Punitive damages may be awarded on top of damages for medical expenses in a dog bite case. Find out about what owner actions could lead to punitive damages.

Under what conditions might a court order punitive damages against an aggressive dog’s owner?



Aggressive dog being held by owner on a leashPunitive damages are essentially financially-based punishments to dissuade negligent parties from continuing to put others at risk. When injured as a result of a dog bite, depending on the circumstances of how and why the attack occurred, the dog’s owner may be ordered by the court to pay punitive damages. When awarded, punitive damages make an example of the defendant by requiring him to pay the plaintiff additional funds on top of the awarded injury settlement.

Evidence Needed to Pursue Punitive Damages

Many people believe that canine aggression is instinctual and occurs as a result of a dog’s violent tendencies. However, ordinarily, a dog will not attack without cause. In fact, most canine attacks occur in retaliation or defense of a human’s actions. Unfortunately, the “action” may not be something you could have avoided. In some cases, a dog’s aggressive behavior is a direct result of how his owner treats him. If this is the case with the dog that bit you, the judge may take the step of ordering the dog’s owner to pay punitive damages. However, the following will have to be proven:

  • Neglect. Punitive damages can be awarded if it is proven that the dog was neglectfully or physically abused in a way that would cause him to fear or distrust humans. Neglect can also be shown if the dog has a history of violence and the owner did nothing to prevent further attacks.
  • Malice. Punitive damages can be awarded if the owner willfully allowed or instructed the dog to attack.
  • Intent. Punitive damages may be awarded if the owner intentionally withheld information that caused the attack or would have prevented the attack if known. For example, if the owner failed to tell you that the dog was on pain medication when you attempted to pet him.

Pursuing Rightful Blame

No matter what caused the aggression which led to your attack, the owner of the dog, whether physically responsible for his aggression or not, may still be liable for your injuries. If an unprovoked canine attacked you or a loved one, you need to speak with an experienced dog bite attorney to learn more about your rights.

The complexities and liability restrictions of Washington dog bite laws can be difficult to understand. However, speaking with attorney Andrew Kim is a reliable way to make your claim as aggressive as the dog that bit you—Call our office today at 800.636.3676 or complete the convenient contact form to schedule your FREE consultation.