In Washington State, dogs, with limited exceptions, are strictly liable for any injuries or deaths they cause. Dog bites can cause infections, puncture wounds, rashes, scarring, and facial disfigurement. Young children are especially likely to be bitten because they don’t appreciate how dangerous a dog can be. Postal workers and anyone who is surprised by a dog are likely to be bitten too.
There is no requirement to show that a dog had a propensity to bite. There is no need to prove fault. A dog owner is liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. If a loved one dies due to a dog bite, the family can file a wrongful death and survival action against the dog owners.
Generally, in Washington, a dog bite victim, the parents of a child who is bitten, or the family of someone who dies due to a dog bite can file a claim against the owner of the dog. There are, however, exceptions for police dogs.
What are the Washington laws on dog bites?
Washington’s dog bite law provides:
(1) The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
(2) This section does not apply to the lawful application of a police dog, as defined in RCW 4.24.410.
The care and liability of the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler themselves and restaurants have no obligation to the respective animal. If the service animal barks, growls or poses a direct threat to your customers or staff you may ask for the service animal to be removed. However, this cannot be based on prior experience or your own personal assumptions of animal behavior.