Dog Bites & Animal Attacks
Dog Bite & Animal Attack Injury Lawyer
Cranston & Edwards PLLC – Morgantown, WV Trial Attorneys
If you have been seriously injured as a result of a bite or attack by a dog or any other type of domestic or wild animal housed on private property, call Cranston & Edwards PLLC for a free case evaluation right away. No matter how friendly and lovable a pet may appear to be, it is an animal and it has instincts. All animals are capable of biting and attacking people –this is basic common sense that some animal caretakers willfully ignore.
West Virginia Dog Bite Laws
Several West Virginia statutes and legal doctrines address liability as it applies to dog bites. Essentially, the owner/guardian of any dog not properly secured within the state of West Virginia whose dog injures an individual is fully liable for all injuries and losses caused by their dog. If the dog is properly secured, the owner remains liable if he or she acted in negligence, was in violation of a local public safety law, or was aware that the dog previously exhibited dangerous conduct or bit someone. There are several exceptions and deviations to West Virginia’s statutes as they relate to dog bites, including the age of the victim. To find out if you have a case, contact Cranston & Edwards PLLC.
Maximum Financial Compensation for Scars, Wounds & Mental Trauma
Animal attacks can leave you with serious injuries, life-long disabilities, high medical bills, lost wages, and other significant damages — including death. When an animal caretaker fails to prevent their dog or animal from attacking, Cranston & Edwards PLLC works hard to hold these individuals fully accountable for their negligence. Our Morgantown personal injury trial lawyers protect the legal rights of dog bite and animal attack victims to ensure maximum financial compensation for all losses incurred, including pain, suffering, and emotional trauma.
- Broken Bones
- Mental Trauma
- Puncture Wounds
- Long-term Fear of Dogs
The “One Bite” Rule and Signs Indicating Previous Dangerous Conduct
Although many victims of dog bites are dissuaded from pursuing their right to just compensation for their dog bite injuries by West Virginia’s controversial “One Bite” rule, remember that there are several behaviors (aside from bites) that indicate that the dog previously exhibited dangerous conduct – and should have been more fully restrained or controlled by the owner prior to the injury you sustained. If a dog previously exhibited aggressive behavior of any kind, the owner can be considered to have had previous knowledge of the dog’s propensity to attack.
- Barking at strangers
- Owner receiving complaints about the dog from neighbors, visitors, law enforcement, etc.
- Jumping on guests and passersby
- Growling, snapping, or otherwise threatening people
- Lunging toward or fighting with other dogs
- Running along its fence, barking at (or otherwise frightening) people
- Having been trained to guard a premises or fight
- Posting “Beware of Dog” signs
When dog owners are found liable, the homeowner’s insurance policy of the dog owner usually covers the victim’s losses. If the dog was owned by a renter, we may have to look at other avenues to access potential sources of compensation. The actual real estate property owner, real estate management company, or other responsible party may be held liable.
Dangerous Dog Breeds and Negligence
Certain types of dog breeds are well known to be both more prone to executing random attacks and causing serious or fatal injuries, largely due to their genetic phenotypes. All dogs have been selectively bred for certain traits – and some have been bred, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to be more aggressive and powerful than others. For example, while the average Chihuahua may be more likely to bite, its bite isn’t extremely likely to result in serious injury or death. In contrast, some genetic lines of pit bull-type breeds (American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers – all bred for pit fighting, herding livestock, and attacking wild boar) are well known for being responsible for the most fatal dog-on-human attacks in recent history – a stunning 66% of total dog mauling fatalities despite comprising a mere 6.5% of the dog population.
Liability When Harboring Large Breed Dogs
When an owner chooses to ignore the significant, factual evidence related to dangerous dog breeds and elects to harbor such a breed, negligence may be assumed in some cases. Willful ignorance of facts is no defense to liability when harboring a known potentially dangerous dog breed such as the fighting lines of pit bulls, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Wolf Hybrids, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, and other large breeds of dogs and other large animals capable of inflicting serious injuries and causing death. Although some lines were bred for companionship and may never attack, when these large and powerful fighting lines, specifically bred to take down large prey, do attack, there exists an indisputable increased morbidity and mortality rate, as well as significantly higher medical bills and losses.
When Dangerous Exotic Animals Attack
When selecting a pet, some individuals are drawn to novel exotic species, such as cassowaries, large cats such as tigers and ocelots, chimpanzees, and alligators. Despite decades of evidence of these wild animals’ unsuitability as domesticated pets, we continue to witness attacks – sometimes fatal – when these wild and powerful animals display their natural animalistic tendencies. Willful ignorance of the dangerous nature of these animals does not relieve liability for those who choose to harbor these man killers.
The Duty to Leash, Fence In, or Otherwise Restrain Dogs
If one chooses to keep a dog, a duty exists to maintain some form of control over the animal. Owners have a legal responsibility to leash, fence in, or otherwise restrain and maintain control of their pets. When they fail to uphold this duty, they may be held fully liable for any act on the animal’s part.
If you have been seriously injured by a dog or other dangerous animal, contact Cranston & Edwards PLLC right away. We understand that animal attacks can be emotionally harrowing and financially devastating. If you or a loved one have incurred medical expenses related to an animal attack including medical care, cosmetic surgery, physical and/or emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, or other losses, we will fight for your right to obtain the maximum compensation allowed by law. For a free case evaluation, call: 304-296-3500.