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Personal Injury Law: Dog Bites

Dog bites often leave the individual with extreme scarring and psychological fear of dogs. Children are typically the victims of dog bites; it is important to retain a lawyer familiar with the mandatory court approval process for all settlements involving a minor child.

Liability for Dog Bite Injuries is Statutorily Defined in Washington

  • (1) The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.
  • (2) This section does not apply to the lawful application of a police dog, as defined in RCW 4.24.410.

Municipal Codes address Dog Bites

The Spokane Municipal Code is also particularly relevant to dog bite injuries that occur in Spokane County. The code provision states:
The following dog control regulations are police regulations designed to protect public health and safety. The owner or keeper of a dog is strictly liable to control his or her dog or dogs as required herein. This means that the penalty for violation of these regulations is imposed without regard to any wrongful intention of the violator. It is unlawful for the owner or keeper of a dog or dogs to violate any of the following regulations. The owner or keeper of a dog or dogs shall prevent said dogs from:

  • (1) Running at large in Spokane County, whether licensed or not; provided, that this subsection shall not: a) prohibit a person from walking or exercising a dog in public when such dog is on a leash, tether or chain not to exceed eight feet in length; and, b) prohibit a person from having a dog off-leash in an area designated pursuant to Section 5.04.045(1) as an off-leash area provided that the requirements of Section 5.04.045(2) are met;
  • (2) Entering any place where food is stored, prepared, served or sold to the public or any public building or hall; provided, that this subsection shall not apply to any dog guide or trained service animal; to veterinarian offices or hospitals; or to dog exhibitions or organized dog training classes or to dogs used by armored car services or law enforcement agencies;
  • (3) Being accessible to other animals, while in heat, for purposes other than controlled or planned breeding;
  • (4) Chasing, running after or jumping at vehicles using public streets and alleys;
  • (5) Snapping, growling, snarling, barking in a threatening manner, jumping upon, chasing or otherwise threatening persons or animals;
  • (6) Exhibiting vicious propensities;
  • (7) Howling, yelling, whining or barking or making other oral noises in such a manner as to disturb any person or groups of persons to an unreasonable degree;
  • (8) Being kept, harbored or maintained and known to have a contagious disease unless under the treatment of a licensed veterinarian and appropriately isolated to protect the public and other animals;
  • (9) Running in packs; provided, for the purpose of this section "packs" means dogs in groups of three or more;
  • (10) Running at large when the dog has not been neutered or spayed, and the dog is six months of age or older;
  • (11) A dog declared a potentially dangerous shall not be at running at large or off the owner or keeper's property, unless it is on a leash and under physical restraint of a responsible person;
  • (12) A dog declared a dangerous dog shall not be running at large or outside a proper enclosure, unless the dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under physical restraint of a responsible person. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal.