Dog Attack Injury Lawyers in Seattle
The Stritmatter Firm is known across the state for its representation in serious dog attack and dog mauling cases. We evaluate liability against both the dog owner and any business or government entity that may also be responsible for the dog’s conduct. Many times when a dog mauls and seriously injures a person, the dog is known to be vicious and was not properly controlled for months or years. This type of dog—and the owner—are a danger to our communities. Our cities and counties have processes in place to identify and deal with dogs that demonstrate a pattern of dangerous conduct. We, as a community have a right to use and rely on those processes. When they fail, there may be liability against entities other than the dog owner. The Stritmatter Firm specializes in this type of case.
Who is Liable in Dog Attack Cases?
In Washington, if a dog bites someone and that bite is unprovoked, the dog’s owner is liable. Even if the dog never bit anyone before. Even if you were a guest in the dog owner’s home, even if the owner was not the person handling the dog at the time of the incident, additionally, people handling or keeping the dog temporarily (such as dog walkers, dog daycares, or other people living with the dog) may also be liable if a dog attacks someone.
Additionally, if a dog bites a person or another animal, the owner and the dog may be subject to an administrative process to determine if the dog is “dangerous” or potentially dangerous. This is in addition to a lawsuit the injured person can bring against the owner. This administrative process can have serious consequences: requiring an owner to muzzle the dog in public, requiring the owner to have specific fencing at their home, or requiring the owner to remove the dog from the county or have the dog euthanized.
The administrative process for evaluating whether a dog is dangerous is usually controlled by local ordinances. You can access your city or county local ordinances online. It is smart to read your local animal ordinances to know what your legal responsibilities and rights are as a dog owner or as a victim of a dog attack.
What Evidence Do I Need to Provide for My Dog Attack Claim?
If you are attacked and seriously injured by a dog, the most important things you can do to gather evidence are:
- Call animal control and make a report. Animal control officers are extensions of law enforcement. They will take witness statements, take photographs, and issue citations of dangerous dog notices. Often times dog owners are more truthful in their statements to animal control when an incident has just occurred.
- Take photographs of injuries or property damage. To the extent you can, take photographs of any dog bite injuries or damage to your clothing or other property. If you are taken to the hospital, it is likely the hospital will take photographs of your injuries before treating you.
- Take photographs of the scene. To the extent you can, document where and how the dog was able to attack. Did the dog damage a fence and come through the fence? Did the attack happen on a public sidewalk? Is there blood or pieces of clothing or hair at the scene? It is important to document these things.
- Check for video footage. In this day and age many homes and businesses have cameras that show the street. Unfortunately often this footage is automatically deleted or “rolled over” withing hours or days. Reaching out to neighbors and business owners to see if they might have captured the incident can answer may questions about what happened.
- Get medical treatment. If you are attacked by a dog or your pet is attacked by a dog, do not delay seeking medical treatment. It is important to document the injuries and get appropriate treatment. Dog bites are prone to infection and something that does not seem serious can quickly become serious if you do not address it medically. If animal control is investigating the dog as dangerous, proof that you needed medical attention will be a factor.