The People’s Lawyer

What charges can you file after getting a dog bite?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Firm News

Let’s face it: even the most well-behaved dogs can have a difficult day. Sometimes, that could mean a bite, leaving you with a sore wound and a legal headache. Unlike other states, dog bite laws differ for West Virginia residents, especially about where the dog was when it bit you.

Leashed vs unleashed: What’s the difference?

If an unleashed dog is roaming in a public place, the owner is automatically liable for your medical bills and other damages. This is called strict liability. Think of it as a “no excuses” rule.

If the dog is leashed or within the owner’s property, you need to prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous or acted carelessly for the owner to be held responsible. This could mean showing they knew the dog bit someone before, or they had left the gate open, allowing the dog to escape and bite you.

Below is the lowdown on the charges you might file. These are general overviews and may still be on a case-to-case basis:

  • Civil Charges: This is the most common scenario for most dog bite victims. Those whose dogs bite can press charges to recover medical costs, lost wages if they cannot work due to the bite, emotional distress caused by the incident, and other losses caused by the bite.
  • Criminal Charges: Criminal charges are less standard for dog bites but are possible in extreme situations. If the owner intentionally set the dog on the victim or animal control has a history of warnings or citations about the dog’s behavior, the authorities may consider criminal charges. These could involve penalties for the owner and potentially require the dog to be impounded by the state.

Remember that every situation is unique. If a dog bites you, a lawyer may be able to help you understand your options better and fight for your right to fair compensation. Dog bites can be scary, but knowing your rights can empower you to heal correctly and potentially hold the responsible party accountable.