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The basics of dog bite laws in Virginia

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Personal Injury

Dogs are our friendly furry companions. Many dog owners adore their pets and dogs respond with unconditional love of their own. A dog owner might never dream that their canine would bite, but even the gentlest dog could, in the right situation, lash out.

Dog bites can be emotionally traumatic and physically painful. They can lead to scarring and even disfigurement. Those who have been bitten by a dog in Virginia will want to make sure they understand their legal options for holding the dog owner liable for their pet’s actions.

One-bite rule

Virginia follows a version of the “one-bite rule” when it comes to negligence and dog bites. Basically, if an owner knew or should have known their dog was dangerous, because their dog had bitten someone in the past, then they may be held liable for the bite. And while it may seem like this means a dog is entitled to “one free bite,” dog owners still must use due care in controlling their pets.

Negligence per se

Even if a dog never bit before, if the owner failed to use due care in controlling their pet, a person may be able to sue on grounds of “negligence per se.” For example, if the dog’s owner does not follow applicable leash laws, and their dog runs loose and bites someone, they may be found negligent “per se.”

Recovering after a dog bite

Recovering from a dog bite can be physically and emotionally painful. Some dog bites leave disfiguring scars. A dog bite victim may need extensive medical care to recover from the incident. For this reason, dog bite victims will want to make sure they understand whether they are entitled to pursue compensation for the harms they suffered.