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Dog Bite Lawyer

We get justice for injured people

Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog bite injuries can be life altering on so many levels. Not only can they result in serious physical and emotional trauma, but they can also lead to incredibly expensive medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and long term psychological effects. That’s why situations like this often require the knowledge and leadership of a proven Virginia dog bite attorney. 

At RVA Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced K-9 bite lawyers understand the nuance and complexity of dog bite cases, and are here to walk you through the process step-by-step. Our expertise in Virginia dog bite laws allows us to confidently and effectively represent victims who’ve suffered animal bite injuries while fighting for the best outcome possible.

Continue reading to learn more about VA animal bite laws, and what you can do if you’ve suffered injuries.  

If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, we are here to help. Sharif Gray has won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. Call us at (804) 915-1611 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We will get justice for you.

Dog Bite Statistics To Know

Most personal injury lawyers will tell you that dog bites are a lot more common than you’d think. In fact, according to the CDC, there are more than 4.5 millions dog bites in the US every year – Many of which require immediate medical attention. Further,  an average of 43 deaths per year can be attributed to a dog attack. 

The trends in VA are on par with the national averages. These sobering facts should further highlight the importance of awareness and prevention. In many cases:

  • Children generally suffer more severe injuries
  • Most of these dog bites happen in a familiar setting and typically involve dogs the victim knows. 
  • Adults who have two or more dogs living with them are five times more likely to be bitten than those without dogs. 

Understanding these statistics is absolutely crucial for victims and their families. It helps in recognizing the prevalence of the issue and the importance of seeking legal assistance. 

Our experienced animal bite lawyers use these statistics and others to drill down on the seriousness of these types of cases while advocating for better safety measures, stricter enforcement of dog ownership laws, and maximum compensation for pet injuries. 

Laws About Dangerous or Vicious Dogs in VA

Virginia law takes dog bite cases seriously. As such, they take a very strict stance on dangerous and vicious dogs in the state. Under Virginia dog bite laws, a dog could be classified as “dangerous” or “vicious” based on its past behavior. For example, if it has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or another animal, it’ll likely be considered dangerous. 

This classification is critical for assigning liability in dog bite cases, as it can significantly impact the legal proceedings and your potential to recover compensation.

Once a dog is classified as vicious/dangerous, the owner is then required to take highly specific measures to prevent future attacks. This can include securing the dog in a locked enclosure, posting visible warning signs, and other steps. 

Understanding these laws helps your lawyer build a strong case against dog owners – Particularly when it comes to proving negligence or their failure to follow legal responsibilities. 

What Is a Dog Bite Claim in Virginia?

A dog bite claim in the Commonwealth equates to a legal action that’s initiated by the animal bite victim against the dog’s owners to seek compensation for their injuries and damages suffered as a result of the dog attack. 

This specific kind of personal injury claim hinges on establishing the dog owner’s negligence and/or the animal’s history of aggression. Generally, what sets Virginia’s dog bite liability laws apart from other states is the “one bite rule.” Essentially, this rule implies that a dog owner can be held liable if they knew or should have known about their dog’s aggressive tendencies – Which isn’t always easy to prove without the help of a pet injury lawyer. 

Further, dog bite claims can be filed when the victim can show that the dog’s owner didn’t reasonably control or restrain their dog leading up to and during the incident. For example, if a K-9 owner doesn’t have their dog on a leash or ignores previous signs of aggression, they could be held liable for any damages resulting from the attack. 

Who’s Eligible to File a Claim?

