When you are bitten by a dog in Washington State, who is legally responsible for the dog attack? Who is responsible for your medical bills, recovery, lost wages, and pain and suffering?
Dog bite laws vary by state, and in Washington State, the owner or keeper of the animal is strictly liable for their dog's actions - the law favors dog bite victims and is tough on those who harbor aggressive or dangerous pets.
Specifically, if the owner or keeper of a dog has previous knowledge that the dog has bitten or injured someone or something before, or has previous knowledge that the dog has indicated that it could be capable of biting or injuring someone, then they can be liable for any and all of the dog's actions. If a dog does not have a history of aggression, dogs in Washington State are considered harmless. In many states in the country, this is referred to as a one-bite rule.
If the owner of the dog knows that his or her dog could act aggressively and injure someone, they can also be liable for negligence if they fail to control or restrain their dog. Failing to control a dog could consist of letting the dog off of the leash or to run loose or not properly fencing the dog in.
In addition to the one-bite rule, Washington has revised its laws to include strict liability. This more modern law states that the owner of any dog that bites any person - in either a public place or on private property - is liable for damages incurred by the victim.
Washington also protects landlords from dog bite liability - landlords cannot be held responsible for their tenet's dangerous animals. The only case in which a landlord can be liable for a dog attack is if he or she is the owner, keeper, or harborer of the animal in question.