...accidents shouldn't hurt twice...handling car accidents,

motorcycle accidents,truck accidents, slip and fall accidents and dog bite cases

Serving Martinsburg, Eastern Panhandle of WV, MD, and VA

Dog bite injury lawyer

Fifi, my constant companion

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, above is my constant companion.

 I love dogs! I don't know many people who don't love dogs. While my buddy, above, is of the smaller variety, I love dogs of all sizes, and breeds. That having been said, there is no denying that dog bites are an ever increasing problem in America. Each day in America, approximately 1000 people are seen in emergency rooms for injuries related to dog bites; that's more than 350,000 emergency room visits a year. A study published in 2010, demonstrated that the number of Americans hospitalized for dog bite injuries had almost doubled in the 15 years preceding the study. Rural emergency rooms were hit particularly hard, having an almost 4 time greater incidence of dog bite cases than urban health care centers. The average cost for a dog bite related hospital treatment is $18,200.00. Despite the more than 350,000 hospital visits per year that are due to dog bites, only 15,000 to 16,000 receive any type of compensation from homeowner's insurance companies or renters insurance companies. For those 15,000 to 16,000 people who receive compensation for the damages done by dog bites, the recovery is, on average, $29,752.00. This recovery figure has increased by over 55.3% in the past decade. In 2012 more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery due to dog bite injuries. From 1993 to 2008 there has been a 86% increase in hospitalizations due to dog bite injuries. From the early 1980s to 2012, there has been a 82% increase in fatal dog bites. Dog bite victims in the United States suffer over $1,000,000,000 (One billion) in monetary losses every year: including money spent for health care, time lost from work, rehabilitation, and surgery. Dog bites account for more than 1/3 of all homeowner insurance liability claims. 

Dog bite laws in W.Va., VA, and MD

West Virginia

      Any dog owner who permits a dog to run at large (without any control) is liable for any damage that the dog inflicts. If the dog is running at large at the time of the injury, the owner's negligence need not be proven in order to recover damages. If a dog injures a person, but is not running at large, then the liability for damages depends upon a showing of negligence on the dog owner's part. Negligence depends on being able to show, given the dog's past behavior, that the owner could reasonably foresee the injury occurring and not acting reasonably to prevent it. Dogs considered to be vicious can only be kept with a special license from the county. The owner of a vicious dog must secure the dog in such a way that it cannot injury people lawfully on the owner's property. As with other negligence actions in West Virginia, dog bite cases are generally governed by a 2 year statute of limitations.


       Virginia does not have a dog running at large statute. Instead Virginia relies upon common law, which holds that if the victim of a dog inflicted injury can demonstrate that the owner was negligent in failing to control the dog, and that negligence caused the injuries, then the victim can recover damages from the dog owner. In Virginia, the governing body of any town, city, or county can enact a dangerous dog/vicious dog ordinance. A dangerous dog is one that has injured a human or companion animal (not including another dog) in the past. A vicious dog is one that has killed, or seriously maimed a human, or companion animal in the past. If an owner is to have a dangerous or vicious dog, they must post their property clearly, obtain a special registration and tag from the animal control officer, and must control the dog at all times. Finally, the owner of a dangerous or vicious dog must maintain at least $100,000.00 liability insurance to cover damage that the dog might do. Virginia dog bite cases are also generally controlled by a 2 year statute of limitations.


       Like Virginia, Maryland does not have a dog running at large statute. In Maryland, a dog owner is liable for injuries caused by the dog if the dog owner can be shown to have failed to act reasonably in controlling, or preventing the dog from doing damage. The owner's knowledge of the dog's propensities is relevant to determining if the owner exercised reasonable control over the dog. Maryland also makes a distinction between potentially dangerous and dangerous dogs. Maryland is generally controlled by a 3 year statute of limitations. 

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How to avoid being a victim.

   How do you avoid being bitten by a dog? Start by being polite, and respecting the dog's space. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one that is tied up, or behind a fence or in a car. Don't pet a dog until they've had a chance to see and sniff at you. Don't disturb a dog while its sleeping, eating or chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs, and always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or a threat. If you see any of the following body postures in a dog, put a safe amount of space between you and the dog:

    tensed body, stiff tail, pinned back ears, furrowed brow,

    eyes rolling so the whites are visible, yawning,

    flicking tongue, intense stare, backing away

While putting space between you and the dog who might bite you, never turn your back on him and run. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase you down.

       If you are approached by a dog who you think may attack you, follow these steps:

resist the impulse to scream and or run away

remain motionless, hands at your side, and avoid eye contact

with the dog

once the dog appears to lose interest in you, slowly back

away until the dog is out of sight

if the dog does attack, "feed" the dog your jacket, purse,

bicycle, or anything you can put between yourself and the


if you fall, or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with

your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not

to scream or roll around.

     If you are bitten, try not to panic. Immediately wash the wound with soap and warm water. Contact a health care provider and seek additional care and advice. Report the bite to an animal control officer, and tell the officer everything you know about the dog, including the owner's name, and the address where the owner lives. If the dog appears to be a stray, tell the animal control officer what the dog looked like, where you saw the dog, whether you've seen the dog before, and in which direction the dog was going when you last saw him.

Hurt by another animal?

Bull in the field can spell trouble

Yeah, he doesn't look like much now, but bulls, particularly dairy bulls, make up for more fatal injuries than almost any other domestic animals. Owners of such domestic stock animals can be held liable if they are permitted to run at large in West Virginia, or if they are not reasonably controlled and injure a person who is lawfully on, or passing over the owner's land. Additionally, in 2014, West Virginia enacted Code section 19-34-1, which makes it illegal to own or possess bears, big cats, canids, primates, constrictor snakes greater than 6' in length, venomous snakes, alligators and caiman. Because this act was enacted, in part, for the protection of humans, if your neighbor's 7' Ball Python decides to get lovey with your ankle, and deforms it beyond all recognition, you will have a cause of action against your neighbor, who, if he is keeping the snake per the statute, must have $300,000.00 in liability insurance.