While we like to think of our pets as loving companions, serious harm can result from a dog bite. Pet owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs, so when someone gets bit and sustains injuries, a Wheeling dog bite lawyer can help the victim file a claim to seek compensation for their losses.
With dog bite cases, it’s not uncommon for the victim to know the owner. This can make pursuing a legal claim uncomfortable, but it’s important to keep your health, wellbeing, and future in mind. Medical bills can pile up quickly, even for minor injuries. When you file a claim with us, we’ll build a case that proves you’re owed monetary recovery for your losses. Once you have the means to cover those losses, you can work on getting your life back in order.
Depending on how, when, and where the attack occurred, building a dog bite claim can be complex. When you work with DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we’ll be with you every step of the way. We’ll start by determining why the dog attacked you. Let’s take a look at some of the signs of a dangerous dog.
Recognizing the Signs of a Potentially Dangerous Dog
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 4.5 million Americans sustain dog bites each year. While anyone could find themselves in a situation with a dangerous dog, young children five to nine are most at risk of sustaining a bite injury.
Often times, dogs bite because they’re scared, defensive, or ill. If they feel threatened or are protecting something valuable to them, like food, toys, or puppies, they may be easily provoked. A dog that is sick or injured might want to be left alone and will bite if bothered.
The warning signs that a dog is about to bite are often subtle, but being able to recognize them can help avoid injury. Because dogs cannot verbally express discomfort, stress, or fear, they emote with their bodies. Signs to be on the lookout for include:
- Yawning, licking lips, avoiding eye contact
- Growling, snapping, or showing teeth
- Rigid body
- Fur standing up
- Seeing the whites of the eye
If you find yourself in a situation with a dog displaying any of the behaviors above, it’s best to remove yourself as quickly and calmly as you can.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Unfortunately, there’s not always a way to remove yourself from a dangerous situation involving a biting dog. When that’s the case, it’s important to understand what steps to take to protect yourself and your future.
Immediately following a dog bite, wash the wound with warm, soapy water. Even if the wound isn’t large, it’s important to seek medical attention if the dog appeared sick, you’re uncertain as to whether it was vaccinated against rabies, or if it’s been more than five years since your last tetanus shot.
If the wound is serious and you’re experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, or bone exposure, head to the emergency room immediately. Only medical professionals will be able to give you the best chances of making a full recovery.
Once you’ve sought medical treatment, you should report the bite to your local animal control or health department. If possible, contact the owner and get the rabies vaccine license number, name of the veterinarian that administered the vaccine, and the owner’s contact information.
Once you’ve been treated and reported the incident, get in touch with a dog bite attorney. The sooner you reach out after the incident, the better your chances are of receiving full and fair compensation.
West Virginia’s One Bite Rule
Part of filing a successful claim involves having a comprehensive understanding of the laws that apply. In West Virginia, section 19-20-13 of the state’s Code imposes strict liability on the owner of a dog that causes injury after the owner has allowed it to run at large. At large means the dog is unleashed and off the owner’s property.
Because of the strict liability factor, it’s not necessary to prove negligence in order to find the dog’s owner responsible for what happened. The fact that the owner let the dog run at large is enough to hold them responsible for the damage the animal caused.
If a dog injured someone because someone other than the owner allowed it to run at large, the strict liability statute does not apply. Instead, the claim must be filed based on negligence or the state’s one-bite rule. Under that rule, the injured person has to prove that the dog caused their injuries and the owner knew, or had reason to know, that the dog was dangerous.
Dog Ordinances in Wheeling
In addition to the state laws, dog owners in Wheeling must comply with the city’s ordinances. The laws specially address dog owners of breeds the city has deemed dangerous, including Pit Bull Terriers, Canary Breed, and Bulldogs. A dog of any breed, however, can be labeled dangerous if the City Manager of Wheeling deems it so.
Owners with dangerous breeds must abide by specific restrictions and regulations relating to enclosures, muzzles, and liability insurance. For example, if a dog is in one or more incidents involving aggressive behavior, the owner must leash and muzzle the animal or have a six-foot privacy fence, post a “Beware of Dog” sign, register the animal with the city of Wheeling, and prove they’ve secured at least $100,000 liability insurance.
If your dog bite happened in Wheeling, our lawyers will take the local ordinances into consideration when building your claim.
Seek Legal Help in Wheeling
As you can see, dog bite laws in West Virginia can be complicated. Understanding the laws that apply to your situation is crucial in order to pursue a successful claim. A Wheeling dog bite lawyer will have the experience, knowledge, and resources needed to build a case that proves you were wronged. To secure your future and recover the compensation you need to handle your losses, schedule a free consultation with our firm today.