YOU CAN’T, YOU WON’T AND YOU DON’T STOP (BITING)—DOG BITES AND THE POWER OF PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

by Mike Myers on June 5, 2015

There is a pretty powerful dog bite statute in Washington.  It applies not only to you and me but also cities, counties and the state.  For instance, the City of Kennewick has been held strictly liable under Washington’s dog bite statute.  (The statute is  RCW 16.08.040.)

Even thought the dog bite statute makes the owner of the dog strictly liable the dog’s history is going to make a difference in terms of how much the case is worth.  The best way to find out a dog’s history (when it’s owned by a municipality) is to do a public records request.  Before you even make a claim you can find out the training the dog has received, whether it’s ever been pulled out of service and whether it’s ever bitten anyone before.

There’s a recent case in the news that shows how important this kind of information can be:

A man from Lakewood, Washington has filed a lawsuit after being attacked by a police dog. The K-9 has since been taken off the town’s police force. According to the lawsuit, the dog attacked the plaintiff while he and his police handler were searching for a suspect in the woods. The plaintiff alleges that the dog attacked him and would not stop, even after the plaintiff put his hands up. The lawsuit contends that the attack left the plaintiff with a permanently injured leg. Last year, Pierce County paid $225,000 to settle another attack lawsuit involving the dog.
Staff Report, KIRO TV 05/29/2015
Read Article: KIRO TV

How does the fact that the dog did this to someone else affect the way you view the case?  I think it would probably have the same affect on a jury and would dramatically increase the amount it would award.

There are all sorts of procedural hoops to jump through when pursuing a claim against a city, county or state.  It’s important to work with an attorney to help navigate the process.

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