3 Things You Need to Know About West Virginia's Dog Bite Law
The seriousness of dog bites and animal attacks is typically underestimated by the general public. Individuals who are fortunate enough to have avoided an attack or bite during their lifetimes can find it difficult to understand the totality of the dangers that can come from this type of accident. At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, however, we are well aware of the significant damages that can result from a dog bite, and as such, we have committed ourselves to helping the victims of these types of attacks.
As with all state and federal statutes and laws, those connected to dog bites and attacks are very specific and should only be handled in the presence of a qualified attorney. Additionally, there are things about the legality of these cases that a victim should know even prior to consulting with a lawyer. Specifically, there are three key elements to West Virginia's dog bite law that should be well understood when seeking legal assistance as you attempt to recover compensation for damages.
- West Virginia has a strict liability dog bite statute which is limited to dogs running at large (§19-20-13).
- Essentially, this statute states that the owner / keeper of a dog will assume responsibility for a dog bite injury, or even property damage, that results from an attack if the canine was permitted to run at large (off leash). The state's strict liability law implies that the victim will not be required to prove that the dog owner was negligent in order to receive compensation for the injuries that were sustained from an attack or bite.
- West Virginia is a limited strict liability state. This means that the "One Bite Rule" will be applied to dogs that bite but were not running at large at the time of their attack.
- The "One Bite Rule" is very much what it sounds like. Essentially, this rule states that the owner of a domesticated animal such as a dog can only be held strictly liable for any injuries that were sustained by their canine if he or she knew of the animal's potential to attack. Knowledge of this sort usually stems from a past attack or previous vicious behaviors on the part of the animal. When the "One Bite Rule" is applied to a case, it will be the responsibility of the injured person to establish burden of proof.
- Based on the aforementioned stipulations of West Virginia's dog bite statute, there are specific factors that the courts must see in order to prove owner negligence, and thus be held liable.
- The components that are necessary to establish dog owner liability can include proving that the dog owner was acting negligently; proving that the dog was running loose (on the streets, in a park, or in any other area outside of the owner's property); and proving that the dog is responsible for at least one previously reported attack or bite.
Given the nature of West Virginia's dog bite law, cases that involve claims of an attack or bite need to be handled delicately. Therefore, we encourage victims and their families to speak with a West Virginia personal injury attorney from our firm if they were recently harmed in this way. Under the guidance of an attorney at our office, dog bite victims can confidently seek compensation for their injuries. We are prepared to review your case, determine whether strict or limited liability should be pursued, and then work aggressively toward obtaining the damages to which you are rightfully entitled. Don't wait to contact our office today.