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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
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If dog attacks, but does not bite, do I still have a claim ?

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Dog bites are always "up close and personal." Anyone who has been the victim of a dog attack understands the impact—both physical and mental—that such an experience can have. For individuals who were actually bitten or sustained some other physical injury from the dog itself, recovery may be relatively straightforward. But what if the dog doesn’t actually make contact with you? What if your physical injuries came about while you were trying to escape from the dog? Or what if your injuries are emotional—you have trouble sleeping or are afraid to walk alone? These types of cases may be more complex. However, recovery for a dog attack doesn’t necessarily require contact with the dog’s canines or even the dog’s body.

Claims related to dog attacks in Virginia depend in large part on whether the owner of the dog knew—or should have known—that their dog was dangerous or vicious. Essentially, you need to offer evidence that the dog owner had reason to believe that their dog could attack someone and cause some type of physical or emotional injury. When thinking about how to prove the owner’s knowledge, Virginia is a state that follows what is known as the “One Bite Rule”. This ‘rule’ basically says that owners can assume their dogs are safe until that dog has demonstrated it is violent; basically until that dog has attacked one time. In essence, it gives the owner one free ‘dog attack’ pass. Then, once the dog has attacked once, the owner is ‘on notice’ that it is a dangerous dog and has an obligation to protect others from the dog. When the dog attacks again, the owner will be subject to liability.

So, in a case where an individual is attacked, but not bitten, the first hurdle you have to overcome is proving that the owner knew their dog was dangerous. Has the dog lashed out at other people before? Has the dog actually bitten someone before? Dog attack victims who can offer this type of proof increase their chances of recovery against a dog owner. These cases can turn on prior animal control records, private investigation, statements of neighbors and other records. Herndon and Leesburg dog bite lawyer Doug Landau has gone to court on behalf of dog attack victims, even in cases where the injured plaintiff was not bitten. In one case, en elderly woman was knocked to the ground by a large dog with no prior history of biting anyone. However, investigators hired by the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU found prior instances of aggressive behavior, barking, chasing and threatening adults and children in the nieghborhood such that the animal’s owners were on "notice" as to their pet’s dangerous propensities.

In tomorrow’s post, we will look at other ways that pedestrian, jogger, child or cyclist can look for liability after an attack by a dog resulting in physical harm, scarring and permanent injury.