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Injuries stemming from a dog bite are often more serious than they initially appear. While any dog bite can result in immediate pain, some injuries could lead to more long-term consequences.

If you suffered a dog bite wound, a Charlottesville personal injury attorney at The Warren Firm may be able to help you hold the owner accountable. By filing a civil lawsuit, you could recoup your financial, physical, and emotional losses from the dog’s owner. A Charlottesville dog bite attorney could guide you in filing your lawsuit and pursuing the compensation you need.

Dog Bite Laws in Charlottesville

Most states have what is known as a “dog bite statute.” These written laws typically set out the responsibilities of dog owners and detail how they could face civil liability for injuries caused by their animals. However, there is no such statute in Charlottesville. Instead, civil liability for these injuries is governed by a series of court decisions handed down over the years. These dog bite rules are complex and may be best explained by a Charlottesville lawyer.

In general, there are two approaches to liability for a dog bite. The first manner considers the breed of the dog. The owner of a dog must take notice of the dog’s breed and it’s characteristics. The owner has to take notice of the inclinations of the dog. The owner is also charged with taking notice of the characteristics he should have known about. If the breed of dog is of the kind to likely cause injury, then the owner has a duty to use ordinary care to keep the dog from causing reasonably foreseeable injuries.

The second approach depends on whether there is a leash law. With no leash law, Virginia law allows the dog to run free if the owner of a dog is not on notice that the dog may harm others. If the dog owner knows or should know that the dog might cause injury, the owner must use ordinary care to keep the dog from harming others.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County have leash laws. These laws require that the owner of the dog not allow the dog to run at large except on private property. The Charlottesville City Ordinance states owners shall not allow their dogs to run at large at any given moment in time and despite vaccinations. Violation of this ordinance would be considered a Class 4 misdemeanor. After a fourth conviction, owners can face up to one year in jail and a Class 3 misdemeanor.

For plaintiffs to prevail in a dog bite case, they must first show the defendant was aware of his or her dog’s propensity for violence. With this knowledge, the dog owner must have carelessly or recklessly failed to take steps to prevent the dog from harming anyone. These steps could include failing to secure a gate designed to keep a dog in the yard.

This can be a challenging legal standard to meet, given the difficulty of proving what a dog owner knew about his or her animal. The simplest way to establish that the dog owner knew his or her animal was dangerous is to provide proof that the dog has bitten someone before. If a dog has a previous bite in its history, the owner is on notice that he or she must take care to protect the public from the animal.

Negligence Per Se

There is also a theory known as negligence per se that could apply in these cases. This theory provides a strong option for a Charlottesville dog bite attorney to proceed with a dog bite lawsuit.

Under this theory, a dog owner could face civil liability for any injuries the animal causes while in violation of a leash law or other ordinance related to controlling his or her pets. If dog owners allow their pets to roam free in an area where leash law is in effect, they could face liability for any injuries they cause through the negligence per se doctrine.

Speak with a Charlottesville Dog Bite Attorney

If you are bitten by a dog, you are entitled to bring a claim for monetary damages against the owner. Recovering compensation on these claims can be challenging, especially if you are pursuing your case on your own. Contact us today!

A Charlottesville dog bite attorney could help you move forward with your claim and advise you on your chances of success. Call The Warren Firm to set up an initial legal consultation.