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West Virginia Dog Bite Attorney

If you have been bitten by a dog, you need to take these injuries seriously; contact the West Virginia dog bite lawyers at the Manchin Injury Group to learn more.

Dogs can be loving pets that bring great joy to people’s lives. However, some dogs just aren’t nice. Dog bites are painful and can cause serious injuries to people. Dog bites can cause deep muscle and serious tissue injuries, and can also result in infections that cause severe health problems.

Call the Manchin Injury Law Group at (304) 367-1862 for a free consultation.

Content:

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite in West Virginia?

Liability for a dog bite refers to someone’s legal and financial responsibility for the incident and any losses it caused. Liability for a dog attack will vary depending on the laws in the state where the incident occurred. Most states use either a strict liability law or a one-bite rule to determine liability for an attack. West Virginia is unique in that it uses a bit of both.

West Virginia’s dog bite law holds pet owners strictly liable for attacks if the animal was running at large. If the dog was not running at large, however, state courts generally adhere to a one-bite or negligence rule. Different interpretations of running at large have presided over dog bite injury cases in West Virginia. Some say it means the pet was not fenced within the owner’s property at the time, while others say it means the animal wasn’t restrained, even if it was on someone else’s property.

If the dog that bit you was running at large at the time of the attack, the pet owner will most likely be strictly liable for your injuries. This means you will not need to prove the owner’s negligence to receive compensation for your medical bills and other losses. If, however, the dog was leashed or fenced within the owner’s property, you would need to establish liability based on negligence instead.

Negligence means a pet owner acted in a way that someone else reasonably would not have in the circumstances. If the pet owner knew his or her dog was vicious, for example, yet did not prevent the dog from attacking a second victim, the owner would be guilty of negligence. For the most part, a pet owner in West Virginia will be liable for damages related to a preventable attack if the victim can prove the owner’s negligence.

Dog Bite Statistics

In West Virginia, dozens of people suffer dog bites and attacks every year. Dogs running loose or negligent pet owners not paying attention can lead to violent animal encounters. If you or someone close to you has become a recent victim, you are not alone.

  • In 2016, 31 people lost their lives in fatal dog attacks.
  • Pit bulls and Rottweilers accounted for 77% of fatal bites.
  • From 2005 to 2016, pit bulls took 254 lives in the U.S.
  • In 2016, 58% of dog bite victims were adults, while 42% were children under the age of 13.
  • Nearly one in five dog bites require emergency medical attention.

At the Manchin Injury Law Group, we do not see or treat our clients like statistics. We keep up with dog bite facts, because we know it is important for our community. Spreading awareness of the dangers of dog bites can help prevent incidents from occurring.

Gathering Evidence in a Dog Bite Case

If the dog was a pet, ask for all of the contact information from the owner. Be sure to write down the type of breed, color and name of the dog. It is important that you do not try to negotiate with the dog’s owner for a settlement, especially prior to going to the doctor. Be sure that you treat the dog bite injury with your doctor and get information from the dog’s owner on the dog’s last rabies shot.

If it was a stray dog, be sure to write down the color, size, markings, and breed of the dog. Additionally, call the police to report the incident. If there were any witnesses to the dog bite, be sure to get the witness’ contact information.

The West Virginia personal injury attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group in Fairmont can help you in cases involving animal attacks and dog bites. We know how insurance companies will try to negotiate with you, minimizing your medical damages and pain and suffering.

What to Do After a Dog or Animal Attack in West Virginia

The steps you take after suffering a dog bite injury in West Virginia are important for your health, wellness, and injury claim. Act quickly to ensure you do not miss any important deadlines or filing requirements. If you are not sure what to do after an attack, or want help during each step of the process, contact our attorneys and request counsel.

  1. Check for injuries. Remain at the scene of the attack and check yourself and others for any injuries.
  2. Call 911. If someone has injuries or has died in the dog attack, call 911 to report the incident.
  3. Request an ambulance. Severe dog bites require immediate medical care. If you cannot drive to the hospital, request an ambulance through 911.
  4. Get the pet owner’s information. Write down the name and phone number of the pet owner, as well as a description of the pet.
  5. Take photographs. If you can, take pictures of the pet, the scene of the attack, your injuries, and any other details that may serve as evidence.
  6. Follow the doctor’s orders. You may need surgeries, rabies shots, and treatments to prevent infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly during recovery.
  7. Report the dog. If you believe the pet owner was breaking a state or local law, report him or her and the pet to your county’s Animal Control Center.
  8. Learn about dog bite laws. West Virginia is a strict-liability dog-bite state. This means if the dog bit you while running at large, the owner will be liable.
  9. Hire a dog bite lawyer. A West Virginia dog bite attorney can review your case and let you know if you have grounds for a lawsuit against the pet owner or another party.
  10. Seek financial recovery. With a lawyer’s help, you can seek damage reimbursement from the negligent pet or property owner.

Do what you can to protect your rights and heal from your dog bite injuries. If you need a West Virginia dog bite lawyer to visit you at home or in the hospital, call our firm to request a free consultation at any point. We can walk you through the recovery process.

Dog Bite FAQs

It is natural to have questions after a dog attack and bite injury. You and your family may not understand the state’s dog bite laws, or know how long you have to file a claim against a pet owner.

What damages can I recover?

Damages refer to compensation you could receive from a defendant in a personal injury claim for your injuries and losses. The damages recoverable in your case will depend on the losses you suffered. You may be eligible for medical bill, lost wage, property damage, and pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering can refer to psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional distress, and scarring or disfigurement. The dog owner may also owe you punitive damages for his or her recklessness or gross negligence.

How do I prevent a dog attack?

Let a dog see and sniff you before petting. Do not approach unfamiliar dogs, panic, or make loud noises. Do not allow unsupervised play between children and a dog.

How long do I have to file a claim?

West Virginia gives personal injury accident victims two years from the date of injury to file claims. If you wait longer than two years to file, the courts may refuse to hear your case. It is important to act as quickly as possible to ensure the preservation of important evidence as well as to avoid missing your deadline.

Contact the Manchin Injury Law Group if you have additional questions. First consultations are always free and confidential.

West Virginia Dog Owner Laws

All dog owners in West Virginia must adhere to the state’s related laws and statutes. In West Virginia, municipalities have jurisdiction over pet owners within their city or county lines. If your city has an ordinance that bans dogs from running at large in public places, for example, local pet owners must obey this rule and keep their pets restrained. Pet owners are also subject to statewide dog owner laws.

  • Any owner harboring a dog that has bitten someone must confine and quarantine the animal for at least 10 days for rabies observation.
  • The owner of a known dangerous dog is responsible for acquiring a special license to keep the dog by a county assessor. The owner must keep the dog restrained or enclosed on his or her property at all times.
  • No dog owner may mistreat, abandon or withhold sustenance from a dog – including using a dog for dogfighting.

If a dog owner breaks any state or local law and this contributes to a dog bite injury, the owner could be liable for damages. A broken statute could be proof of the pet owner’s negligence in preventing an attack. For more information about how West Virginia’s dog ownership laws work in your claim, consult with an attorney.

Contact a West Virginia Dog Bite Attorney For A Free Consultation

An experienced West Virginia dog bite attorney can help. Talking to a West Virginia premises liability attorney about a dog bite will allow you to understand what options you have to pay your medical bills and make other claims for damages like pain and suffering. In some cases, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance will pay a settlement, often with very little impact on the owner.

Contact us today by calling (304) 367-1862 to speak with one of our West Virginia dog bite lawyers.