Bitten in Virginia? Here are your legal options.

Dog bites aren’t just painful; the experience was likely frightening. What’s worse, is that victims often don’t know where to seek help for the next steps. If you’ve recently been bitten by a dog in Virginia, the Virginia dog bite  attorneys at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen are here to help. 

Navigating the legal process to obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve is always our goal. In this post, we will break down all you need to know about the steps you should take if you’ve been bitten by a dog. 

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Dog bites, by the numbers

According to the Virginia Department of Health:

Virginia’s “one-bite rule” 

Many people believe that Virginia operates under a legal concept known as the “one-bite rule.” The idea behind the “one-bite rule” is that a dog gets one “free bite” before its owner is held legally responsible for any injuries. This rule encompasses the idea that a dog owner has to have some form of notice that their dog has inclinations or characteristics that would make them inclined to cause injury. While a prior bite is a strong indicator of violence, the “one bite rule” is not iron-clad in Virginia. 

Even if the dog hasn’t bitten anyone before, you may still have a case. However, you must prove that the owner was negligent in controlling the animal. This could involve:

  • Failing to leash the dog in public spaces
  • Not properly securing the dog on their property
  • Ignoring warning signs of aggression
  • Encouraging or provoking the dog to attack

Additionally, Virginia recognizes “negligence per se,” which means you may be able to pursue compensation if the dog owner violated a local leash law or other animal control ordinance.

Proving your dog bite case

As the sun sets over the natural park, a menacing dog prepares to sink its teeth into a man's arm, with the colorful sky and clouds.

Building a strong dog bite case requires gathering evidence such as:

  • Medical records documenting your injuries and treatment
  • Photos of your injuries and the scene of the incident
  • Witness statements from anyone who saw the attack or knows the dog’s history of violence
  • Any documentation of the dog’s history, such as previous bite reports
  • Reporting the attack to your local police department or animal control, so they can investigate and document the attack

Our experienced dog bite lawyers understand the complexities of these cases, and can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.

Recovering damages after a dog bite

If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses: This includes costs for initial treatment, ongoing care, and potential future medical needs.
  • Lost wages: If you miss work due to your injuries, you can be compensated for your lost income.
  • Pain and suffering: This includes physical and emotional distress caused by the attack.
  • Scarring and disfigurement: If the bite leaves lasting physical marks, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

Remember, seeking legal representation can significantly improve your chances of securing fair and full compensation for your injuries.

 A man bears a scar on his arm, a testament to a vicious dog's bite.

Other Considerations With Dog Bite Cases

  • Do not engage with the dog or owner. This can further aggravate the situation and put you at risk.
  • Seek legal advice: A qualified personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process and protect your rights.

How to navigate insurance claim challenges with dog bites 

While Virginia’s “one-bite rule” simplifies liability in some cases, insurance companies employ various tactics to challenge your claim. Don’t be discouraged. Our experienced legal team has encountered these strategies numerous times, and we know how to effectively counter them. Here are some common roadblocks you may face:

  1. Denying liability: Insurance companies may argue that the dog owner was not negligent or that the injured person had provoked the attack. Witness statements, photos, and documentation of prior aggressive behavior become crucial to establish the true picture and counter such claims. Your attorney can gather and present this evidence to build a strong case against the insurance company’s narrative.
  2. Questioning severity of injuries: Insurance companies may minimize the extent of your injuries, which allows them to dispute medical bills or offer inadequate settlements. We work closely with medical professionals to document the full scope of your physical and emotional damages. This ensures fair compensation for your pain and suffering, scarring, and any long-term effects.
  3. Delay tactics: Insurance companies may drag out the process, hoping you will accept a lowball offer out of frustration. Your attorney understands these tactics and is prepared to handle them. We will proactively communicate with the insurance company, negotiate aggressively, and pursue litigation if necessary to secure the compensation you deserve.
  4. Contributory negligence: Virginia’s contributory negligence law means even a slight share of responsibility can impact your case. Virginia is one of only a handful of states that abide by this archaic rule, which states that even if the plaintiff is only 1% at fault for the injury, they can recover nothing. Insurance companies may try to take advantage of this rule and shift blame to the victim’s actions, highlighting potential contributory factors. Your attorney can anticipate these arguments and build a strong defense, ensuring any contributory negligence does not unfairly diminish your rightful compensation.
  5. Coverage disputes: Sometimes, insurance companies argue that the dog owner’s policy does not cover dog bites or has specific exclusions. The attorneys at Allen & Allen have a comprehensive knowledge of insurance policies and relevant Virginia laws. We can dissect the fine print, identify applicable coverages, and challenge any unreasonable denials based on technicalities.

I’ve been bitten by a dog. What do I do? 

If you or a loved one experienced the frightening attack of a dog, don’t let insurance companies dictate your path to recovery. Get the legal help you deserve. Contact a Virginia personal injury lawyers at Allen & Allen for a free consultation. We will assess your case, address your concerns, and guide you through the legal process step-by-step. Call today, at 866-388-1307.

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