Norfolk, Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer

Norfolk dog bite lawyer Richard SerpeA dog bite can be a devastating experience, especially when the victim is a small innocent child. Victims of dog attacks face serious physical injuries, permanent scarring, and emotional trauma.

Based in Norfolk, Virginia, the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C. has successfully settled dog bite injury claims across Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and many other parts of the Commonwealth. We help children, delivery drivers, mail carriers, joggers, neighbors, families suffering from a wrongful death and many others. The Serpe Firm is highly experienced in Virginia dog bite and attack cases and will work hard to get you a fair and just settlement.


  • 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 Virginia?

If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you may have a Virginia personal injury case. Consider consulting with a attorney experienced with dog bite and attack cases to determine your legal options. We offer risk-free consultations 877-544-5323.


Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to compensation:

  • Seek 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 authorities. When an animal attacks a person, that animal has become a potential threat to the health and safety of the public and must 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, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, plastic surgery, permanent injuries and disabilities, and losses from a wrongful death.


Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering: This is the right to compensation for physical pain and suffering and mental anguish you have suffered and could possibly endure in the future.
  • Loss of Earnings: You are entitled to recover for the loss of earnings which you suffered from your injuries.
  • Future Loss of Earnings: If your injuries have prevented you from your ability to earn income in the future, you might recover damages for the value of the reduction in earning capacity with reasonable probability which will occur in the future.
  • Disfigurement: If the injury causes scarring or other unsightly marks, the victim is entitled to recovery for the disfigurement. Because these injuries are often in very visible places, victims are often very self-conscious of their appearance.
  • Medical Expenses: Damages include any sort of medical expenses that a victim has had to pay for at a hospital, clinic, or to a pharmacy.
  • Wrongful Death of a Loved One:  Fatal dog attacks don’t happen very often, but when they do occur, they’re always incredibly tragic. No one ever expects to lose a loved one in such a violent way. The Virginia wrongful death statute allows certain family members of the victim to file a claim on the behalf of the deceased.


  • $100,000.00 – Mail carrier injured knee
  • $100,000.00 – FedEx driver arm injuries
  • $100,000.00 – Child attacked by neighbor’s dog
  • $150,000.00 – Client sustained facial wounds


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.


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 minimum, consider contacting an attorney to discuss your options, as early as possible, to protect your right to compensation.

City of Norfolk Animal Laws

Norfolk Animal Control:
2500 N. Military Highway, Norfolk, VA 23502

The City of Norfolk provides information on what is expected of dog owners, as well as how dangerous animals are handled:

  • Running at large: Animals are prohibited from running “at large” within the city. At large is defined as roaming, running, flying, or self-hunting off the property of it’s owner or custodian and not under their immediate leashed or lead control.
  • Animal Control Officer rights: To attempt to cut back on the number of vicious animals within the city limits, the following regulation is in effect: “Any animal control officer or any deputy animal control officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within the city is a dangerous or vicious animal as defined in this chapter shall apply to a magistrate of the city for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian to appear before the general district court at a specified time.”
    • Dangerous animals: It is unlawful for anyone to harbor or maintain a dangerous animal with the city, unless they have registered the animal with Animal Control as a dangerous dog.
    • Vicious animals: It is unlawful for anyone to keep, harbor, or maintain an animal deemed vicious within the city.  A vicious dog is usually defined as a dog that has killed or seriously injured a person or companion animal.


    Richard Serpe, Top Attorney
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