Rough Year for Dog Bites in Virginia

Every year, hundreds of people in Hampton Roads and throughout Virginia are the victims of dog bites. In fact, a Norfolk Health Department report listed 860 dog bite complaints in the City of Norfolk through July 2009. Moreover, the Virginian-Pilot has reported several stories so far this year involving deaths and serious injuries stemming from dog bites. For example, a seven-month-old baby was reported in critical condition in Newport News after being attacked by a Pit Bull in February; a four-year-old child was mauled by a Norfolk K-9 dog in June; a woman was attacked by a dog at a Virginia Beach gas station in July; and a man died from wounds inflicted by two Pit Bulls in Loudon County in August. The list goes on and on.

While a majority of states hold a dog owner strictly liable for injuries caused by the owner’s dog, Virginia is among the minority of jurisdictions that adheres to the “one bite” rule. Meaning, every Virginia dog gets “one free bite” and the owner is not held responsible for the dog’s first aggressive act. However, if the dog owner or another person was responsible for the injury by being negligent or breaking a law, such as a leash law, then that person can be held legally liable.

The lawyers of Pierce & Thornton have represented numerous people who have been seriously injured by dog bites. If you need our help, please call today to speak to one of our attorneys.