Virginia law provides protections for both dog owners and victims of dog bites. If you are involved in a dog bite incident, it is important to know that Virginia follows a system of contributory negligence. The law maintains that a person whose negligent acts led to their own injury cannot recover damages for those injuries. This holds true when an injured person is partially or fully at fault for a dog attack.
Whether or not a dog is considered “dangerous” also plays an important role in the legal options for each party. To prove that a dog owner (the defendant) is liable for damages, a victim (the plaintiff) can demonstrate that the owner knew the dog was dangerous or aggressive. The plaintiff can alternately show that the dog owner neglected their duty of care by failing to properly restrain or handle the dog.
Under Virginia law, a dog can be deemed dangerous if:
A dog may not be deemed dangerous if:
If a court finds that a dog is dangerous, the owner can be ordered to pay damages to any person injured by the dog or to any person whose pet was injured or killed by the dog. Owners of dogs that are known to be dangerous are required to have liability insurance of at least $100,000 that covers dog bites. When a dog that is labeled as dangerous attacks another person or animal, the owner may face criminal penalties along with civil liability.
There is generally a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Virginia, including those for dog bite cases. When you choose to speak to our firm and explore your options after an animal attack, our lawyers can work to collect and preserve evidence that could prove crucial to your case. To schedule a consultation with a legal professional at Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C., call 434-973-7474 or contact us online. With offices in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Palmyra and Staunton, we represent clients throughout the state.
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