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Dogs are unpredictable; even familiar and friendly dogs can suddenly and unexpectedly become defensive and aggressive and when they do, anyone in close proximity is in danger of being bitten or attacked. Dog bite victims in Federal Way and throughout the state are protected by Washington’s dog bite law, which holds the owner strictly liable in most cases for dog bite injuries. Our Federal Way dog bite attorneys are passionate about seeking recovery for dog bite victims because often the victims are among the most vulnerable members of society, children and the elderly.

Washington strict liability

The state of Washington takes dog bites and attacks seriously and holds owners strictly liable in most incidents. In Washington, if a person is bitten by a dog while on public property or legally on private property, the dog owner is responsible for all of the dog bite injuries and damages. That means the owner is responsible if his or her dog bites you when you are at a public park, a guest at a neighbor’s house, or at a place of business.

Exceptions to strict liability

There are several exceptions to Washington’s strict liability where an owner may not be strictly liable for dog bites.

  • Provocation – If an owner can prove that his or her dog was provoked by the dog bite victim, he or she will not be liable for the injuries. Provocation may include taunting, teasing, or physically harming a dog.
  • Police dogs – There is an exception to strict liability when a law enforcement dog bites a person (even innocent people) while conducting official police duty.
  • Trespassers – Dog owners are not strictly liable for dog bites when the victim is a trespasser.

It is important to remember that these are strict liability exceptions and it does not mean that you cannot recover for your injuries if you can prove that the owner’s negligence caused your injuries. For example, if you trespassed into your neighbor’s yard to collect your child’s ball that went over the fence and you were attacked by their vicious dog that was not locked in a pen, your neighbor may be liable for failing to lock up a dog with dangerous propensities.

Other dog injuries

Strict liability only applies to dog bites, so if you are injured by a dog in another manner, you do not have a strict liability claim. Other injuries may come from being knocked over or tripped by a dog. A loose dog that runs out in front of your bicycle or car causing an accident may also cause injuries. As explained above, even though strict liability does not apply, you may bring a case against the owner under a theory of negligence where you will show that the owner’s negligence, in not restraining or having control of his or her dog, caused your injuries.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries due to a dog bite or dog attack, contact a Federal Way dog bite attorney at Russell & Hill, PLLC to schedule a consultation. You deserve to recover for your injuries and damages and our attorneys will fight to see that it happens.

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