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Shapiro & Appleton

Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers: Dog Bite Attacks and Injuries

As Virginia personal injury lawyers we know that the large majority of dog attacks victims are teenagers, or little children/kids. In fact, dog bites are the cause of more emergency room visits than any other children's activity, even more than burn injuries. Serious laceration injuries make victims of the youngest of children, ages ten (10) and under; over seventy-seven percent (77%) of injuries to small kids are those involving their heads and faces. Amazingly, a large number of dog bite attacks happen near home or in the same neighborhood at one’s home. A small child who was bit by a dog owned by a friend or neighbor can cause permanent scarring and serious injuries. Most of our clients do not desire to sue neighbors, relatives or family members. But the public needs to understand that many of these injuries are covered by a dog owner or homeowners insurance policy, or under an umbrella liability policy.  Often the choice is to absorb substantial medical expenses, or to consider a valid claim, one which is covered by the negligent dog owner’s insurance coverage.  Analysis of the relevant leash laws, or whether the dog has a known history of dog bites to others, for example, are some of the research necessary to successfully pursue dog bite claims.

People have a strange attitude about a dog bite injury case, but there happen to be lots of dogs in our society and unfortunately people do get attacked or bit by dogs and some of the injuries can be fairly serious-many cause permanent scars. Virginia (and many states) follow the common law rule known as the "one bite" rule which offers some protection to dog owners who have had no prior warning that a particular dog might bite. However, a new Virginia Code Section 3.1-796.93:1 strengthens the legal framework for putting civil liability on dog owners.

Under the new Virginia statutory provisions, the dog can be declared a dangerous animal not only for biting a human, but also for any previous attack on another dog or cat. If an animal is declared a "dangerous dog" under a finding from a General District Court, the owner is required to carry liability insurance coverage of $100,000.00 or obtain a surety bond.  However, there are a number of local, city or county ordinances that can still apply. Some local ordinances prohibit dogs running at large.  A careful analysis of all state and local laws must be undertaken.

In a dog bite case, it can be important to find out if any neighbors or other persons know something about an animal's dangerous history and behavior.  Another idea is to subpoena records of a veterinarian in the nearby area for background records. Another tip is to check with utility crews, lawn care workers and UPS drivers about a particular animal. It is a sure bet that postal carriers will know a lot about which animals in a particular neighborhood are the bad ones.

Serious injuries can arise from all types of accidents. In cases involving death/fatalities, the families of a person killed can file a wrongful death claim under state laws, whether this occurs in Virginia or any other state.  In order to prove negligence in a dog bite/attack case, it is crucial to have personal injury attorneys/lawyers that have both knowledge of the field and real trial experience. The Virgina/Carolina Law Firm of Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan routinely confer with some of the foremost medical experts in the country on behalf of their clients, and have a long and distinguished history of taking cases to trial with successful results. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, please send us a quick contact form or call us toll free for a free consultation today.

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