Compensation in Virginia Dog Bite Injury Cases

The following is information on damages in dog bite injury cases and what is taken into account. If you have been injured by a dog bite, consult with a Virginia dog bite injury lawyer today to discuss your case and begin filing your claim.

When Someone May Be Entitled To Compensation For a Dog Bite

There are a variety of different circumstances where someone may be entitled to file a claim and receive damages for a dog bite injury. The most important type is that of a notice or violation of Leash law, which is where an owner has notice of a dog’s dangerous propensity or the local municipal or county ordinance requires dogs to be on a leash in public places. In each of these cases a dog owner may be liable if someone is bitten.

If a dog has been reported previously for attacking individuals or dogs, or if that dog has been involved in dangerous activities like dog fighting, or if anything has been documented that can show that the owner knew or should have known that that dog has vicious or dangerous propensities, those are the circumstances in which good cases can be put together.

On the other hand, if a dog has never done anything bad in the past, and is not known to be dangerous but takes a bite out of someone, the case becomes exponentially harder to prove.

How Compensation is Determined in Dog Bite Cases

In dog bite cases, just like other injury cases in Virginia, there are going to be two different types of damages awarded: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are medical bills, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity or things that are generally quantifiable. You are going to need expert testimony to show what your loss of earning capacity or loss of future earnings would be, you may need vocational rehabilitation experts to testify as to what type of work you are able to do now with the injuries as opposed to what you previously were able to do. Between a vocational rehab expert and an economist, you can usually come up with a pretty accurate projection of what your future earnings would be.

Additionally, lost wages are pretty simple. You show what you were making at the time of your injury, how much time you had to miss at work because of it, and that is the amount of money that you have on lost wages. It is not quite that simple but pretty close.

For medical bills, usually you will need testimony to say that the medical bills were reasonable and that the treatment was necessary and related to the accident, but those are basically the economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages in VA Dog Bite Cases

Non-economic damages are a little bit hard to quantify as it is what people often call pain and suffering, it includes impairment of your daily activities, of daily living, time away from your customary leisure activities, and each of these can mean all sorts of things. If you have trouble tying your shoes everyday and it is painful to do that, if you can’t button your shirt, wash dishes, clean the house, mow the lawn, whatever it is, if your daily activities have been impacted by your injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, you should be compensated for that.

Likewise for your recreational activities. If you have been injured and broken your leg, and you are not able to go to the gym for 2 months and you went to the gym 3 times a week before you got hurt, the time that you are not able to engage in your recreational activities can also be compensated. Those are a little harder to quantify but you can still cover for those under Virginia Law.

Punitive Damages

The last kind of damages are called punitive damages. These generally are not awarded but are the ‘send a message’ type of damages for if the defendant’s behavior is so outrageous that it would shock the conscience of a juror. If it is wanton or willful or shows a reckless disregard for the well being of others, there may be damages allowed to sort of send the message to the defendants that the community will not stand for that sort of behavior.

Unfortunately, in Virginia, punitive damages are capped, and that is capped by law, which is set at $350,000. So almost all punitive damages are going to be limited to $350,000, but that still sends a pretty big message to the defendant that they have to get their act together.