A lot of times, when you hear someone say they were bitten by a dog, you kind of shrug it off as if it’s not a big deal. You don’t think of it as a legal issue. Dog bites are not uncommon and the majority of dog bites are more often little nips that don’t really cause any damage. However, some dog bites can cause serious bodily harm, permanent disfigurement and even death.
Most people don’t realize how serious a dog bite can be until they or a loved one is bitten and sustains serious injuries. In West Virginia, dog owners are strictly liable for damages caused by their dogs. If a dog is running unattended at the time of injury, the owner’s negligence need not be proven to hold the owner liable. If the dog is not running wild at the time of the injury, the owner still may be liable if you can prove the owner knew of the dog’s vicious propensity or that the owners negligence somehow caused the injury. This is true even on the owner’s property. A dog owner has a duty of care to secure a dog and prevent it from injuring people who lawfully enter the owner’s property.
It is good to know your rights under the law in the event of a serious dog bite, but the fact is that serious dog bite scenarios are usually more complicated than just figuring out who is liable. The nature of most serious dog bites adds a unique element to the legal issues surrounding dog bites. Over 77% of dog bite injuries are inflicted by the family dog or by a dog that the victim is familiar with. To make it worse, the most common victims of dog bites in the United States are children and the majority of dog bite injuries are to the face and neck.
What do you do if your family dog or your friend’s dog bites your child, causing serious injuries to the face that require extensive medical attention? All of the sudden, your legal issues are intertwined with personal sentiments. You don’t want to put the family dog to sleep and you don’t want to sue your friends or have their dog put to sleep, but you also don’t want to pay the hospital bills that resulted from the dog bite.
With over 4 million dog bites reported every year in the United States, the law understands the seriousness of the problem. Fortunately, most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites. So if the family dog causes injuries to someone, whether it’s a family member or a guest, the insurance should cover the damages. Similarly if someone else’s dog causes an injury to you, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance should cover the damages.
Unfortunately, not everyone has homeowner’s insurance and an infinite number of serious dog bite scenarios could occur. If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog in West Virginia and sustained physical injuries and/or medical bills, you should contact an attorney. An experienced attorney will help you get the compensation you deserve while at the same time helping you deal with the sensitive issues that often surround serious dog bite cases.