Dog Bite Injury – Insurance & Reporting

Dog Bite Liability

In Washington, there is strict liability for dog bites. This means that a dog owner is responsible if their dog bites someone on public or private property where the victim was lawfully allowed to be. So, if someone is visiting your home and your dog bites the visitor, you are deemed liable for that injury. This is the reason so many homeowners and renters have insurance designed to protect the dog owner from significant personal financial risk.

Cost of Dog Bites

Dog bites cases are challenging and costly because they often lead to a layering of injuries. For example, there is urgency to get proper medical care so the wound does not become infected. Most often, people go to the emergency department for this care and those bills are very expensive. 

Additionally, as the bite heals, there can be nerve damage that arises or severe itching from scar formation. This can require visits to several medical specialists. It may also take several months or more than a year to know whether nerves will regenerate or scars will minimize.

Finally, some injuries need follow up physical therapy care so that the victim can function as they did pre-injury. This is very common for bites on the hands. Doctors may wait for nerve damage to improve before beginning PT. In addition, bites on the face or other exposed areas of the body will often require plastic surgery to improve the appearance of scars. Again, this can take months or years to know the severity of the injury.

The amount of money you will receive for your dog bite injury depends on the type of damages you claim and can prove. You need an experienced personal injury attorney to get a good settlement because insurance companies know that unrepresented people do not know the rules and tricks.
Witt Law Group
Ryan Witt
Jennifer Witt


Dog owners in Washington should always carry insurance that covers their dogs. If you are not a homeowner, there are policies for renters. Some policies will restrict the coverage for certain breeds or for dogs that have already bitten someone. It is very important to read the fine print and fully disclose your dog’s history so that you don’t find yourself uninsured when something actually happens.


While Washington takes a strict liability approach to dog bites (negligence is not required), there are some occasions where the dog owner might claim a defense to liability. For example, if the person who was injured was doing something to the dog that might naturally illicit a bite response. So, if a visitor kicks or hits a dog and it bites the abuser, there could be a defense to liability. Additionally, if the bite victim was trespassing at the home when the dog attacked, there would certainly be an argument against liability. 


Dog bite injuries are quite serious and require immediate medical attention. They also require an experienced personal injury lawyer to investigate potential insurance policies that could be involved. Many times, irresponsible dog owners will claim they have no renter’s or homeowner’s insurance and offer some small amount of money toward medical bills so the victim will not pursue legal action. In our firm, we find that the dog owner is usually being dishonest more than half of the time because they don’t want to make a claim to their insurance company or their dog has already bit someone and they are afraid of criminal charges. The moral of the story is that it requires a professional to determine all available insurance policies that may apply.

Reporting Your Attack

If you have been bit by a dog and need to report the incidence, there are different ways to do that depending on the county where you live. We take cases in Kitsap County and Thurston County as well as the cities near those areas so you can find information below regarding the protocol. If the dog owner is not cooperative or is unknown to you, it is very important that you get Animal Control involved immediately. Additionally, if there were any witnesses to the incident, be sure to share those names and phone numbers with the responding officer. The law enforcement report can be critical in getting justice for your injuries! 

Kitsap County including Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Kitsap Naval Bases, Port Orchard, and Poulsbo:

Kitsap Animal Control Officers are tasked with managing reports of dog bites. To report an incident, call to 911 and an officer will be assigned.

Thurston County including including cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater: (online form) OR (download and fill out)

Witt Law Group attorneys are here 7 days a week to help. Do not try to manage your dog bite case without proper counsel. These cases, in particular, can be quite tricky and ripe for legal mistakes that will hurt your chances at a fair settlement. Call today (360) 792-1000

Ryan and Jen Witt of Witt Law Group, Kitsap County defense and personal injury lawyers

Get help now

Whether you choose to handle your case alone or engage the Witt Law Group, being informed and prepared is essential. Early involvement of an attorney can significantly impact your chances of a fair recovery, allowing you to focus on healing while we handle negotiations with insurance adjusters to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

Share this post