In Virginia Beach, danger awaits where you least expect it. You stop to admire the oceanfront and, the next thing you know, a dog is sinking its teeth into you. What can you do? Your first thought should be to seek medical attention. Your second thought should be to contact a Virginia Beach dog bite lawyer.
Unless you did something to provoke the attack, the dog owner or keeper is responsible for your injuries. They should compensate any losses and mishaps their animal’s bite caused. Of course, obtaining the compensation will not be easy. If it were, you would not need a dog bite attorney.
The most challenging part of getting compensation for dog bite injuries is proving your innocence. You were the one bitten, so you should not be in this position. However, Virginia law punishes contributory negligence. If you did anything to cause those injuries, you cannot recover any losses. It should be obvious that the dog owner will invoke contributory negligence to get off the hook.
Assuming you were the victim and no one can prove otherwise, you still need to know the law. Virginia Beach dog attack lawyers know it well, and they do not hesitate to explain them to their clients. At Commonwealth Accident Injury Law (CAIL), we believe in keeping our clients informed. We explain the law to them, present their options, and help them make the best decisions for their case.
Virginia One-Bite Rule Through the Eyes of a Dog Bite Lawyer
Unlike other states, Virginia lacks specific laws to regulate dog bite attacks. Any dog bite and related injury cases will follow the rules of the preceding cases the courts handled. These precedents have given life to the “one bite” rule. According to this law, a dog owner is only responsible for an attack if their dog bit before. The claimant needs to show the owner should have been aware of their pet’s aggressive tendencies.
Therefore, if a dog bit you or attacked you, your compensation will depend on the dog’s history. You will have to prove the animal attacked another person in the past. This may be difficult without the help of a Virginia Beach dog bite lawyer. At CAIL, the first thing we do when taking on a case is to check the dog’s history.
Even if you cannot find evidence of aggressive tendencies, you should not give up. Some dog attack lawyers manage to convince the court that the owner should have been aware of the danger. They use breed tendencies and case precedents.
They will also try to prove that the owner could have avoided the attack but acted negligently. Common examples of this include:
- Letting the dog roam freely on the streets
- Taking them out on the streets without a leash and mouthpiece
- Failing to warn about the presence of the dog and the potential danger it represents
The idea is to prove that the dog owner had a duty of care and they breached it. For example, local ordinances require dog owners to keep them on a leash while walking them in the park. If they let the animal run freely and it bites you, their action may qualify as negligence per se.
If you succeed in proving it, holding the owner liable for any injuries their animal caused should be easy. The sad part is that you have to do everything in civil court. This means putting up with numerous procedures and formalities. If the dog owner works with an experienced Virginia Beach dog bite lawyer, your fight will be tough.
The Challenges of a Civil Lawsuit and the Need to Work with the Best Virginia Beach Dog Attack Lawyers
You should expect the dog owner to hire legal defense and fight you with everything they have. Virginia Code Section 3.2-6540 foresees criminal penalties for dangerous dog owners. Dangerous dogs are those who cause the death or injury of a person. If a dog registered as dangerous attacks a person, the owner risks a conviction for a:
- Class 2 misdemeanor in case the dog attacked and injured or killed someone’s cat or dog
- Class 1 misdemeanor in case the dog bit or otherwise attacked someone, injuring them
- Class 6 felony in case the dog keeper showed disregard for human life and caused the attack
Other criminal penalties may apply to owners who fail to follow Virginia dangerous dog rules. Even if the owner of the dog is facing criminal penalties, you can still sue them in civil court. The criminal lawsuit is the concern of the local or state prosecutor. For your civil lawsuit, you can hire a Virginia Beach dog bite lawyer.
The criminal lawsuit by itself does not have a direct impact on your case. However, if the jury convicts the dog owner, the verdict can help you prove your case. It shows the dog owner could have done something to prevent your injuries and they did not, hence the attack.
No matter whether the dog owner faces a criminal lawsuit or not, you need solid evidence to sue them. Obtaining it will not be easy, especially if your injuries were serious and your recovery takes time. Remember that there is a time limit for filing dog bite lawsuits.
Virginia’s statute of limitations only allows two years for this purpose. It may seem like a lot, but you will need time to gather the necessary evidence. The formalities you need to follow are complex and lengthy as well. Moreover, the sooner you file the lawsuit, the sooner you will get paid.
Hire a Virginia Beach Dog Bite Attorney Now!
If you are planning to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that attacked you, we can help. Our team includes one of the most experienced dog attack lawyers in Virginia Beach. You can use our experience, knowledge, skills, resources, and dedication. Call 1-800-HURT-123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation! Our dog bite lawyer will answer all your questions and help secure the favorable verdict you are after.