If a dog bites you in Virginia, state laws and case precedents determine liability and how you can pursue compensation after the incident. Don’t let the complexity of Virginia’s dog bite laws keep you from seeking justice. I, Ed Atkinson, want to empower all injured victims to fight for their recovery by providing straightforward legal guidance.
As a skilled dog bite lawyer in Virginia, I will help you hold the negligent pet owner responsible. My unique experience training, breeding, and competing with personal protection dogs (Belgian Malinois) sets me apart from other attorneys handling dog attack cases. Call me today to learn more about how state laws impact your claim.
Understanding Virginia’s Dog Bite Laws
While the Code of Virginia §3.2-6540 is the main statutory reference for dog bite incidents, most claims are resolved based on case precedents established through prior court decisions. These court decisions create a complex interpretation of how the law applies in specific situations, which is why you should seek legal representation.
If you were injured during a dog attack, you have the right to recover compensation for all your expenses. A Virginia personal injury lawyer experienced in dog bite cases will help you seek justice.
For a free legal consultation, call 757-648-8579
How to Prove the Dog Owner’s Negligence
If you want to receive compensation for your injuries from the dog owner, you will likely base your claim on the legal concept of negligence. This means showing that the owner didn’t do what a responsible person would do to keep others safe from their dog.
Virginia applies a variation of the “one-bite rule,” which holds an owner liable for injuries their pet caused if they were aware of the dog’s dangerous tendencies. Under this rule, the owner is responsible even if they took precautions to prevent an attack. Since no state law explicitly details this rule, judges determine how liability applies in each case.
Usually, courts rule that a dog must have hurt (bitten or attacked) a victim for the owner to be held liable. However, there is at least one case (Burton v. Walmsley, 9 Va. Cir. 309 (1967)) that establishes a precedent for holding the owner accountable even if their dog hasn’t previously harmed anyone. In this situation, the dog owner could be liable if there are clear warning signs, like the dog snarling at visitors.
Understanding these exceptions is important, as it highlights that responsibility extends to the potential risk indicated by a dog’s behavior. Certain details can shift the perspective on the incident and the outcome of your case. As your lawyer, I will bring every relevant detail to light to strengthen your position.
If you can prove that the pet owner acted carelessly and this led to your injuries, you could have a winning lawsuit. For example, if you were attacked by a dog that escaped through a broken fence, you can argue that the owner was negligent.
As your dog bite attorney, I will investigate the circumstances that led to your injury and determine if the owner’s negligence contributed to the attack. If they were careless, I will paint a clear picture of how their actions caused your injuries.
Negligence per se
This legal concept states that if someone breaks the law, they are responsible for the harm caused. Virginia law considers the violation of an ordinance or statute as negligence per se. Therefore, owners have a responsibility to follow the rules and protect the safety of others.
For example, Butler v. Frieden (208 Va. 352, 1967) established a negligence per se claim based on the violation of a city ordinance. The ordinance in question stated that a dog owner could face a fine if their dog were unleashed on a public street unless accompanied by an attendant or held on a leash.
In this case, a four-year-old girl was injured by an unattended and unleashed dog. The Supreme Court of Virginia clarified that the ordinance aimed to protect the public from dangers posed by dogs running freely, particularly the obvious risk of dog bites.
As a result, the court decided that the violation of the ordinance represented a breach of duty. This breach formed the basis for a negligence claim, allowing the jury to find the defendant liable for the injuries caused by the dog attack.
Virginia Has a Deadline for Filing a Lawsuit After a Dog Bite Incident
Virginia offers injured victims a limited time to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. If you suffered a dog bite, you generally have two years to take legal action, as per the Code of Virginia § 8.01-243.
If you lost a loved one due to a dog attack, the Code of Virginia § 8.01-244 offers the decedent’s personal representatives a two-year window after the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
To make sure that your case is filed within Virginia’s statute of limitations, seek legal help as soon as you can after the dog bite incident. If you contact me immediately after getting hurt, I can access fresh evidence to strengthen your claim. In time, witnesses can forget what happened, and valuable evidence can get damaged or lost.
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The Right Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer to Represent Your Case
I built my own personal injury law firm so I can set a higher standard for legal services. Atkinson Law is all about putting the client experience at the core of legal representation.
If you were bitten or attacked by a dog, I will help you fight for maximum compensation. As your attorney, I will explain in detail how Virginia laws and regulations apply to your situation. Contact me today, and together, we can ensure that you make informed decisions about your case.