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If youâ€™ve been bitten by a dog in Manassas, Fairfax, Arlington, Reston, or Virginia Beach, you may â€“ naturally -- be very interested in Virginiaâ€™s dog attack laws.
Continue reading if you or somebody you love has been attacked by a dog and you want to learn more about dog bite claims and injury liability.
Virginiaâ€™s â€śOne-Biteâ€ť Law
Virginia is just one of only 19 states that follow the so-called â€śone-biteâ€ť rule, which gives dogs in this state â€śone free bite.â€ť That is, a dogâ€™s handler or owner isnâ€™t held liable in civil court if the personâ€™s dog bites, attacks, mauls or even kills another person.
You read that correctly: if a dog harms you and itâ€™s the first time ever that the dog has harmed someone, you most likely have no recourse against the dogâ€™s owner.
There are two cases when this rule doesnâ€™t apply:
- You can still sue for dog bite claims and win in Virginia if you can show that the animalâ€™s owner/handler was negligent in handling the animal and did not adhere to the â€śstandard of ordinary care.â€ť
- You also can sue for liability in Virginia if your city has a leash law. That is, if a pet owner lives in a town that has a leash law, that owner is likely to be considered negligent if he or she doesnâ€™t keep the pet on a leash and the animal bites you.
Youâ€™re Not Off the Hook in a Dog Bite Claim
Virginia also has another law, this one called â€ścontributory negligence.â€ť This means that if youâ€™re found to have been somewhat at fault (even if itâ€™s only one percent your fault), then you have no right to recover damages.
Put another way, the dog attack laws in Virginia say that if itâ€™s found that you even ever-so-slightly contributed to the attack (you paused to look at an unleashed dog in an unfenced yard, called hello to it and the dog lunged at and bit you, for example), you may not have a personal injury case in Virginia against the dogâ€™s owner.
Again, this is especially true if this was the first time the dog bit someone, even if the city in which you were bitten has a leash law.
Combat Dog Attack Laws with Irving & Irving
If you or a loved one has been hurt when an animal attacks, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Irving & Irving. We will study the circumstances of your case to ascertain what liability you may hold (according to the contributory negligence rule) and, more importantly, weâ€™ll work hard and tirelessly on your behalf.
Call us at (703) 468-1885 to speak with a dog attack lawyer. Or, if you prefer to e-mail us information, please send it to
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