West Virginia’s dog bite laws differ from the majority of U.S. states. Here, strict liability for dog bites is limited to instances where the dog was allowed to run free in a public place. In other cases, the negligence rule applies, which can make it more difficult for victims to pursue compensation.
Strict Liability Vs. Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
In most states, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets biting someone. This applies irrespective of the owner’s knowledge or preventive actions. However, in West Virginia, strict liability is only applied when the dog’s owner has allowed the animal to roam free in public areas.
In contrast, the negligence rule is applied when a dog causes injury or death on the owner’s property. Under this rule, the owner may not be held strictly liable unless it can be proved that they were aware or should have been aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior. This can be proven if the dog has bitten someone before or shown aggressive behavior like growling or baring its teeth.
Navigating Liability Claims
Liability claims in West Virginia can be complex. For instance, if a third party allows a dog to roam free, the owner might have a defense but can still be held liable if it can be proved that they were aware of the dog’s vicious nature. Additionally, victims may claim negligence by an owner, such as failure to comply with local leash laws.
It’s important to note that West Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a dog bite injury. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been harmed in a dog attack, it’s crucial to seek legal help promptly to understand which liability laws apply to your case.
How Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC Can Help
At Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC, we specialize in handling dog bite injury cases across West Virginia. Our dog bite lawyers can guide you through the state’s complex dog bite laws, gather evidence, and prepare witness testimonies. Our goal is to ensure you get the best possible outcome for your case, which may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages such as pain and suffering.
If you’ve been involved in a dog bite case in West Virginia, contact us for a free consultation. You can reach our Bridgeport office at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.