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Dog Owner's Legal Defenses

In Washington State, when a dog bites any person while such person is in a public place or lawfully in or on private property of the dog's owner, the dog's owner shall be held liable for any damages sustained by the person bitten, regardless of the dog's former viciousness and regardless if the owner had knowledge of such viciousness.

It is important to note that there are exceptions, and a dog owner does have legal defenses in certain situations.

Under RCW 16.08.060, if the dog's owner can prove that the injured person provoked the dog, then provocation shall be considered a complete defense to an action for damages.

Under RCW 16.08.090(3), dogs will not be declared as a dangerous threat when the injury was sustained to a person who at the time of the incident, was committing wilful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the dog.

The same goes for anyone who was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or anyone who has tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog in the past, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

In a dog bite claim, a dog owner's defenses include:

  • The injured person was trespassing.
  • The injured person was attempting to commit or committing a crime on the owner's property.
  • The injured person was tormenting or provoking the dog.
  • The injured person was abusing or assaulting the dog.
  • The injured person had abused, tormented, or assaulted the dog in the past.

Were you in public or lawfully on private property?

As Seattle personal injury attorneys, our first objective will be to determine if you were in a public place or lawfully on private property. If you were in public and did nothing to provoke or torment the dog, then you should be entitled to damages.

If you were lawfully on private property and were not trespassing, committing a crime, tormenting or abusing the animal, and you didn't have a history of abusing the animal in question, then the dog's owner should be liable for your damages under Washington's dog bite laws.

Contact Law Office of J.D. Smith, PLLC today to learn more about our personal injury services and how we can help you with your dog bite case. Call us today at (866) 798-4135 to learn more about our contingency fees!

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