Who is Liable for a Dog Bite Injury in West Virginia?

If you or your child was bitten by someone else’s dog, you may be wondering if you have grounds to seek financial compensation. While the dog bite laws in West Virginia do not hold pet owners strictly liable, as is true in many other states, you may still be able to file a personal injury claim if you can establish that the dog was “running at large,” that the pet owner was otherwise negligent or that the dog had bitten someone else in the past, and the owner knew about it.

Contact a Charleston injury attorney at Preston & Salango, PLLC to see if you have a case.

Understanding West Virginia’s Dog Bite Statute

Under West Virginia Code § 19-20-13, a dog owner or keeper would be held strictly liable for the actions of their pet if it attacked someone else, and they allowed it to run at large—meaning, without restraint or supervision. This means that the victim would not have to prove that the owner or keeper knew that the dog was dangerous. The fact that the dog was allowed to run at large is enough to hold them accountable for damages.

One exception to this law is that “running at large” does not apply to situations where the victim was attacked or bitten on the owner or keeper’s property. This is also true in cases where someone other than the owner or keeper allowed the dog to run at large. Even so, this does not mean that the victim is without options. In either of these cases, the victim could still file a claim based on common law negligence or the "one bite rule."

Filing a Claim Based on the “One Bite Rule”

Even if your case is not protected by West Virginia’s dog bite statute, you may still be able to file a claim based on other grounds. If you can prove that the dog has previously attacked someone else, and that the owner or keeper was aware of their dog’s vicious tendencies, you may file a claim based on the state’s “one bite rule.” Unless you are able to prove the owner had prior knowledge, however, they cannot be held accountable.

The Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases

West Virginia’s statute of limitations will limit the amount of time that you have to file a personal injury claim against a negligent dog owner, which is why you should move quickly to discuss your case with Preston & Salango, PLLC after an attack. In most situations, you will only have two years to file a lawsuit. Any cases that are filed after this two-year deadline are almost always thrown out of court, which is why prompt action is crucial.

Discuss Your Case with Preston & Salango, PLLC

Whether you or someone you love was attacked by a vicious dog, you should take action immediately by speaking to a Charleston personal injury lawyer at Preston & Salango, PLLC. Not only do we have more than four decades of combined legal experience, but we have already recovered more than $75 million in damages on behalf of former clients—earning us a coveted place in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®.

We are no strangers to the courtroom, and we know what it takes to successfully negotiate with insurance companies. Find out how we can assist you by scheduling a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys. We accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you don’t pay us a dime unless we are able to secure a favorable settlement or verdict on your behalf. Call us today to find out what we can do for you.

Categories: Personal Injury

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