...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

M. Santa Barbara law

The right lawyer, the right results...
accidents shouldn't hurt twice


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.