When Is the Animal’s Owner Considered at Fault When an Incident of Biting Occurs?

Interviewer: if the victim is on the owner’s property when bitten or the dog’s property when bitten, is the owner at fault?

The Owner Is at Fault Unless the Animal Was Provoked to Bite as a Result of an Injury

Bill: The owner is at fault unless the animal has been provoked by an injury and it doesn’t matter where they are.   I have a case now where, and it’s a very bad case now, where a tenant had entered the property manager’s home and was viscously attacked by the property manager’s pit-bull.

Interviewer: Now, if the person is trespassing would that still be the owner at fault or would that fall on the victim.

Bill: In my opinion it would the victim and in my opinion I would never take such a case.

The State of Washington Does Not Enforce the One Bite Rule; In the Event of a Dog Bite, the Owner of the Animal Is Considered at Fault

Interviewer: I was wondering about liability in the case of a break-in. There is a statute I noted called the one bite rule that was adopted by the State of Washington. Could you explain what that rule is?

Bill: There is no one bite rule in the State of Washington.

Interviewer: There isn’t?

Bill: No.  If a person is attacked by an animal the owner of that animal is liable.

Interviewer: What are typical consequences and penalties faced by liable dog owners if their dog bites someone?

In Most Cases, Washington Animal Control Will Seize the Animal from the Owner; in Cases of Severe Injuries, the Animal Will Be Euthanized

Bill: in terms of punishment that is not my area.  The animal control people will take the animal into custody and, depending on the severity of the injury it caused, after hearing they will put the dog down.

If an Individual Renting Property Is Attacked by a Landlord’s Dog, Who Is Liable?

Interviewer: In the event that a person is renting a property from a landlord and the renter’s dog attacks someone who’d be liable in that situation?   Is it the renter or the landlord?

The Owner Is Liable Unless There Is a Contractual Connection between Renter and Landlord

Bill: The owner of the dog unless there is a contractual connection between the renter and the landlord.  For example, in a case that I’m handling the renter was also the property manager and as such the owner of the property who employs the renter/manager is liable.

If You Hire an Individual to Care for Your Dog and an Attack Occurs, as the Owner, You Are Liable 

Interviewer: Say I owned an animal and I hired a dog walker, dog sitter or trainer.  While my animal was in the possession of that person an attack occurred, would I be liable or would the person that was in control of the animal at the time be liable?

Bill: You would be liable. The walker is an agent of you as the owner.  You are responsible for your agent’s behavior.  When I say behavior, you’re responsible for the dog attack even when you have an agent or a dog walker with the animal.

If Your Animal, While in the Care of another Individual, Bites through Abuse Sustained from that Individual, the Owner Is Not Liable

Interviewer: If the animal in question had been provoked through the victims teasing, tormenting abuse would the owner still be liable in that situation?

Bill: I wouldn’t represent him.  I think that it’s pretty clear that the owner, in my opinion, would not be liable.

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