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If a dog bites me, what do I need to know?

By Ken Gibson on April 13, 2016

Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and more than 800,000 of those require medical attention, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, young children are often the victims of dog bites, with injuries to their head and face. Gloucester and Mathews, Virginia, residents have had several injuries from dogs recently, according to the Gazette-Journal.

Beyond biting, dogs can cause other injuries. For example, a dog may jump on someone and knock him down, or cause a bike rider to fall off her bike, often leading to broken bones.

Owners may be held responsible under one of the following categories of law:

  • The “one-bite” law. This law states that a dog owner is liable for injuries his dog causes if he had reason to know the dog might cause that type of injury.Some people think that means that every dog gets a “free bite,” but that isn’t necessarily true. While the first bite does put the owner “on notice” that his dog may dangerous, the dog could also have growled threateningly, snapped, or jumped on someone in the past, which could also be considered a warning.At the same time, owners may not be held liable if the injured person provoked the dog or knowingly risked being injured by the dog.
  • Unreasonable carelessness. If the owner shows negligence in controlling his dog, the owner will likely be held responsible. For example, if an aggressive dog was in his pen, but the gate was left unlatched and the dog escaped and injured someone, the owner could be considered liable.

Also important to know:

  • Most dog bites happen close to home. A significant number of dog bite attacks happen near the victim’s home or neighborhood. And understandably, most people do not want to “sue” a neighbor or a family member who may own a dangerous dog.
  • But what many people don’t know is that most dog bite injuries are covered by a dog owner’s or homeowner’s insurance policy. And serious dog bite injuries can result in significant medical expenses that can best be addressed by the dog owner’s insurance policy.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog, contact an attorney at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys to protect your rights.

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