Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer, Injury Law

Virginia dog bite lawyerDog bite victims often sustain serious physical injuries, scars, and emotional trauma.

Richard Serpe has 34+ years of experience helping victims of personal injuries. We have helped numerous dog bite victims to get the compensation they deserve. Our clients include children, adults, mail carriers, delivery drivers, joggers, pedestrians, and others. Contact Richard Serpe if you’ve been attacked by someone else’s dog.


Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer FAQs

  1. What are my legal rights after an attack?
  2. Do I need to hire a lawyer?
  3. How much is my case worth?
  4. Do you handle child dog bite cases?
  5. Do you help USPS and delivery drivers?
  6. What about Virginia’s “one bite” rule?
  7. What are the deadlines for a claim?
  8. How much does a dog bite lawyer charge?

What are my legal rights after a Virginia dog bite or attack?

If you’ve been attacked by a dog, you’re likely feeling shocked and overwhelmed. It’s important for dog bite victims to know their rights. When an animal attacks, the owner of the dog is liable for the damage done. Sometimes a person who is caring for the animal at the time of the attack can be held liable if they knew the dog could be vicious. Victims bitten by dogs have the right to compensation.

Typical damages that Virginia dog bite victims can receive compensation for include: pain and suffering, loss of earnings while unable to work, future loss of earnings if you cannot return to work, disfigurement – if the injury causes scarring or other unsightly marks, plastic surgery, and other medical expenses.

What should I do after a dog attack?

  1. Seek medical attention. If you’ve been seriously injured, you should contact 911 immediately. Even if your wounds seem small, when bitten by any type of animal you run the risk of contracting rabies or a serious infection and you should consider seeing a medical professional. Having your injuries documented by a medical professional is important evidence for your case.
  2. Report the incident to local animal control, or emergency authorities. It is VERY important to have the incident officially documented and for information to be gathered concerning the dog owner.
  3. Take photos of your injuries. Make sure to take photos of your injuries as soon as you can, as well as pictures of the healing process. This may become important evidence to your case.
  4. Gather information. Make sure that animal control or the police know of anyone that may have witnessed the attack. Have other neighbors had problems with the same dog?
  5. Contact an Experienced Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer. Our law firm has successfully recovered compensation for victims and their families across the state of Virginia. Contact us to discuss your legal rights.

Do I need to hire a dog bite lawyer?

You are not required to hire a dog bite lawyer after an attack. However, you need to be careful not to sign away your legal rights with the insurance company for a small settlement.  If you agree to a dog bite personal injury settlement and sign the release papers, you cannot come back for more money later. An experienced Virginia dog bite attorney will ensure all of your medical bills are included in the settlement, as well as any permanent long-term care that you will need.

When to Hire A Dog Bite Lawyer

Here are a few situations that may benefit from a Virginia dog bite lawyer:

  • You’ve Never Filed A Claim or Lawsuit: Insurance companies know that most people are inexperienced with the claims process and will take any chance they get to deny or minimize a claim.
  • Life-Altering Injuries: If you are permanently disabled after a dog attack, it is possible that you will face a lifelong battle of challenges. Especially if your injuries will affect your ability to work and earn a living. An experienced Virginia dog bite lawyer can help the insurance companies, and a jury, understand just how much your injury will affect your life.
  • Severe Injuries: Even if your injuries are not permanent, when severe, you are likely to have expensive medical bills and lost income. Insurance companies will likely offer you an unfair low-ball settlement offer. An experienced attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
  • Liability is Uncertain: It isn’t always clear who should be held liable for the attack. If there are numerous injuries, there may be less settlement money to go around. Sometimes it isn’t clear whether the dog owner has any insurance at all. An experienced Virginia dog bite lawyer will make sure all avenues of compensation are explored.
  • Wrongful death of a loved one: Virginia allows certain family members to make a claim for losses they have suffered as a result of negligence. It’s important to consult an attorney familiar with Virginia wrongful death cases.

How much is my dog bite case worth?

Claims made by a dog attack victim are almost always paid by the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company. Without a dog bite lawyer, insurance companies will try and offer you the lowest settlement possible.

Homeowner’s insurers paid out $797 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2019, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®. The average pay-out for a dog-related injury claim nationwide was $44,760.