Have you suffered an animal bite injury, but not sure whether you qualify to file a dog bite claim in VA? Generally, eligibility (i.e., likelihood to succeed) to recover compensation for a dog attack depends on the victim’s relationship with the dog and the overall circumstances of the event. Here are a few key considerations: 

  1. Victims of Unprovoked Attacks: Most dog attacks are unprovoked. In cases where the victim didn’t tease, harm, or threaten the dog, they are typically eligible to file a claim.
  2. Trespassers vs. Lawful Visitors: Lawful visitors typically have a higher chance of success compared to trespassers – However, that’s not a guarantee. Generally, homeowners have a duty of care to ensure their property, including their pets, doesn’t cause harm to lawful visitors. 
  3. Children and Dog Bites: Sometimes children don’t necessarily understand the risks of interacting with a dog – Which is why special considerations (i.e., the attractive nuisance doctrine) are often given to minors who’ve been attacked by a dangerous dog. 
  4. Knowledge of Dog’s Aggressiveness: Suppose you’ve been attacked by a neighbor’s dog that’s known to be aggressive or dangerous. In that case, you’d have a solid foundation for a claim since the owner likely had knowledge of the dog’s temperament before the attack.
  5. Negligence of the Dog Owner: If the dog owner failed to adhere to local leash laws or was negligent in controlling their pet, victims of bites under these circumstances are generally eligible to file a claim.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence or carelessness of pet owners, we’re here to help you recover monetary compensation for your injuries. Contact us today, whether you need a bite lawyer in Richmond, Northern Virginia, or the Tidewater region, we’re here to help. 

What Are The Six Levels of Dog Bites?

While these “levels of dog bites” aren’t codified in Virginia laws, they do offer valuable insights into what’s considered serious and what’s not. For the most part, Virginia dog bite settlements are more likely to be compensated more for severe bites than they are for encounters that don’t cause any physical harm. 

That being said, Dog bites can be categorized into levels, each reflecting the severity and potential consequences of the attack. These dog bite levels include: 

  • Level 1 : No skin contact, but the dog displays aggressive behavior from the dog (i.e., barking or lunging)
  • Level 2: The dog’s teeth contacts the skin but doesn’t cause puncture marks (maybe scratches or bruising). 
  • Level 3 : The dog’s bite results in 1-4 shallow puncture wounds, which most likely will require medical attention.  
  • Level 4: An aggressive attack that leads to 1-4 deep puncture wounds. In many cases, these injuries require emergency medical treatment and could even lead to permanent scarring or injuries. 
  • Level 5: Multiple bites or attacks from the same dog or multiple dogs. These incidents are particularly vicious and typically lead to very severe, sometimes permanent injuries.
  • Level 6: Animal attack that leads to an individual’s death. 

You don’t have to be the best dog bite lawyer to understand these levels. However, knowing how they can be applied to your dog bite claim is incredibly important. This knowledge allows your lawyer to appropriately assess what fair compensation looks like in terms of  medical bills, emotional distress, lost income, and more. 

What’s The Statute of Limitations For a Dog Bite Claim?

If you’ve suffered a dog bite in Virginia, you have a limited amount of time to actually file a claim. In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims (including dog bites) is two years from the date the event occurred. 

This two-year period allows more than enough time (in most cases)  for victims to recover and assess the full extent of their physical and emotional injuries. This legally imposed time restraint also means that you’ll need to seek legal advice and begin the claim process as soon as possible – Otherwise, waiting too long could disqualify you from being able to file a claim. 

Early consultation with a dog bite injury lawyer not only ensures all necessary evidence is collected and preserved,  but also makes certain that legal actions are taken within the prescribed time limits. Our role is to guide you step-by-step through the animal attack legal process while doing everything we can to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. 

Common Injuries Caused By Dog Bites

A K-9 attack can happen anywhere and at any time. These bites can result in a whole host of injuries that span the spectrum from minor to life-threatening. Some of the most common afflictions resulting from dog bites in VA include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Punctures to the Skin: Shallow or deep wound resulting from the dog’s teeth which are prone to infection and usually require medical treatment. 
  • Lacerations/Abrasions: Tears or deep scraps that may require stitches and sterilization. 
  • Broken Bones: Larger, more aggressive dog breeds can exert a force that’s so strong it breaks bones –  especially in children or elderly victims.
  • Nerve Damage: Severe bites can lead to damaged nerves, which might result in loss sensation or even functioning of the area. 
  • Infections: Dog bites can introduce deadly bacteria into the wound, leading to unsavory infections like rabies, tetanus, or bacterial infections.
  • Emotional Trauma: Animal attacks can cause all types of short and long term mental distress  – This can include but isn’t restricted to anxiety, fear of dogs, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The sheer range and severity of potential injuries from dog bites further highlight the importance of understanding the potential risks and consequences of dangerous animal encounters. In most cases, these injuries not only require immediate medical attention but can also have long-lasting impacts on you and your loved ones’ lives. 

