While we normally think of our dogs as loyal companions always ready for tummy rubs and treats, there are unfortunate instances where they can become aggressive. While getting bit by a dog is always a dangerous and scary event, children and the elderly are at risk for even more injuries. In the event you or someone you love is bitten by a dog, it’s important to know the laws surrounding the issue and your rights.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 4.5 million dog bites happen in the United States each year. Nearly one million of those bites end up requiring medical attention for severe lacerations bruising, and concerns of rabies, capnocytophaga bacteria, Pasteurella, MRSA, and tetanus. Individuals often need antibiotics, stitches, rabies shots, or even plastic surgery. Of those 4.5 million bites, approximately 2,500 occur in West Virginia.
Filing a Dog Bite Claim in West Virginia
Under West Virginia Code 19-20-13, any owner who allows their dog to run outside their property and off a leash is liable for any injuries the dog causes.
Because of this law, you must be able to prove one of the following scenarios occurred when you were bitten to be eligible for compensation:
- You were bitten by a dog because of the owner’s negligence.
- The dog was “at large,” meaning it was roaming around a neighborhood or area off-leash.
- The dog has already been reported for biting someone else.
West Virginia also follows the one bite rule. This means that if you are on someone’s property, trespassing or otherwise, and their dog bites you, was properly contained on their property, and has never bitten anyone else, you’ll have a difficult time proving your case unless you can infallibly prove the owner’s negligence.
Once you are bitten, you have two years to file your claim if you are looking to receive compensation for your injuries. If you try to file after this time period has passed, your case will be thrown out.
Dog bite claims, especially if you know the dog’s owner, can be delicate situations. In some cases, it’s best to seek a legal representative to help you prove your case and claim compensation for your medical expenses and suffering. Our West Virginia dog bite lawyers are prepared to represent you and protect your rights under the dog bite laws in West Virginia. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.