In the wake of a Virginia dog attack, it’s often hard to know where to start. After seeking medical attention, it may be in your best interest to discuss your legal options with an attorney. While seeking legal action may not be your first inclination, delaying the process may put your right to compensation at risk.
With zero obligation to work with an attorney beyond the free consultation, there’s no reason not to explore all possibilities. The insurance company will work hard to minimize or deny claims whenever possible. If you’re not willing to go head to head with them yourself, you’ll want a lawyer representing your best interests.
Do you have a Virginia dog bite injury case?
✓ Were you or a loved one attacked by someone else’s dog?
✓ Did the attack cause serious physical injury?
✓ Did you seek medical attention for your injuries?
✓ Was the attack a result of dog owner (or caretaker) negligence?
✓ Did the attack occur in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you may have a Virginia personal injury case. Consider consulting with a Virginia personal injury lawyer experienced with dog bite/attack cases to determine your options. Aren’t sure how to answer these questions? That’s fine, too. We’re still happy to set up a free consultation. Every dog bite case is different, so it’s important you speak with an attorney with the experience necessary to guide your next steps.
Attorney Richard Serpe
Richard Serpe is a highly skilled Virginia personal injury attorney with a reputation for meticulous trial preparation and presentation. He has a tremendous track record of success in obtaining substantial jury verdicts and settlements for his clients. As a personal injury attorney, he advocates for those who have been injured due to the negligence of another person, dangerous product, or company. A substantial portion of his 34-year legal career has been devoted to the representation of injured children.
Awards & Recognition
- “Super Lawyer” – top 5% of lawyers in Virginia (2006 – Present)
- Best Lawyers (2005 – Present)
- Norfolk Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers® (2020)
- AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell law directory, which is the highest given
- Rated 10/10 – “Superb” by attorney rating service Avvo.com
What should I do if I was attacked by someone else’s dog in Virginia?
Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to compensation:
- Get medical attention. First and foremost, if you’ve been injured, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention from a professional to protect your health. If you plan to make a personal injury claim, your medical records will document the serious nature of your injuries. If you do not seek medical treatment for your injuries, the defendant and his/her insurance company may try to claim 1) that your injuries were not serious, or 2) that you were not injured in the attack.
- Report the incident to the police, ﬁre, or animal control department. When an animal attacks a person, that animal has become a potential threat to the health and safety of the public and should be reported to authorities. Further, animal control will need to conduct an investigation into the incident as well as quarantine the animal for rabies. The animal control investigative findings will become crucial evidence in your personal injury case.
- Consider contacting a lawyer. While hiring a lawyer is not required, having an experienced professional to advocate for your needs could mean a larger settlement for you and your family. A successful settlement can cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, plastic surgery, permanent injuries and disabilities, a wrongful death, as well as the loss of earning capacity.
Virginia Dog Bite Laws
- Virginia’s “One Bite” Rule: If a dog owner knows that their pet has bitten at least one time in the past, they can be held liable for the damages caused in subsequent attacks. In other words, if Fido got into trouble for biting a neighbor last year, his owner must take necessary precautions to prevent additional attacks from occurring. Should Fido bite again, his owner will likely be held responsible for the victim’s financial losses. This is because the owner knew of the dog’s violent tendencies but did not take action to prevent additional attacks.
- Negligence Per Se: Even if the dog does not have a violent past, negligent owners can still be held liable if a law was broken at the time of the attack. Victims may sue for compensation so long as they have evidence that the owner failed to control their pet and follow the law. For instance, if you’re at the park and are attacked by a dog whose owner has let it roam off the leash, you may have a viable claim. The decision to allow the dog off the leash in a place with strict leash requirements demonstrates the owner’s negligence.
- Statue of Limitations (Legal Deadlines): In Virginia, there are strict deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Typically, Virginia provides a two-year deadline also known as the statute of limitations. However, sometimes special circumstances can alter that deadline. While two years seems like a long time, it takes time for you to heal and it takes time to build a strong case. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. At the least, consider contacting someone to discuss your options as early as possible to protect your right to compensation.