Dog bites and attacks can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. Even less serious bite can cause extreme pain and emotional suffering.
West Virginia understands this, and how much West Virginians love their dogs. So, the state has laws giving responsibilities to dog owners and to anyone filing a lawsuit because of a dog bite.
You do not have forever to file a lawsuit
It often takes a long time to understand how bad an injury really is and how much it will cost to treat. Stitches, antibiotics, surgery and pain medication take time and are not free.
You cannot wait to see how the story ends before deciding on legal action. It is important to decide whether to take the dog owner to court as soon as possible.
In West Virginia, courts almost always refuse to accept a lawsuit for a dog bite injury if the bite happened over two years ago, to the day.
When are humans to blame when dogs bite?
In many situations, laws do not blame people for causing harm unless they should have expected it to happen. But in West Virginia, a dog owner is usually responsible, at least if they allowed the dog to wander freely and then the dog bit you while wandering.
For dog owners who do not keep their dog inside a fence or on a leash, the state usually applies the rule of strict liability for biting away from the owner’s land. Being strictly liable means that not much else is likely to matter, such as whether the owner knew the dog was “a biter.” Let your dog wander off and bite people, and you are probably “on the hook” for a bite.
Otherwise, the case against the owner is harder to prove. You may need to show the owner was negligent, meaning that they failed to take a reasonable amount of care to protect people.
For example, if someone else lets the dog out, you may need to prove the owner had a good reason to lock the dog away so securely that letting it out was not an option. Or if the dog bit you while you were visiting the owner’s property, perhaps the owner should have known it was important to keep you separated.