Thousands of people in the United States suffer animal attack injuries every year. Most of these incidents involve dogs, and the majority of victims are children. Dog owners are liable for the actions of their pets, which means you can take legal action after a serious dog bite, and a dog bite lawyer from our firm can help you do so. Contact Simeone & Miller, LLP today to learn more about what we can do for you.
If you or your child was attacked by someone else’s dog, we encourage you to seek compensation with the help of a Washington, D.C. injury lawyer from Simeone & Miller, LLP. We have decades of experience representing injury victims in the DMV area, and we are prepared to put that experience to work for you.
An owner is responsible for an attack by his or her dog if the dog has demonstrated “vicious propensities” in the past, or if the owner has failed to exercise control over the dog. It is a myth that a dog gets “one free bite.” The so-called “one bite rule” arises from the mistaken belief that, in order to demonstrate that an owner had knowledge of his dog’s vicious propensities, you must demonstrate that the dog had previously bitten someone else. This isn’t the case.
“Vicious propensities” can be demonstrated through past behaviors like chasing people, bearing teeth, or attacking people without biting. In addition, even if a dog has never exhibited “vicious propensities,” if it bares its teeth or chases after someone, the owner cannot stand idly by when a tug on a leash or call to the dog could prevent the attack. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that people are safe around their pets.
Private investigators can be extremely useful in locating witnesses, obtaining photographs of the scene of the attack, and locating other people who have encountered the dog at issue. Oftentimes, these investigations lead to the discovery of information that shows that the owner or handler had knowledge of a dog’s propensity to hurt others, or that an owner or handler did not properly supervise or control a dog given the circumstances.
Generally, the claims of a child are brought by a legal guardian of the child – which is usually the mother, father, grandparent, or aunt or uncle. In these cases, the guardian usually signs a retainer on their own behalf as well because they are likely responsible for the medical bills of the child. Because a child is not of legal age to contract with medical providers for the provision of services, the parent or next of kin is generally liable for these bills.
Washington, D.C. is a contributory negligence state. Contributory negligence refers to any action, or inaction, from the victim that could have caused or contributed to his or her injuries.
It is common for defendants to argue that the victims contributed to the incident in some way, such as teasing or antagonizing the dog. These arguments encompass a broad range of allegations to include the fact that a victim provoked the dog, did not “read” the dog’s actions or demeanor properly, or that a victim assumed the risk of injury by engaging in certain actions.
If the defense is able to show that you somehow contributed to your injury, you could be barred from receiving any compensation – even if the dog’s owner was responsible too.
To counter these arguments, our dog bite lawyers in D.C. work extensively with our clients to understand what happened during the incident and what they were thinking. We also work with expert witnesses who specialize in dog behavior and handling to not only establish the fact that our client’s actions did not contribute to the attack, but also that it was the actions of the dog’s owner or handler that solely caused our client to suffer serious injuries.
It is also important to fully document the injuries resulting from a dog attack. Oftentimes, a plastic surgeon is involved and it is necessary to wait several months before making a determination of the extent of a physical injury. Photographs of the injuries, both initially and as they heal over time, are extremely helpful to demonstrate the victim’s injuries and pain. We have found that this comprehensive approach gets us the best results in dog bite cases.
We have extensive experience representing victims of dog bites and other animal attacks throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. While many people love dogs, it is an unfortunate reality that, sometimes, they can hurt people. When this happens, you can count on a dog bite lawyer from our firm to conduct a thorough investigation to gather all of the facts and information we need to prove that the dog’s owner or handler was negligent. Contact us today.