How Does Contributory Negligence Apply to Dog Bite Cases?

Virginia is one of four states that follows strict contributory negligence laws. This doctrine severely impacts the outcome of dog bite lawsuits because it can wipe out a victim’s claim if they are even slightly at fault for the attack. Here are some key points to consider about contributory negligence in VA dog bite cases: 

  • Definition of Contributory Negligence: Suppose a dog bites you, but the court considers you partially at fault. In this case or similar, you could be barred from recovering any damages at all. 
  • Victim’s Behavior: It could be considered contributory negligence if you provoked the dog, trespassed on the property where it was kept, or ignored clear warning signs of the dog’s violent tendencies.
  • Impact on Claims: If contributory negligence applies to your case, it could severely hinder your ability to In cases where contributory negligence is applicable, the victim’s ability to recover compensation can be severely limited or completely denied.
  • Children and Negligence: Courts typically apply different standards when handling cases involving children.

Understanding and counteracting potential claims of contributory negligence is crucial in dog bite cases. Our  Virginia dog bite lawyers meticulously examine the finer details of each case to determine if contributory negligence may be a factor – And if it is, how much of a factor. We want to ensure that you’re not unjustly penalized for circumstances that were far beyond your control while advocating for your right to fair compensation. 

How are Damages Determined?

In Virginia dog bite cases, determining the damages that can be claimed is a crucial aspect of the legal process. For the most part, how much a victim is compensated depends on many factors like the severity of injuries, overall impact on daily life, and more. With that in mind, here’s how a dog bite claim damages are usually assessed: 

  1. Medical Expenses: This can include everything from the cost for emergency care to any future medical needs related to the dog bite.
  2. Lost Wages and Earning Capacity: Suppose an animal bite victim loses time from work or they’re unable to return at all due to their injuries. In that case, they could seek damages for lost wages and reduced earning capacity. 
  3. Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and emotional distress caused by the attack.
  4. Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement: If the attack is particularly vicious and results in permanent physical changes, the victim may receive additional compensation.
  5. Quality of Life: If the victim loses the ability to enjoy life and/or partake in activities they once enjoyed, they could seek damages. 
  6. Punitive Damages: In rare cases where the dog owner’s actions are considered reckless, punitive damages can be awarded to further punish the owner and deter similar behavior in them or others in the future. 

After an animal attack injury, you may think about the immediate physical and financial repercussions of the event. Our injury attorneys are here to consider how it’ll affect you now and in the distant future. Don’t settle for low ball settlement offers when you don’t have to – Contact us today for your free consultation. 

How Much is My Case Worth?

Outside of local ordinances, there’s no difference between a Richmond dog bite attack and one occurring in Alexandria – The damages are essentially calculated the same. However, each case has its own unique attributes, and the worth of it depends on the specifics of the event and severity of injuries. 

For example, a minor bite that requires minimal medical attention may (and most likely will) result in a lower settlement compared to a severe attack that led to significant physical and/or emotional trauma. Additionally, cases where permanent scarring, disfigurement, or disabilities are involved often call for higher compensation due to the lasting impact.

To get a clearer picture of the potential worth of your claim, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Virginia personal injury attorney about the details of your case.  

