It’s estimated that 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats are owned in the United States. In fact, approximately 44% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 35% have a cat. (Source: American Pet Products Association 2015-2016 (APPA)).

If you have been injured by an animal in Washington State, you may have two separate causes of action.

Strict Liability

RCW § 16.08.040 provides strict liability for the owner(s) of a dog that bites a person while that person is in public or lawfully in a private place – including the property of the owner.

What does this mean? It means that the owner(s) is liable to the person bitten. It doesn’t matter if the dog had never bitten anyone before. Regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of the viciousness, they are still liable for what happens.

Negligence Liability

Negligence liability may extend to people or entities that were not directly involved in the incident at issue — a concept called vicarious liability. Vicarious negligence liability is often claimed to make certain that an injured person can recover his or her damages from a financially secure and adequately insured party.


If you find yourself in a dicey situation with an animal, follow these steps as they should work:

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If you’ve suffered an injury at the expense of an animal owner, call us at 253-693-2244 to find out why we are #intentionallydifferent!