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Are dog owners in Virginia strictly liable for dog bite injuries?

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2024 | Personal Injury

Even the most well-trained dogs can act aggressively in certain situations. If you are bitten by a dog in Viriginia, the owner of the dog may be liable for your injuries under Virginia’s one-bite rule or negligence.

One-bite rule

Some states have strict liability laws governing dog bite cases, meaning that the owner of the dog can be held liable for their dog’s bite, even if the dog had never attacked a person before and never exhibited signs of aggression.

Under Virginia’s one-bite rule, however, dog owners can be held strictly liable for the victim’s injuries only if they already knew or should have known of their dog’s dangerous propensities or if the dog had bitten someone before.

Exceptions to the one-bite rule

There are certain cases where a dog owner may not be held strictly liable for their dog’s injuries. Some of these exceptions include:

  • The victim provoked the dog prior to the incident
  • The victim was trespassing at the time of the incident or committing another type of crime on the dog owner’s property
  • The dog was with law enforcement and was on duty at the time of the incident


Dog owners may also be held liable for dog bite injuries under the theory of negligence. Dog owners who have breached the duty they owe to others to be a responsible dog owner may be legally negligent, if their negligence caused another person to suffer injury. Dog owners may engage in negligent activities such as:

  • Failing to properly leash their dog.
  • Failing to properly secure their dog in a fenced area.
  • Failing to warn of the dog’s past dangerous behavior.

Dog bite victims may file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner and recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other dog bite-related damages. If you have been bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible and collect evidence (photos of injuries, clothing damaged during the incident, pay stubs, medical records, etc.) to present during your case.