Dog bites can happen to you anywhere. However, many people tend to get bitten in one of West Virginia’s dog parks, or by an aggressive runaway pet in their neighborhood. Dog bite victims often end up with injured bones, nerves, and muscles. Sometimes, bites can also cause infections such as rabies, sepsis, and tetanus, which may lead to death if left untreated.
Fortunately, you can recover from the cost of treating your injuries and hold the dog owner accountable for their dog’s actions. A West Virginia dog bite lawyer from the office of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is ready to work with you to seek compensation. You can call the team anytime at (800) 816-0755.
How Liability Works in West Virginia Dog Bites
West Virginia (WV) Code § 19-20-13 states that a dog owner will only be liable for bites and any other injuries the dog causes if they were at large at the time. For example, the owner would be liable if the dog ran free in a park or managed to get outside the owner’s property. The state will follow a common law known as the “one bite rule” if the statute above does not apply to your situation. In this rule, the dog essentially gets a free bite. The owner only becomes responsible for future bites, since they should now know that the dog might behave aggressively and must address it. It is your burden to search for proof that the dog has bitten other people before.
However, even if you cannot prove the owner’s liability through the previous two rules, you could still take legal action against them by arguing that their negligence resulted in your injury. The state considers dogs as personal property under WV Code § 19-20-1. As such, the owner should have taken reasonable care so that their property did not harm others.
Recovering Your Dog Bite Expenses
The dog owner’s home insurance policy usually includes dog bite liability coverage. You can file a claim with the insurer to have your injury-related expenses covered. Beware that it is a common tactic among insurance companies to try and reduce the amount they cover by downplaying their client’s fault. You may want to hire a dog bite lawyer to help with the negotiations. Some providers do not cover dog breeds they consider aggressive. Furthermore, you should also check if the dog owner has this type of insurance first, as it is not a requirement in West Virginia.
If the dog owner does not carry or has insufficient homeowner insurance, you could opt for a dog bite lawsuit. The civil court will examine your case before establishing the amount owed to you, even if it means the owner has to use personal finances or other assets. Winning your case lets you recover from your financial losses, such as your hospitalizations, medications, and the wages lost during treatment. You might also get compensated for more abstract costs, such as your pain and suffering.
The office of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has a West Virginia dog bite lawyer who might be able to assist in making your case. For instance, if you suspect that the dog has already bitten other people, the attorney might help search for reports, previous victims, and witnesses who have seen the dog bite in the past. They can also assist in compiling medical bills and other records of your expenses to calculate your damages. A lawyer might help by representing you when negotiating with insurance companies or presenting your case in court.
You can contact the firm if you have more inquiries regarding our legal services.
Other Reasons to Consider Hiring a Dog Bite Lawyer
Besides gathering evidence and representing you in your dog bite case, a West Virginia dog bite lawyer can help you learn more about the state’s injury laws and dog-related regulations. They will also take your county or city’s dog ordinances into account when forming your case against the owner.
Determine the Dog Owner’s Negligence
The dog bite attorney can help check if the owner has broken any dog laws, which could serve as proof that they were negligent and can help turn the case verdict in your favor. Suppose the dog that bit you was considered a dangerous breed and unlicensed. The owner would violate WV Code § 19-20-21, which requires West Virginia residents to obtain a special license for owning a “vicious” or “dangerous” dog. Which breeds are considered dangerous or vicious depends on where you live. If you lived in Huntington or Fayetteville, for instance, pit bulls would classify.
Start the Case Before You Run out of Time
The dog bite lawyer can also help you comply with the statute of limitations, also known as your case’s filing deadline. The court dismisses lawsuits that exceed their time allowance, so it is best to get started as soon as you can. According to WV Code § 55-2-12, you typically have two years to submit your suit in West Virginia. However, there are situations wherein your due date could get moved to a later date. For example, if the dog owner leaves the state, the statute timer may only resume its countdown when they return. Determining your exact time limit can be difficult if these exceptions apply to your case, but the attorney might be able to help you compute it.
Our Team Can Fight for Your Rights
West Virginia’s dog bite laws can make it rather tricky to take legal action against the dog owner. However, this should not deter you from fighting for compensation. If you have any issues with your case, the office of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has a West Virginia dog bite lawyer who can provide legal support. Our attorneys do not charge anything until you win your case.
Our legal team has more than three decades of experience handling personal injury cases for clients from all over the USA. If you want more details, you can always contact us at (800) 816-0755. You can also take advantage of our free case reviews by sending us a message through our website.