More than 4.7 million Americans suffer from dog bites every year. Children are especially vulnerable and constitute more than half of all dog bite victims, followed by senior citizens and mail carriers.Vancouver Dog Bite Attorneys

Washington State has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to protecting victims of dog bites. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, let Vancouver dog bite attorneys Colin Scott and The Scott Law Firm, PLLC assist you with getting the compensation you deserve. Contact us today!


What are the dog bite laws in Washington?

The basic law provides that dog owners are liable for dog bites—even if the dog has never bitten anyone before (referred to as “strict liability”). It does not matter whether the attack occurred on public or private party, so long as the victim was there lawfully. See RCW 16.08.040. If a dog has a history of biting people, this liability is expanded. See RCW 16.08.100 (imposing criminal liability where owner was previously aware of dog’s dangerous propensities). Dog owners can also be held liable if they fail to properly control their dog. See RCW 16.080.090 ; see also Arnold v. Laird, 94 Wash.2d 867, 871, 621 P.2d 138 (1980) (owner liable if negligent in failing to prevent harm).

Are there any defenses?

Yes, there are two main defenses: (1) provocation; and (2) trespassing. Provocation is a complete defense and must be proved by the dog’s owner. See RCW 16.08.060. Trespassing must also be proved by the dog’s owner, but is not a complete defense in all cases. See Brewer v. Furtwangler, 171 Wash. 617, 18 P.2d 837 (1933); see also Johnston v. Ohls, 76 Wn.2d 398, 457 P.2d 194 (1969).

Who is the dog’s legal owner?

The dog’s owner is anyone (whether a person, firm, corporation, organization, or department) who possesses, harbors, keeps, has an interest in, or has custody or control of the dog. See RCW 16.08.070(7).

Can a landlord be held legally responsible for a tenant’s dog?

Generally the answer is “no” unless the landlord possesses, harbors, keeps, has an interest in, or has custody or control of the dog. See RCW 16.08.070(7).

What happens if I was bitten by a police dog?

Police dogs are exempt under RCW 16.08.040(2). However, this exemption only applies if the police dog was used lawfully when the attack occurred. See, e.g., Finch v. Thurston County, 45792-0-11 (Wash. Court of Appeals, Div. II, 2015).

Is there a time limit to file a claim for a dog bite injury?

Yes, the general statute of limitations in Washington is 3 years from the date of injury, but may vary depending on the facts in your situation (such as when a child is injured). Once the statute expires you can no longer seek compensation for your injuries. Therefore it is extremely important to identify the applicable statute of limitations in your case. For questions regarding the statute of limitations, contact us for a free consultation!

What should I do if my child is bitten by a dog?

First seek appropriate medical treatment (in case of emergency dial 911). Then contact the local authorities and tell them everything you remember about the attack including the dog owner’s name, when and where the attack occurred, nature of injuries inflicted, physical description of the dog, where the dog was last seen, names of witnesses, and anything else you can think of that will help authorities identify the dog and its owner. If your child is seriously injured, contact us for a free consultation and one of our attorneys will be happy to speak with you!

In the event of an attack, how do I get compensated for my injuries?

Many home owner’s insurance policies include coverage for dog bites—regardless of where the attack occurred. Depending on your situation, there may be additional sources of coverage available. If you have questions concerning coverage, contact us for a free consultation!

Who can I contact to report a dangerous dog in Clark County, Washington?

In case of emergency, dial 911. You may also contact your local animal control services, sheriff, or police department.

  • Clark County Animal Control Services: (360) 397-2488
  • Clark County Sheriff’s Office: (360) 397-2211
  • City of Washougal Police Department: (360) 835-8701
  • City of Battle Ground Police Department: (360) 342-5100
  • City of La Center Police Department: (360) 263-2745
  • City of Ridgefield Police Department: (360) 887-3556

What are some important dog bite prevention tips?

  • Pick a dog that is a good match for your home.
  • Socialize and train your dog.
  • Neuter or spay your dog, and make sure they are vaccinated against rabies and other diseases.
  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for a litter.
  • Avoid aggressive breeds.

Disclaimer: Web content is not legal advice.  Using this website and/or any of the information contained herein does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  You may not rely upon, nor should you act on, the information contained on this website without first consulting with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction and is familiar with the facts in your individual situation.  To learn more about how The Scott Law Firm, PLLC can assist you or a friend with a legal matter, contact us today for a free consultation!