Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Washington State

Posted Friday, March 4, 2016 by Chris Thayer

If you have been attacked and bitten by someone else’s dog, chances are that you incurred medical bills and other expenses. You may have missed work due to your injury, which means lost wages too. There’s also your pain and suffering to consider. To be compensated for these losses, you must file a lawsuit against whoever owns the dog. Is there still time to do so? By understanding Seattle dog bite law, including the statute of limitations, your case is more likely to have a positive outcome.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

First, many people are unclear about what a statute of limitations is. Put simply, it refers to the length of time during which you may bring a case to court. The clock starts ticking as soon as the incident occurs. If the statute of limitations for a particular charge is one year, then, you must file a lawsuit or press charges before the one-year anniversary of the incident has passed. Fortunately, you have a little longer than that to file a lawsuit for injuries that occurred due to a dog bite.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Washington State

Dog bites and other animal-related injuries fall under the personal injury category in the state of Washington. Therefore, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit because of a dog bite is the same as it is for any other type of personal injury case. By referring to the Revised Code of Washington section 4.16.080, you will see that “An action for injury to the person or rights of another…shall be commenced within three years.” In other words, all personal injury lawsuits in the state of Washington must be filed within three years. Once that period of time has passed, you are out of luck.

Don’t Run Out the Clock

It’s understandable to need to wait a little while before filing a lawsuit for compensation for your dog bite injury. After all, getting medical care is the first order of business. Like most people, you probably have lots of other things going on, so you may not be able to get to work on it right away. However, the sooner you file a suit, the better. At your earliest convenience, retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you. The sooner they go to work for you, the likelier you are to have a good outcome. Facts will still be fresh in people’s minds, for instance, and it will be easier for your lawyer to obtain the evidence that he or she needs when the incident occurred relatively recently.

In addition to having a fairly generous statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, Washington makes things a little easier on victims of dog bites by not requiring them to prove that the owner of the dog did anything wrong–at least, that’s the case if you were bitten and were either in a public place or if you had permission to be on private property at the time that the incident occurred. This is all outlined in the Revised Code of Washington section 16.08.040.

What if the Statute of Limitations Expires?

If more than three years have passed since you were bitten by a dog, you most likely have no options in regards to filing a lawsuit. If you try, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case outright. There are a few exceptions, however, and a skilled attorney can check to see if any of them apply to your situation. In rare instances, the statute of limitations clock can be “tolled,” or paused. Please note that it is exceedingly rare for exceptions to be made and that if the time limit has passed, you probably have no recourse for seeking compensation for your injuries. Again, this is why it is so important to act quickly when seeking compensation in personal injury cases.

Hire an Experienced Seattle Dog Bite Law Attorney Today

No one should have to worry about being attacked and bitten by a dog. When incidents like these occur, dog owners must be held responsible. For help with your dog bite case, contact Chris Thayer by calling (866) 884-2417 today.