When to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit

If you were attacked by a dog, you may have the right to significant financial compensation. Aggressive dogs are extremely dangerous and can cause very serious harm. The wounds they inflict will not only be physical but also psychological and financial. Some dog attacks may result in minor injuries, but others can lead to very serious emotional distress, infections, and scarring. All of these cases deserve the attention and skill of qualified attorneys.

You need to know when to file a dog-bite lawsuit. Dog bite laws in Virginia can help you understand when you should file your case. With the help of an experienced dog bite attorney, you can seek compensation in your case. 

Dog Bite Laws in Virginia: Does the One-Bite Rule Apply?

Unlike many other states that have special strict liability statutes for dog bites, Virginia relies mostly on case law. Virginia law usually holds dog owners responsible through the "one bite" rule. The dog's owner is financially responsible for an attack if the owner:

  • Knew the dog was aggressive
  • Should have known the dog was dangerous
  • Knew the dog might act aggressively

In many cases, this requires proof that the dog has attacked at least once before. For example, a previous bite on someone could help prove that the dog was dangerous and that the owner should be responsible for your injuries in this dog bite injury lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites

Personal injury cases in Virginia must be filed within a certain period of time. This time limit is called a "statute of limitations." Under Virginia Code § 8.01-243, dog bite victims usually have two years to file their action in court. This two-year period begins on the date the dog attack occurred in most cases. 

If this time period elapses before the case is filed, the trial court will very likely dismiss the case. This would mean you are unable to collect compensation even if you would have been successful with a timely filed case. To avoid this potential issue, it is imperative you speak with a qualified dog bite injury lawyer about your case right away.

Dog Bite Statute

Virginia Code § 3.2-6540 is a dog bite statute that may label a dog as a "dangerous dog" through a legal adjudication. This happens if the animal has inflicted injury, bitten, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat, or has done the same to a human being. There are very specific guidelines that courts must follow when labeling a "dangerous dog."

Using this prior designation can be very useful in a dog bite lawsuit. This helps make it easier to get over Virginia's "one bite" rule. This evidence helps prove the owner knew — or should have known — that their dog was dangerous.

When You Should File a Lawsuit as a Bite Victim

After an attack, you want to know whether you can and should file a claim. A dog bite is a traumatizing and physically damaging experience. You have been through a lot and are not sure what to do next. A personal injury case may help you win compensation for all that you have been through. 

You should file a dog bite lawsuit when:

You've Sustained Minor to Severe Bite Injuries

A dog bite and attack is likely to leave significant injuries. Some cases are more severe than others. Even minor injuries deserve potential compensation. A small dog bite may heal but the experience is still traumatizing and emotional. The physical injuries were still painful and required medical care.

Severe injuries can take weeks, months, or years to heal. Some injuries will never fully heal. A serious dog bite injury can cost you a great deal of money, lost time at work, and much more.

Physical injuries that are common in dog bite injury cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Puncture wounds in the skin
  • Eye damage and possible blindness
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Major infections
  • Amputation or loss of limb
  • Wrongful death

You Suffered Emotional Trauma Due to One or More Bite Attacks

Physical injuries are not the only ones you face after a dog bite. The physical injuries and the experience itself can cause severe psychological harm. Experienced attorneys understand this and know how to seek compensation for these types of injuries as well.

Psychological and emotional trauma injuries often include:

  • A new and lasting fear of dogs
  • Post-traumatic stress from the attack
  • Self-consciousness about scarring or disfigurement caused by the attack
  • Suicidal thoughts, depression, and anti-social behavior
  • Panic attacks and severe anxiety
  • Nightmares or flashbacks

A personal injury case may compensate you for these injuries as well as your physical harm. We know how traumatic a dog bite can be and we do everything we can to see that you are properly compensated for it.

How to Receive Financial Compensation for Bite Incidents

After a minor or major dog attack, you need the assistance of qualified legal counsel. The dog bite attorneys at the Commonwealth Law Group understand what you have been through. We recognize that your case is unique and will develop a strategy that achieves the best results for you.

You could be owed substantial compensation from the dog's owner. This could include your medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and much more. Never assume there is nothing you can do. We are here to help. Contact us today or call (804) 999-9999 for a free case consultation.

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.