Dog Bites and the One Free Bite Rule
We represent dog bite victims all over Washington State. Many dog bite victims know or are familiar with the dog that attacks them, it’s often a dog they’ve encountered before. In these cases, the bite is generally a shock to the victim and owner because the dog had likely never been aggressive or tried to bite before. In Washington, it doesn’t matter whether a dog has bitten someone before. There are states where dogs may be afforded “one free bite”. The term “one free bite” is a holdover from the English common law precept whereby the owner of a dog would not be held liable for a dog bite unless it was the second bite–demonstrating the owner knew the dog had dangerous tendencies.
Today, the concept of “one free bite” does not let dog owners off so easy, but it does complicate matters in states that still apply some of the common law concepts. Fortunately, Washington has enacted the strict liability policy that poses fewer barriers to recovering for injuries if you are attacked and bitten by a dog. Washington law provides that the owner of a dog that bites or otherwise attacks a person is strictly liable for the attack. While I would never say victims of dog bites are fortunate, victims can take some solace in the strict liability Washington law applies to dog bites. Owners of dogs are liable regardless of the lack of any prior viciousness or propensity for biting.
Washington has a straight-forward dog bite law but if you are the victim of a dog bite, you should contact a lawyer to help you deal with the insurance company. We represent people injured by dog bites all over the state of Washington and offer a free consultation should you need to speak with one of our attorneys about a dog bite you suffered.