Dog attacks are unfortunately common in Oregon. We have a large population of dog owners and not all of them are responsible with their dogs. Many of the dog bite cases we see involve victims who are children or elderly. The injuries can be significantly greater than the bite wounds themselves and often include emotional trauma.
Holding the dog owner responsible often requires the help of a lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. Each Oregon county and city may have their own laws that outline the responsibilities of dog owners. The dog owner may not be willing to provide their home-owner’s insurance information. It can also be a challenge learning whether the dog has a history of aggression.
Chad Stavley has handled numerous dog bite cases to settlement and verdict. Chad’s recent case involving a child attacked by an “emotional support” pit-bull in the Portland airport was featured on news sites worldwide. Airlines have now changed their rules related to emotional support animals.
Oregon Dog Bite Law
Dog bite cases in Oregon generally fall into one of three categories. Each of these categories of cases are treated differently under Oregon dog bite law.
Dog with a history of aggressiveness
Dog with no history but in public location
Dog with no history on private property
The first category of cases involves dogs with a history of bites, attacks, or other aggressive conduct. If the owner is aware of the prior aggressiveness, then the owner is responsible for any injury that the dog causes no matter how careful they may have been. This is called strict liability. We investigate every dog bite case to see if it belongs in this category. We work with animal control to learn everything we can about the dog’s history. Does the dog have a prior reported bite? We interview neighbors to find out information about the dog. We even broke a case after interviewing the mailman!
The second category of cases involve a dog with no history of aggressive conduct but in a public location. These cases are generally governed by each city or county’s animal control law. Most counties and cities require dog owners to have their animal leashed or otherwise controlled while in public. If we can prove that the dog owner violated that law, we can make them responsible for the resulting injuries.
The third category of cases is the worst category. In this category the dog has no history of aggressive conduct and the attack happened on private property. Oregon law gives a break to dog owners in cases in this category. In these cases, the dog owner is only responsible for the “economic damages” caused by the attack. Economic damages include things like medical expenses and lost income but do not include damages for non-economic losses that people sometimes call “pain and suffering.”
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Mr. Stavley represented a woman who was bitten by a pit-bull that had previously bitten a man several years before. The woman's medical expenses only amounted to $1,700. Mr. Stavley filed a lawsuit and within months the dog owner's insurance company offered $250,000.
Mr. Stavley represented a woman who was bitten in the face by her neighbor's Pit Bull. The woman had another Portland lawyer before hiring Mr. Stavley. That lawyer dropped the woman as a client after the dog owner's insurance company denied liability. Mr. Stavley filed a lawsuit against the dog owner and within three months the dog owner's insurance company offered their policy limits - $300,000
Mr. Stavley represented a woman who was hiking in a park when an off-leash dog ran into her, causing her to fall and dislocate her elbow. The owners of the dog denied liability and argued that the woman fell due to her own negligence. Prior to hiring Mr. Stavley, the woman attempted to negotiate a settlement using a different lawyer. The insurance company for the dog owner would not go above $80,000. She then hired Mr. Stavley. He filed a lawsuit against the dog's owners and began preparing for trial. A month before trial, the insurance company relented and the case settled for $325,000.
Not exactly. In cases where a dog with no history of aggressiveness bites someone in a public location, we look to the animal control laws of the county and city where the bite occurred.
Can I sue for a dog bite in Portland, OR?
That depends on many factors including whether the dog has a history of aggressive conduct, whether the owner was aware the dog had a history, and where the attack occurred. Call so that we can discuss whether you have a case.
How long does it take for a dog bite case to resolve?
That really depends on the severity of the injuries, where the attack occurred and whether the owner and their insurance company want to be fair. Some cases can resolve in six months while others can take two years.
What should do if I was bitten by a dog?
Make sure you have the case reported to animal control in your county. Oftentimes the hospital staff will do this. You should call and make sure the case was reported. It is important for your potential case, but it is also important that animal control deal with the dog. It is also important that they file the case so that if the dog bites again, the second victim can find out the dog’s history and hold the owner strictly liable.
Can I get my medical bills paid while this case is getting sorted out?
Sometimes you can get bills paid through the “med-pay” portion of the dog owner’s homeowner’s policy even before the case resolves. Feel free to call me so we can discuss this.
Is my case even worth pursuing if my only long-term damage is scarring?
I have taken a case to trial and received over $300,000 where the only permanent injury was scarring.
Reviews from Clients
I had a very difficult case involving my toddler who sustained a severe dog bite to her face. Chad Stavley and his staff handled my case perfectly. I'm grateful for his knowledge and he made me feel like I was his only client.
- Christina Simonton
Chad helped our family when my dad and his dog suffered a particularly vicious attack by another dog. From start to finish, Chad was responsive and helped us navigate through a confusing and emotionally difficult period. It's clear that he's not only highly competent as an attorney, but is also a caring and compassionate person. We are forever grateful to him for his guidance and his skill which ultimately brought us the justice we were seeking.
- Jenna Van Slyke
Chad and his team did a phenomenal job handling our case. They were diligent and put in the extra effort to get justice for my wife. Extraordinary job Chad we can't thank you enough. We would highly recommend Chad and his firm to anyone needed legal guidance. Thanks again Chad.
- Kippy Kidder
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