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Virginia’s One-Bite Rule

In the United States, more than 33 percent of all families own at least one dog. With over a third of all households being home to these furry friends, you should have no doubts that dogs truly are “man’s best friend.” However, like any other animal, “man’s best friend” can become wary of strangers or even people they’re familiar with. As descendants of wolves, dogs are more than equipped to tear flesh from the bones of anyone they perceive as a threat. In America, close to 4.5 million people are attacked by dogs annually. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 800,000 of those attacked require medical attention. Considering that dogs are reacting on instincts when experiencing a stressful situation, you can only blame the pet owner or keeper (e.g., professional dog walker) if you have been attacked by their dog.  Even then, it still might be difficult to find the pet owner liable in court unless Virginia’s “one-bite rule” applies to the dog. The “one-bite rule” states that the owner of a domesticated animal (e.g., dog) will only be held liable for your damages if they are aware or should be aware that their pet has exhibited aggressive tendencies in the past. The burden is then placed on you, the plaintiff, to prove that the dog owner truly possessed this knowledge. If you can thoroughly prove that the “one-bite rule” applies to the dog responsible for injuries, you can then hold the owner or keeper at the time liable for all injuries that happened as a result of the attack. These injuries are not limited to bites or scratches.

Virginia’s “one-bite rule” influences dog attack claims to be anything but simple. Without proper representation from a dog bite attorney, it can be relatively difficult to receive awards for your injuries. At Goss and Fentress, our personal injury attorney is prepared to dispute on your behalf so you can receive the compensation you deserve.