In Washington State, victims of dog bites have specific legal avenues to seek compensation for their injuries. Understanding the complexities of state laws governing dog bite incidents is crucial for both victims and pet owners. This article, drawing upon the expertise of Lehmbecker Law, explores the rights of individuals injured by dog bites and outlines the responsibilities of pet owners under Washington law. A deeper understanding of Washington dog bite laws can guide victims through the process of seeking justice and compensation.

Washington’s Dog Bite Statute

Washington is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means that the dog owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their dog biting another person, regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior. Specifically, RCW 16.08.040 outlines that the owner of any dog that bites any person while in a public place or lawfully in a private place is liable for the damages suffered by the bite victim, irrespective of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

Seeking Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

Victims of dog bites in Washington can pursue compensation for various damages, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs associated with treating the dog bite, including emergency room visits, medication, and any necessary surgery or rehabilitation.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for time off work due to the injury.
  • Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the dog bite.

The Role of Legal Representation

Navigating a dog bite claim can be complex, involving negotiations with insurance companies, gathering of evidence, and possibly litigation. Here, the role of a skilled attorney becomes invaluable. Lehmbecker Law, familiar with the nuances of Washington dog bite laws, can provide victims with the necessary legal support to navigate these challenges, ensuring that they receive the full compensation they are entitled to.

Responsibilities of Pet Owners

Under Washington law, pet owners have a duty to ensure their pets do not cause harm to others. This includes securing dogs in their property, adhering to local leash laws, and taking reasonable steps to prevent bites. Failure to meet these responsibilities can result in legal and financial consequences for the dog owner.

Preventive Measures and Reporting

Preventing dog bites involves responsible pet ownership and public awareness. Individuals should report unprovoked dog bites to local health departments or animal control agencies, which can investigate and take appropriate action to prevent further incidents.


Dog bite incidents in Washington are taken seriously, with laws in place to protect victims and hold pet owners accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, understanding your legal rights is the first step toward recovery. With the support of experienced legal professionals like those at Lehmbecker Law, navigating the legal process can be less daunting, ensuring victims can focus on healing while pursuing the compensation they deserve.