Types of Compensation

Typical damages for which dog bite victims can receive compensation include:

  • Pain and suffering: This is the right to compensation for physical pain and suffering and mental anguish you have suffered and could endure in the future.
  • Loss of Earnings: You are entitled to recover for the loss of earnings which you suffered from your injuries.  This includes wages, commissions, bonuses, and all other earnings and fringe benefits. If you are not able to work because you are recovering from your injuries, the loss of income will be made up.
  • Disfigurement: If the injury causes scarring or other unsightly marks, the victim is entitled to recovery for the disfigurement.
  • Children are frequently bitten in the facial region and require plastic surgery. Depending on the age of the child at the time of the attack, many surgeons will not perform surgical revisions until the child reaches early adulthood.  This means that children will go through the embarrassment and humiliation of the scar through adolescence.
  • Medical Expenses: These include the cost of basic medical treatment, going to the emergency room, and any sort of surgical treatment or care needed to repair the damaged area of the body.
  • A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Do you help children attacked by dogs?

A: Yes. Many of our dog bite clients are, sadly, children. Kids love animals, but animals don’t always love kids. When dogs feel threatened, afraid or angry, they can lash out at even the tiniest of children.

Child Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries range from minor to deadly. Lacerations and punctures are common among child dog bite victims, as are sprains, fractures, and tissue loss. Many times, scarring on the face and neck leave a permanent reminder of the attack. Some victims require surgery to repair the damage done and plastic surgery down the line to fix the cosmetic damage.

dog bite lawyer client testimonialDog Bite Client Testimonial

My 7-year-old daughter was outside playing with friends in front of our home when she was viciously attacked by our neighbor’s Rottweiler. The Rottweiler dug a hole under the fence, escaped, and ran straight towards the children.

The dog ended up attacking my daughter by the calf, pulling her to the ground and dragging her several feet before letting go. When she arrived at the hospital, she was treated for two large lacerations and numerous small bites and puncture wounds before being transferred to CHKD where she had to have surgery.

My lawyer, Richard Serpe, and his staff did a thorough investigation into the dog owner, and were able to secure a settlement for my daughter. The settlement allowed us to pay her medical bills, as well as set aside funds for her future education.


Compensation for Postal Workers & Delivery Drivers

To perform their duties, these workers must enter the territory of countless dogs each day. Many dogs believe they are protecting their home and owners when attacking. Groups of dogs and dogs behind invisible fences are often to blame for more serious attacks. Workers filling in for colleagues or walking through a new route are the most susceptible to dog bites.

While some choose to carry treats to distract dogs on their route, others choose to bring pepper spray along, just in case. Even with these strategies in place, dog bites can still happen.

  • Workers’ Compensation Claims – In many cases, the worker’s employer may extend workers’ compensation benefits to injured employees. This can cover lost wages and medical expenses related to the attack.
  • Claims Against the Dog Owner – If you pursue a claim against the dog owner and win, they will be responsible for repaying any workers compensation benefits that were paid out. In addition, you can attempt to recover for things such as pain and suffering, plastic surgery for unsightly scars, a wrongful death, and other types of damages.

We have helped many mail carriers and delivery drivers injured in Virginia dog attacks. Contact us for a free consultation.


Virginia’s “One Bite” Rule

This rule aims to hold pet owners legally responsible for the violent actions of their dogs. If a dog owner knows that their pet has bitten at least one time in the past, they can be held liable for the damages caused in subsequent attacks.

In other words, if Fido got into trouble for biting a neighbor last year, his owner must take necessary precautions to prevent additional attacks from occurring. Should Fido bite again, his owner will likely be held responsible for the victim’s medical bills. This is because the owner knew of the dog’s violent tendencies but did not take action to prevent additional attacks.

Negligence Per Se

Even if a dog doesn’t have a violent past, negligent owners can still be held responsible for the damages their dogs cause. Victims may sue for compensation so long as they have evidence that the owner failed to control their pet.

For instance, if you’re at the park and are attacked by a dog whose owner has let it roam off the leash, you may have a viable claim. The decision to allow the dog off the leash in a place with strict leash requirements demonstrates the owner’s negligence.


Deadlines for Virginia Dog Bite Claims

In Virginia, there are strict deadlines for filing a lawsuit. In many cases, Virginia provides a two-year deadline also known as a Statute of Limitations. However, sometimes special circumstances apply and can alter that deadline.  It is important to contact an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.


How much does a dog bite lawyer charge?

