Determining Damages in Virginia Dog Bite Cases

In dog bite cases there are a variety of factors that go into determining the amount of damages awarded, or if damages will be awarded at all. Below, a Virginia dog bite lawyer discusses these various factors and the impact of the injured parties own role in the bite or injury. To learn more about dog bite cases or begin filing a claim for your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

How Damages Are Determined in Dog Bite Injury Cases

It depends on the type of case. Typically, if you go to trial, the amount that you recover can be set by a jury, which is based on the evidence. However, if it’s a case with smaller damages, it might be a general district court case in which case a judge would set the amount of damages.

Generally, these are determined using economic damages, such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical Bills
  • Loss of future income
  • Other miscellaneous costs and expenses

On the non-economic side of things, a value is determined for the pain caused by your injuries, the interference to your daily life, interference in your ability to perform your job inability to participate in activities you normally would. These damages are typically much less quantifiable.

Contributory Negligence in Dog Bite Cases

Contributory negligence is a doctrine that most states have gotten rid of, but it still remains the law in Virginia, as well as Maryland and the District of Columbia. It provides an affirmative defense for a defendant to say that the plaintiff contributed to their own injury by some sort of negligent or careless action on their own part.  It operates as a complete bar to recovery but is not the end of the inquiry. The defendant must plead and prove contributory negligence.

For example, if a pedestrian is jaywalking when they get struck by a vehicle, there may be an affirmative defense of contributory negligence for the driver.

The basic idea is that in Virginia, if a defendant alleges contributory negligence and the plaintiff is found in any way responsible for their own injury, even one percent responsible, contributory negligence bars recovery.

How Does This Apply To Dog Bite Cases?

For a dog bite case, an easy example is if somebody is teasing a dog or egging that dog on, and the dog then responds by biting them. That’s a situation where the plaintiff or the injured victim can potentially be blamed for what happened.  In this case even though the person was likely hurt by the dog, contributory negligence states that because their own actions are what led to the injury they are not liable to receive damages.