Although most Washington laws favor the dog bite victim, the reason behind a dog attack can affect your injury claim. Click here to see how.

Did I do something to cause the dog attack that left me injured?

 

A:

City and state laws in Washington tend to punish the dog and his owner in the event of an attack, no matter what the circumstances. The laws lean on the assumption that the injured party is the victim and therefore the dog (and by association, the owner) is the aggressor. As a result, the owner is usually considered liable and the dog is put down without much investigation into what caused the dog to be aggressive, why he attacked, whether he was provoked, or if he showed signs of aggression before the attack.

However, with a worldwide focus on animal rights, dog bite laws may be on the verge of an update. As such, new amendments could place a higher focus on addressing the cause of a bite in determining liability. If or when changes such as these go into effect, in order to file a successful injury claim, you’ll need to know more about what causes a dog to be aggressive.

Common Triggers of Aggression

In addition to learning common triggers to avoid dog bite injuries in the future, you can use a dog’s aggressive behavior to your advantage by showing cause, effect, and injury. On the flip side, however, when arguing the cause of your injuries, the dog’s owner can also use these triggers as a defense. This is why it is important to ensure your success by contacting an experienced lawyer to discuss your options before you file.

Canine aggression commonly stems from the following:

  • Societal treatment and trauma. Much like in human behavior, past abuse (physical or mental) can cause an animal to be anxious and overly cautious of strangers. This uncertainty can quickly build and become aggressive if the stranger does not back off.
  • Breeding. Pit bulls, German shepherds, rottweilers, and a handful of other dog breeds have been specifically bred to be more aggressive than others. These breeds are often used for law enforcement and protection and therefore tend to be overly cautious of strangers. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that all dogs of these breeds are dangerous, they do have the potential to become defensive more quickly than other breeds.
  • Instinct. Some theories suggest that domesticated animals retain certain aggressive instincts that were required for their ancestors to survive in the wild. These primitive survival instincts can cause an otherwise friendly dog to become aggressive when provoked. When a dog feels that he or his property (including owners and family) is being threatened, aggressive survival instincts break through and he may start to bark, snarl, lunge, or bite to protect what is his.

For your protection—as well as for the sake of your personal injury claim—make sure you understand these triggers and pay attention to any signs of aggression before approaching or allowing a loved one to approach an unfamiliar canine.