Insurance companies have tremendous resources. Our law firm understands that the costs associated with a lawsuit can be a barrier to justice. This is why we offer a no-fee promise. This means you don’t owe us any legal fees unless we settle or win your case. If our Virginia dog bite lawyers accept your case, we will work on your behalf to get a fair settlement. We will only charge legal fees if you receive a settlement or verdict.


Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer Richard Serpe

dog bite lawyer Richard Serpe

  • Named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers for Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Norfolk, VA (2020)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America ® (2005 – Present)
  • Named a “Super Lawyer” – among the top 5 percent of lawyers in Virginia (2006 – Present)
  • Listed as a Top 100 Virginia Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers 2014
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What is Virginia's "One-Bite" rule?

This rule aims to hold pet owners legally responsible for the violent actions of their dogs. If a dog owner knows that their pet has bitten at least one time in the past, they can be held liable for the damages caused in subsequent attacks. This is because the owner knew of the dog’s violent tendencies but did not take action to prevent additional attacks.

Negligence Per Se

Even if a dog doesn’t have a violent past, negligent owners can still be held responsible for the damages their dogs cause. Victims may sue for compensation so long as they have evidence that the owner failed to control their pet.

What is the average dog bite settlement?

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) states that in 2019 the average pay out for a dog bite claim nationwide was $44,760. Further, homeowners insurance paid out $797 million in claims related to dog bites and attacks.

*Please understand that every case is different and a dog bite lawyer cannot evaluate your case without all of the facts.

Can I sue the dog owner and the apartment complex?

Q: I was attacked by a dog in my apartment community. What are my legal options? Can I sue the dog owner and the apartment complex?

You may be able to take action against the owner if they have renter’s insurance. In order to establish liability on the part of a land owner (the complex) you would have to prove that they knew of the dog’s dangerous nature and prior attacks.

What is the definition of a 'dangerous dog' in Virginia?

Q: What is the definition of a ‘dangerous dog’ in Virginia?

Virginia state law provides a definition of a “dangerous dog.”

“Dangerous dog” means a canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal that is a dog or cat, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat. When a dog attacks or bites a companion animal that is a dog or cat, the attacking or biting dog shall not be deemed dangerous

(i) if no serious physical injury as determined by a licensed veterinarian has occurred to the dog or cat as a result of the attack or bite;

(ii) if both animals are owned by the same person;

(iii) if such attack occurs on the property of the attacking or biting dog’s owner or custodian; or

(iv) for other good cause as determined by the court…. No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited.

VA Code Ann. § 3.2-6540

Once determined to be a dangerous dog, the owner has strict requirements to maintain liability insurance and faces liability for any subsequent injury to a person attacked by that dog (with few narrow exceptions such as criminals entering the dogs home.)

Virginia Dog Bite Lawyer Settlements
$130
THOUSAND
5-year-old attacked and bitten on face, lip, and mouth by neighbor's dog.
Arlington, Virginia
$110
THOUSAND
Client sustained serious facial injuries after being attacked by dog.
Chesapeake, Virginia
$100
THOUSAND
Postal worker sustained a serious knee injury after being attacked by a German Shepherd while at work.
Norfolk, Virginia
$100
THOUSAND
FedEx delivery driver sustained major injuries to arm after being bitten while working.
Wythe County, Virginia
$100
THOUSAND
7-year-old viciously attacked by neighbor's dog that escaped.
Winchester, Virginia
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Kelli S., Portsmouth, VA
He listened carefully to our concerns and gave us honest legal advice
My husband and I worked with Richard for the past year and had a wonderful experience. At our first meeting, he did not push us to sign anything or make
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Shaniqua J., Winchester, VA
Richard Serpe, and his staff did a thorough investigation into the dog owner
My 7-year-old daughter was outside playing with friends in front of our home when she was viciously attacked by our neighbor’s Rottweiler. The Rottweiler dug a hole under the fence,
- Shaniqua J., Winchester, VA
Angela Woodson, Richmond, VA
Richard Serpe was able to get an excellent recovery for my daughter
When my daughter suffered an injury from lead poisoning, I did not know where to turn. There did not seem to be many lawyers who could help. The landlord responsible
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This firm has been beside us through the whole process from when we first found out that our home had been built with Chinese drywall until justice was served. They
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Richard Serpe handled the case for my daughter for injuries she received over 10 years ago. The people who work for him were always great to work with! They responded
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