Who is liable when you are bitten by a dog?
In general, the dog owner is liable for any injuries that their dog, or other animal for that matter, causes. However, the ease at which the injured can gain access to compensation may be a whole other matter. With tenants, landowners, homeowner and the actual dog owners in the mix, determining who has liability may be difficult. Gathering information is important for these claims, the dog bite victim should be prepared to prove their claim to any involved insurance company.
Tracking down the owner of the dog should be top priority (after you have taken care of the injury of course). Your local law enforcement or animal control will begin this process and hopefully identify who the owner is. If not, it might be on the victim to investigate further to identify who owned the dog and ultimately who is responsible.
West Virginia Dog Bite Law
Owner negligence can be the key to many dog bite cases. Under West Virginia law, a dog who bites or attacks a human must be reported. If the dog involved does not have a prior history of bites and is not known to be vicious, it may be difficult to prove the owner is liable. However, if the dog has history and has shown certain tendencies, then liability is clearer.
Other areas of negligence on the part of the owner could include the type of dog breed that the animal is and if the dog was restrained.
Another hurdle that you may have in receiving compensation for a dog bite is the financial condition of the owner. In most cases, the homeowners insurance of the owner would have coverage for any type of damage the dog may cause; however in some instances, especially in the case of rentals, the dog owner may not have homeowners or rental insurance. In those instances, holding the owner financially liable may be difficult. It is important to have help to identify all potential sources of compensation that is available.
Do you have a dog bite case?
You might also consider the actual damages caused by the animal when determining if you should pursue a claim. If the skin was not broken and there was no real damage, the likelihood of receiving compensation is very slim. However, if the skin was broken and there was either a broken bone or potential scaring, there is a greater likelihood that you would receive compensation. Either way, it is important to understand you options and you may need to speak with an attorney.
Dog Bite Questions?
If you have additional questions or need further advice on your dog bite claim, do not hesitate to contact our office. We have the tools and resources you need to make sure that you or your loved one receives the compensation needed to take care of your medical bills and to put you back on track.