Washington State Dog Bite Laws

Washington State Dog Bite Laws

In the immediate aftermath of a dog bite, you might not be thinking of legal responses quite yet. That makes sense. The first thing you should do is make sure you and/or the person that was bit are safe and taken care of. Here are the steps you should take:


Immediate Response to a Dog Bite

Once the dog has been removed from the victim, make sure the wound isn’t putting the victim in danger. If it is deep and/or is bleeding apply pressure and get to an emergency room. If possible, take photos of the wound and the dog. If you can’t do this, that’s fine. Your first focus should be medical. 

Once you’re at the hospital the doctors should know what to do. If you are far away from an emergency room or primary care physician, gently wash the wound with soap and warm water. Apply antibiotics and wrap it in sterile bandages, remembering to change regularly to avoid infections.


Once You’re Out of Immediate Danger

Think about the situation that led to the bite, and whether pressing charges is an appropriate response. Washington State law favors the bite victim in dog bite cases, especially if they were unprovoked or in a public place, and the owner of the dog is held entirely responsible for their dog’s actions. 

One instance in which the victim is not favored by the law is if the dog owner can prove that the dog’s actions were provoked. This is why documentation of the incident is so important. If you can prove that the incident was not provoked and that it was that dog that was responsible, you can collect damages.


If it was Your Friend’s Dog

If you were bitten by a friend’s dog things can get emotionally complicated. If a dog is found by the court to be dangerous and the owner to be lacking in their duties as the owner of a dangerous dog, the court may order for the dog to be killed. If the damages from the bite are severe enough to require reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, this may be what’s best. 


Should You Press Charges 

Dog bites are traumatic and emotional, made more complicated by personal relationships with the owner. Our lawyers here at Templeton Horton Weibel and Broughton, LLC, are here to help you navigate these important decisions. We understand the difficulties of pressing charges when personal relationships are involved and at stake, and will do our best to ensure your damages will come out of the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, not their pocket.

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