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite in Virginia

If you or your loved one has been bitten by a dangerous dog in Virginia, it’s important to take steps to protect your health, legal standing, and finances. While every case is different, here are a few general  steps to consider after suffering serious injuries due to a vicious dog bite:

  1. Seek Proper Medical Treatment: This helps to prevent infections, treat puncture wounds, and document injuries caused by someone else’s dog. 
  2. Report the Incident: Notify local animal control or the police about the dog bite. An official report provides a formal record of the event.
  3. Gather Information: Don’t forget to get the contact details of the dog owner and any witnesses. Also, be sure to note the dog’s description and other notable factors. 
  4. Document Injuries: Take pics and videos of your injuries and be sure to keep all of your medical records/receipts that are related to your treatment.
  5. Don’t Negotiate with the Dog Owner: If you directly communicate with the dog owner about potential compensation as this can complicate legal proceedings further down the road.
  6. Consult a Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer: Injured victims should seek the legal representation of a qualified dog bite attorney to discuss eligibility to recover monetary damages for the injuries sustained. 

Each of these steps can have a massive effect on the outcome of the case. Not only will it ensure you get necessary treatment, but it’ll also lay the groundwork for any legal action you may decide to pursue. Remember, the aftermath of a dog bite can be absolutely overwhelming, but taking these steps can help protect your health and legal interests.

How Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help?

A dog bite attorney in Virginia plays a pivotal role in navigating the ins and outs of dog bite injury cases. They offer expertise in assessing the incident, determining who’s liable, considering contributory negligence, and ensuring that victims receive the fair compensation they deserve. Here’s how: 

  • Legal Guidance: Clarity on Virginia’s dog bite laws and legal advice for the best course of action.
  • Case Preparation: Collect evidence (i.e.,  medical records, witness statements, CCTV footage, etc.) to build a solid case.
  • Negotiate With Insurance Companies: Ensuring insurers don’t get away with low ball offers or deny legitimate dog bite claims. 
  • Court Representation: If necessary, represent you in court while advocating for your rights and best interests.

At RVA Personal Injury Lawyers, our VA dog bite attorneys are instrumental in guiding you through the tough legal process while you recover from your injuries. Are you ready to discuss your case? Contact us for your free initial consultation with a proven animal bite lawyer today. 

Dog Bite Attorney Virginia – Frequently Asked Questions 

What Happens If I’m Bitten By a Stray Dog?

If you’re bitten by a stray dog in Virginia, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention due. Next, be sure to report the incident to local animal control or other official dog bite resources. In many cases, they can locate the dog – which is absolutely crucial when checking for rabies.

If the dog can’t be found, your physician might still recommend a rabies shot as a safety precaution. Due to the nature of stray dog bites, it can be difficult to recover damages. However, your attorney should be able to provide you with more clarity regarding the specifics of your case. 

What’s a Defense to Dog-Bite Claims in Virginia?

Generally, the most common defenses to dog-bite claims include provocation and trespassing. Suppose the dog owner can prove that the victim provoked the dog or was trespassing on their property at the time of the attack. 

In cases like this or similar, these set of circumstances could potentially  absolve or even reduce the owner’s liability. Further, contributory negligence, where the victim’s actions contributed to the incident, could also be a defense – Which, if successful, could bar the victim from recovering damages.

How Many Times Can A Dog Bite Before Being Put Down?

Virginia does have a “one bite rule,” but that doesn’t apply to the number of times a dog can bite someone before they’re euthanized. In fact, there’s no set number of bites before a dog is put down. 

Generally, this decision depends largely on the severity of the bite, the dog’s history, and local ordinances. A dog that’s deemed ‘dangerous’ or ‘vicious’ under Virginia law could face much stricter regulations or euthanasia, especially if it causes severe injuries or death. Each case will be evaluated individually by the local animal control authorities.

Are Vets Required to Report Dog Bites in Virginia?

Absolutely. All veterinarians and medical facilities are required to report dog bites to local health departments and animal control offices. This is part of public health measures to both monitor and control the spread of rabies. 

Typically, this report includes detailed information about the dog, the owner, and the bite incident in question. This data is crucial for public safety and could also be used in legal proceedings related to the dog bite.

What Happens When a Dog Bite is Reported in VA?

