I Was Bit by a Dog at the Beach: What Do I Need To Do?

During the summer in Virginia Beach, tourists and residents taking their dogs for a stroll along the boardwalk or the water’s edge is a common sight. Although rare, dog bites do happen. These attacks are often serious and, besides the initial bite injury, can lead to disfigurement, permanent scarring, and severe infections that will impact the victim well into the future. Sadly, young children are especially vulnerable to the dangers of dog bites with the worst cases ending in serious injuries or death. 

What are my rights after being bitten by a dog in Virginia Beach?

If you were the victim of a Virginia Beach dog attack, speak to a Virginia personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we understand how scary and upsetting a dog bite can be. Contact our experienced lawyers to schedule a free review of your claim and find out what course of action we recommend for your situation. 

Are There Specific Times Dogs Are Allowed on the Beach?

Dogs are welcome to join their human counterparts in enjoying the Virginia Beach oceanfront all year long. There are, however, a few specialized rules and regulations outlined in Virginia Beach City Code 6-5 that owners will need to keep in mind:

  • All dogs are allowed on the boardwalk and public beaches from Labor Day to Memorial Day (fall, winter, and spring). 
  • During the summer months, dogs are not allowed on the main oceanfront beach between 1st Street and 42nd Street and may only be on the boardwalk between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • Dogs on the boardwalk must be on a leash. Dogs on the beach may be off-leash as long as they are not bothering other dogs or people and are under their human’s control. 
  • The dog’s custodian or owner must pick up and contain all waste in an airtight wrapper or container and dispose of it properly in a waste bin.

What Steps Should I Take if I Am Bitten by A Dog?

If you are bitten by a dog in Virginia Beach, the first thing you should do is remove yourself from the situation and get to a secure place, such as a nearby shop or even your car. Next, seek immediate medical attention. Even comparatively minor dog bites should be attended to by a healthcare professional, especially if the skin was broken. 

Provided that you are not in imminent danger, you could also try to:

  • Determine if the dog was a stray. If not, try to locate or identify the owner.
  • Get contact details from any bystanders who witnessed the attack.
  • Contact Virginia Beach Animal Control at (757) 385-4444 and/or call 911, especially if the owner is refusing to cooperate.
  • Contact an experienced dog bite attorney and schedule a free consultation

Never be dismissive of a dog bite, even if it appears to be minor. If the skin is broken, you should have a healthcare professional look at it.      

Common Injuries Caused by Dog Bites

Dog bites, especially those committed by large dogs, can result in severe personal injuries. Injuries that often arise from serious dog bites often include: 

  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Shock and blood loss
  • Disfigurement and permanent scarring
  • Nerve damage

There could also be some psychological consequences prompted by the trauma of an animal attack, such as anxiety, fear of dogs, nightmares, and even a fear of going outside. 

What is Virginia’s One Bite Rule?

In Virginia, all pet owners have a duty to take any and all reasonable precautions to prevent their pets from hurting someone. If they violate this duty of care and you are injured as a result, you are entitled to hold the owner liable for their negligence.

The One Bite Rule is a law allowing the victim of a dog bite to claim financial compensation for damages if the dog’s owner was aware, or reasonably should have been aware, that the dog was unsafe. 

The rule states that if a dog has previously bitten another person in a documented incident, then the owner should have realized that the dog is a potential threat to the safety of others. The One Bite Rule also applies if the dog has attacked, bitten, or otherwise caused injury to another animal.

Are There Any Exceptions to the One Bite Rule?

Yes, Virginia law does not consider an animal to be dangerous if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • It has attacked another animal, and a vet determines that the animal was not seriously injured as a result
  • It attacked another animal owned by the same person
  • It attacked while on its owner’s property
  • If an animal control officer or law enforcement officer determines that the resulting injury was minor, such as a scratch, nip, or mild abrasion. 

Exceptions to the One Bite Rule also apply if:

  • The victim was at least partly to blame
  • The victim was trespassing when the attack occurred
  • The victim provoked the dog

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

With so many provisions and exceptions in the law, it is crucial that you contact an experienced Virginia Beach dog bite attorney in the event of an unprovoked dog attack. Call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free consultation today. 

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