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When is a Virginia Dog Owner Responsible for Dog Bites?

What Does Virginia Law Say About Dog Bites:

How does negligence per se apply to dog bites in Virginia?

Virginia law requires that a dog owner restrain and control his dog – whether or not he knows the dog is dangerous or aggressive. Most cities, towns, and counties have what are commonly called “leash laws” which require the same control over dogs.

If the dog owner fails to obey the state or local ordinance, that is known as negligence per se. This means that the owner’s failure to obey the law is enough to prove negligence even if the owner did not know the dog was dangerous or aggressive.

What is the “one-bite” rule?

This “rule” is really part of a law in the Virginia Code. It means that the dog owner is not liable if his dog bites someone UNLESS he knew or should have known the dog was aggressive or dangerous.

If the dog has bitten someone before he bites you, then the owner knows the dog is dangerous. If the dog has never bitten anyone but pulls on its leash, growling and gnashing its teeth when anyone walks into the yard, then the owner knows or should have known that the dog is dangerous. Likewise, if a dog chases bicycles biting at the wheels or rider’s feet or growls and shows its teeth at someone who comes to the door, the owner knows or should have known that the dog is aggressive or even dangerous.

If the dog owner does not know that the dog is dangerous or aggressive the one-bite rule may not apply if the owner failed to follow local or state leash laws, for in that case he would be liable under negligence per se.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys:

We concentrate our personal injury practice in vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and animal bites.

Please contact us if you’ve been injured.  We offer a free, no-obligation consultation.  We have four convenient office locations: Charlottesville, Lake Monticello, Harrisonburg & Staunton.  If you’re too injured to come in, we’ll be happy to meet you at the hospital or your home.  We will fight to get you the full value of your case.

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Yvonne T. Griffin
Personal Injury Attorney
Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Yvonne’s Bio Page
Charlottesville: 434-973-7474
Palmyra: 434-589-3636
Harrisonburg: 540-217-5470
Staunton: 540-217-5470
Matthew B. Westmoreland
Personal Injury Attorney
Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Matt’s Bio Page
Charlottesville: 434-973-7474
Palmyra: 434-589-3636
Harrisonburg: 540-217-5470
Staunton: 540-217-5470
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