While most dogs are non-violent, dog bites do sometimes happen. In some cases, a dog bite can cause serious harm to the victim, leading to temporary or even permanent disabilities that can make it impossible to work or do the things you enjoy.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, dog owners are required to take all reasonable precautions to prevent their pets from harming other people. If they fail to do this and you suffer an injury as a result, you have the right to hold the owner accountable for their negligence.
Furthermore, the “one bite” rule applies in Virginia. This rule applies both to dogs and other animals people keep as pets.
What Is the “One Bite” Law?
The “one bite” law is a rule that allows a dog bite victim to claim compensation for injuries if the dog’s owner knew, or reasonably should have known, that their dog was dangerous. The reason it is called the “one bite” rule is that if a dog has ever bitten another person in a previous incident, that prior bite is enough grounds for the owner to have known that their dog posed a threat to the wellbeing of other people. The same rule applies if the dog has bitten, attacked, or caused injury to another dog or a cat.
You and your legal team should be able to provide evidence that the owner knew or should have known about a previous bite. This may include, for example, testimony from the individual who had been bitten on the prior occasion. If this testimony is accepted as truthful and accurate, the dog’s owner can be held liable for the victim’s injuries.
Are There Exceptions to the “One Bite” Rule?
Virginia law considers a dog not to be dangerous in the following circumstances:
- If a dog has attacked another dog or a cat, and a veterinarian determines that the dog or cat has not suffered a “serious injury” as a result
- If the attack happened to another animal that was owned by the same person
- If the attack occurred on the property of the attacking dog’s owner
- If a peace officer or animal control officer makes a determination that a human has received “a single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury”
Furthermore, the owner of an attacking dog may not be held liable in the following circumstances:
- If the person who was injured from the bite was at least partially at fault
- If the person who was injured was trespassing at the time of the attack
- If the person who was injured provoked the dog into attacking them
What if the Dog Wasn’t Considered Dangerous?
If you have received injuries from a dog bite but the dog had not previously attacked anyone before, you may still be able to claim compensation if you can prove that the owner did not exercise reasonable care in controlling the dog. For example, if the owner did not follow leash laws that applied at a certain place or time, the failure to do so may constitute negligence on their part. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether the owner exhibited “negligence per se.”
Contact a Virginia Beach Dog Bite Attorney
Because there are so many exceptions and provisions in the law, it is important to have a personal injury lawyer on your side. The Virginia Beach dog bite attorneys at Invictus Law will use their experience, skill, and resources to work toward recovering the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us today at 757-317-5125 for a case evaluation, and let us get to work for you.