Once a dog attack is reported to the appropriate authorities, local animal control investigates the incident. They assess the entirety of the situation, including:

  • Severity of the bite
  • Circumstances of the attack
  • Dog’s history

Depending on the circumstances, the dog might be quarantined to monitor for rabies or other diseases. In the case the dog is deemed dangerous, specific legal actions (i.e., imposing restrictions on the dog or ordering its removal) may be taken. 

If you’ve suffered a vicious dog attack in Virginia, you don’t have to fight the insurance company on your own – We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with Virginia dog bite attorneys you can trust.

“We Get Justice For Injured People In Court, and We Love What We Do”

We are not settlement lawyers. Sharif Gray has proven that he can and will get results in court, and the insurance companies know that. If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, we can help.

Sharif Gray is committed to trying cases well. Because of that, he does not handle hundreds of cases at a time. He is selective in the cases he takes so he can get justice for the people he represents. In every case, he has three goals:

  1. Hold the responsible corporation or individual fully accountable.
  2. Make the community safer, so others are not also harmed.
  3. Compensation that recognizes the full and fair value of what was taken from your health and quality of life.

We love what we do, and we are proud of the positive impact we have had and will continue to have on the people we represent and the community we live in.

If we can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to call us at (804) 915-1611 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We will get justice for you.


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    Why Choose RVA Personal Injury Lawyers?

    There are many personal injury lawyers in Virginia, but we believe that we stand out for several reasons:


    We have a deep understanding of the legal and insurance systems in Virginia and will use this knowledge to get justice on your behalf.


    Sharif Gray has a proven track record of success in securing millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for his clients. We will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.

    Personalized Attention

    We understand that every case is unique and we take the time to listen to your story and understand your needs and goals. We will work with you to develop a customized legal strategy to get the justice you deserve.

    No Fee Until We Win

    We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless you get paid. You can rest assured that we are working hard to get you the best possible result.

    If you’ve been injured in Virginia at no fault of your own, contact RVA Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    For answers specific to your case, please give us a call at (804) 915-1611 or contact us online.

    How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?

    The statute of limitations is two years for most personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases in Virginia.

    For most cases, you must file a lawsuit within that time frame. But there are exceptions. Give us a call at (804) 915-1611 to discuss your options.

    What is the amount of a verdict or settlement based on?

    In Virginia, the jury considers the following factors when deciding the amount of a verdict:

    (1) Any bodily injuries sustained and their effect on health according to their degree and probable duration;

    (2) Any physical pain and mental anguish suffered in the past and any that may be reasonably expected to suffer in the future;

    (3) Any disfigurement or deformity and any associated humiliation or embarrassment suffered in the past and any that may be reasonably expected to suffer in the future;

    (4) Any inconvenience caused in the past and any that probably will be caused in the future;

    (5) Any medical expenses incurred in the past and any that may be reasonably expected to occur in the future;

    (6) Any earnings lost because of being unable to work at their calling;

    (7) Any loss of earnings and lessening of earning capacity, or either, that may reasonably be expected to sustain in the future; and

    (8) Any property damage sustained.

    Virginia Model Jury Instruction No. 9.000: General Personal Injury and Property Damage

    Is there a cap on how much compensation I can receive?

    There is no cap on damages in most personal injury cases. But there is a cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. 

    There is also a cap on punitive damages. 

    Your personal injury lawyer should pursue the full and fair value of what was taken from your health and quality of life.

    What makes RVA Personal Injury Lawyers different?

    Sharif Gray has won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, and he is known for taking cases to trial.

    We are not settlement lawyers. We are committed to trying cases well. Because of that, we do not handle hundreds of cases at a time. We are selective in the cases we take so we can get justice for the people we represent. 

    How much is our Attorney’s Fee?

    Nothing until we win your case.

    We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless you get paid.

    If we resolve your case before filing a lawsuit, we charge a fee of up to 33.33% of the recovery. After a lawsuit is filed, we may charge a fee of up to 40% of the recovery.