Virginia case law, when someone engages in willful and wanton conduct when they consciously disregard the rights and safety of other people and act in a way that is likely to cause harm.

When and How Dogs Bite?

There are over 75 million dogs in the United States, many of which are out in public regularly. Well-trained K-9s have no trouble behaving themselves while out. However, some dogs end up biting and injuring people.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dogs bite approximately 4.5 million people annually. That works out to over 12,500 bite victims every day, and 20 percent of these victims need medical attention.

Predicting when and how a dog will bite can be difficult. In some cases, dogs unexpectedly lash out to the surprise of their owners. However, many of the millions of yearly injuries that occur nationwide share a few characteristics. Being aware of the commonalities can help you avoid dangerous situations.

Common Injury Situations

According to the AMVA, dogs bite because they are reacting to some stimuli. The attack often comes when they find themselves in a stressful situation and bite as a release.

They may become frightened or startled for themselves or their pups and bite. They may also bite when they are sick. Observing these factors around dogs can help you spot potential biters and stay safe.

Typical Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries can vary from mild to catastrophic. In some cases, the dog bites the victim more than once, and other cases involve multiple dogs.

Generally speaking, the most common types of injuries victims sustain in these attacks include:

  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Rabies
  • Long-term pain
  • Internal injuries
  • Facial and skin deformities
  • Amputations
  • Infections
  • Sepsis
  • Death

In the case of each of these injuries, you would be potentially looking at high costs to your financial, physical, and emotional well-being. If death occurs, then the victim’s loved one can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.

What to Do After a Dog Bite in Virginia?

Rabies is always a risk after a dog bite. As such, you should immediately wash the wound with soap and water and seek immediate medical care from first responders or at a hospital or clinic. Additionally, you should identify the dog and the owner so you can contact them later.

Evidence is indispensable to your claim for compensation, so you should call the police to make a report. A report filed at the time of the incident offers a fresh snapshot of the incident and may include evidence, such as witness statements and police officer observations. You should also snap photos and shoot videos yourself if you are able.

Then, your next recommended step is to contact an experienced Virginia dog bite attorney to protect and pursue your claim. Insurance companies will do all they can to reduce or deny your claim without a seasoned attorney representing you.

Adjusters often attempt to get dog bite victims to make a statement that indicates a level of guilt in the bite, which would allow them to deny your claim. If your attorney takes point, you won’t have to worry about these and other ploys they use to pay you less.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions are common with dog bites and other personal injury cases. To help you understand more about dog bite claims and lawsuits, please review the answers below to some of the more frequent questions we receive.

How Much Does a Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer Cost?

Virginia dog bite lawyers typically take cases on a contingency basis, which means their fee for services rendered comes from the compensation you receive. In other words, you pay nothing upfront for representation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Dog Bite Claim?

If you suffer a dog bite in Virginia, you have two years to file a lawsuit for damages or resolve your claim with the insurance company representing the defendant. However, if the two years lapses, you may still have a valid claim if one of the exceptions to the statute of limitations applies.

One exception is when a minor is the injury victim. When this is the case, the statute of limitations does not start running until the child reaches 18 unless the parents are the ones bringing the suit. Injury victims experiencing a mental disability may also be entitled to a tolled statute of limitations until their faculties return.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Dog Bite Claim?

Unfortunately, there is no way to give an accurate and reliable prediction of how long your dog bite case may take without meeting with you. Even then, you may only receive an approximate time frame.

Claims can take time, especially if the insurance company refuses to pay just compensation. In such cases, we may need to go to trial to recover the compensation you need to pay for your injuries.

Fast and easy settlements from a dog owner’s insurance company are likely inadequate to cover your damages. The insurance company’s primary objective is to pay as little as possible. Therefore, recovering an amount that does justice to your damages may take some time.

How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?

The specific facts of your case and the extent of your injuries will determine how much your case is worth. Additionally, the claims process will involve negotiations that may have a significant impact on the amount of the final settlement. For example, a Virginia dog bite lawyer who is a fierce negotiator for their clients will likely recover more compensation than a victim negotiating on their own.

How Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help Me?

A dog bite lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injury. When you hire an attorney to represent you, their main focus will always be to recover the maximum compensation allowable for your case.

You can expect your advocate to go to any legal lengths to help make you whole, which includes engaging in tough negotiations with insurance company reps and rejecting low-ball offers for compensation.

Your dog bite attorney will also gather and analyze evidence for your claim. Surveillance video, witness testimony, and K-9 medical records are a few types of evidence your attorney will collect as part of their work on your behalf.

Additionally, your attorney will handle the procedural and other legal requirements relevant to your case, including timelines, deadlines, and filing requirements. Although you won’t be in charge of your case, your dog bite lawyer will keep you fully informed and in the loop.

Contact a Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer Today

Walter H. Emroch - Virginia Dog Bite Attorney
Walter H. Emroch, Dog Bite Lawyer in Virginia

You have the right to feel safe and secure from a dog attack when you are out in public. If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to call our Virginia dog bite lawyers at Emroch Kilduff. The dog owner potentially owes you significant compensation to cover the damages their dog caused.

Call (804) 358-1568 or contact us online today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Emroch & Kilduff, LLP – Richmond Office

3600 West Broad Street,
Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23230



Resolving a personal injury claim’ a “good experience?” Absolutely! The E&K Team brought exceptional knowledge, skill, and resource as we moved through my case step by step. Issues were resolved with timeliness, quality, and integrity, always focusing on me as the client. E&K was a gift, and I would recommend them with the highest regard. Thank you, Ward, Marla and all! – Maia Kling

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