Dog Bites Attorney in Anchorage, Alaska
If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog attack, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Dog bites result in more than 100,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. every year, and more than 10,000 hospitalizations. More than 80% of them are children ages 9 and younger. A dog bite incident can leave anyone with not only physical scars but with trauma that could last a lifetime.
Have you been bitten or attacked by a dog owned by someone else in Anchorage, Bethel, Barrow (Utqiagvik), or Kotzebue, Alaska? You may be able to recover compensation for medical bills and other damages. At the Law Office of Jason Skala, LLC, we are dedicated to taking on personal injury claims resulting from dog bite incidents. Set up a consultation with our office today.
Does Alaska Have a Dog Bite Law?
States operate under one of two legal theories regarding dog owner negligence in dog bite cases. Some states observe “strict liability,” which means a negligent owner can be held liable regardless of whether the animal is of a certain breed or whether the owner had any knowledge of its propensity to bite.
Alaska dog bite law observes the “one-bite rule.” This essentially means the dog has one “free” bite before the owner is held liable for the damages it may cause. Once the dog is known to have a propensity to bite, the owner should take steps to protect others from the animal because they “knew or should have known” the animal to be dangerous.
In Anchorage specifically, the municipal code specifies that all animal bites must be reported to Animal Care and Control. This reporting responsibility should help ensure that dogs get only one bite before the owner can be held liable.
Claims against dog owners and other negligent parties in Alaska are pursued as premises liability claims. These claims also include slips and falls and other injuries someone sustains as the result of hazardous conditions on someone else’s property.
Is Trespassing a Defense?
Defendants may use trespassing as a defense in premises liability claims. However, there are gray areas in determining whether someone was trespassing or not. If the invitation to enter the property was implied, and there were no warning signs posted about trespassing or to beware of a dog, the owner could still be held liable. For example, the invitation for a postal carrier is implied. The same may be true for someone who goes to a house to sell something or ask for directions.
The owner may also be held liable when the victim is a child, either because the child was not able to read any posted warnings or because the owner failed to protect children from things on their property that would attract children, such as a pet, a slide or swing, or an open gate.
Of course, owners may not be held liable in cases where the victim provoked the dog, or if the dog bit the victim in its trained role in law enforcement.
How Is Liability Established
in Alaska Dog Bite Claims?
To prove liability in a dog bite claim, as in any premises liability claim in Alaska, there must be evidence that the owner failed to secure the dog to protect others, that the dog attacked the victim because of the owner’s failure, and that the victim was injured by the dog and as a result, sustained personal injury and other damages.
You should know that the owner of the dog is not the only party that may bear liability. If the property owner is someone other than the dog owner and that property owner failed to ensure that the premises were safe from potential hazards, they might be held liable as well. This is important when it comes to seeking compensation from liability insurance coverage. Property owners often have liability insurance policies to protect them should someone be injured on their property. A dog owner who is a renter may not have any liability coverage to pursue. An experienced dog bite attorney will know where to look for coverage for a claim or judgment.
Alaska observes comparative negligence in liability claims. That means that more than one party can be assigned blame for a dog attack. If the victim is held partially at fault, any compensation for the dog bite would be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault.
For example, suppose you visit a friend who has posted “Beware of Dog” signs. You have petted the dog before, so you reach over the fence and try to pet the dog and it bites you. You weren’t trespassing and you weren’t attempting to provoke the dog, but you did not heed the posted sign. If a jury finds that you were 30% at fault for your injuries, your financial recovery would be reduced by 30%. If you are awarded $60,000 in damages, you would receive only $42,000.
What Is Important to Know When
Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
If you wish to pursue compensation for a dog bite, talk to a personal injury attorney right away. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Alaska is only two years from the date of the injury. You have only two years to settle your claim with the dog owner’s liability insurer. If you need to pursue suing for a dog bite, you have two years to file the lawsuit in the appropriate court.
Compensable damages in Alaska personal injury claims include medical expenses, including future medical expenses, lost wages, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Medical expenses would include compensation for mental health and trauma therapy, which often accompany dog attacks.
Dog Bites Attorney Serving Anchorage, Alaska
Although there are many attorneys in Anchorage and the surrounding communities, there are few who handle only personal injury claims and fewer who have handled dog bite claims. At the Law Office of Jason Skala, LLC, injury claims are all that we handle. Call us today to schedule a case consultation. Even if there are reasons you cannot pursue a claim, we welcome the opportunity to review your case.