If you’ve been attacked or bitten by a dog, it can be difficult to know what to do next. You may not even know if the owner of the animal is liable for your injuries. That’s where the dog bite attorney Chad Stavley can help. He has 14 years of experience representing people who have suffered serious injuries from dangerous dog attacks and will fight hard on your behalf to get you justice.
You need an experienced Portland dog bite attorney like Chad Stavley on your side when dealing with a dog attack case. Chad knows how insurance companies work and how they operate behind closed doors so that they don’t have to pay out claims quickly or fairly. Insurance adjusters will try hard to pay victims less money than they should and will make things more complicated than necessary for those seeking compensation after a dog bite injury. Don’t let them take advantage of you!
Let Mr. Stavley handle everything while you focus on recovering from your bite injuries and getting back into life as usual again as soon as possible. Call (503) 546-8812 today for a free consultation with Oregon's top-rated dog bite lawyer.
Portland Dog Bite Lawyer With a History of Results
Chad Stavley has a long history of getting results for clients who have been injured by dangerous dogs. He is passionate about helping these victims get the compensation they deserve, and he has a proven track record of success, including the largest dog bite verdict ever reported in Oregon.
In one recent case, Mr. Stavley represented a child who had been bitten by a dog at a local restaurant. The victim suffered facial injuries, including multiple puncture wounds that became infected and required hospitalization. Mr. Stavley fought hard to get her the compensation she needed to cover her medical expenses and other damages. In the end, her medical bills were paid, and she received a $300,000 "policy limit" settlement from the dog owner's insurance company.
Another of Mr. Stavley's cases involved a dog bite accident that occurred at the Portland International Airport when an "emotional support animal" attacked a young girl waiting for a plane with her family. Mr. Stavley filed a lawsuit against the dog owner, the airport, and the air carrier - Alaska Airlines. The case received worldwide media attention and forced policymakers to address the rampant fraud involved in getting an "emotional support animal" designation. Shortly after this case was resolved, the United States Department of Transportation revised its rules, and "emotional support animals" are no longer considered service animals and are therefore not allowed on flights.
Oregon Dog Bite Injury Law
Even many Oregon personal injury lawyers who hold themselves out as dog bite lawyers, don't seem to understand Oregon's dog bite laws. They often talk about a "one bite rule" that prohibits holding dog owners accountable unless the owner is aware of a prior bite. There is no "one bite" rule. If a dog has shown itself to be dangerous in the past, the owner is liable when the dog bites in the future.
Every dog bite personal injury claim in Oregon generally falls into one of three categories. Each of these categories of cases is treated differently under Oregon dog bite law. It is important that you understand these different types of dog bite cases.
Category One - The dog has a history of aggression.
When a dog has a history of aggression, whether that aggression is in the form of a bite, attack, or other dangerous conduct, and the owner knew, the owner is strictly liable. Strict liability means that the bite victim does not have to prove negligence. The owner of the dog is liable whether they were trying to be cautious or not.
We investigate all dog bite injuries to see if the case should fall in this category. We contact animal control to see if they have previous reports of dog bites or aggressiveness related to the dog. Our investigators interview neighbors to see if they are aware of any prior dog attacks, dog bites, aggressiveness, or conduct that might trigger strict liability. We even established strict liability one time by interviewing the mailman. Other ways to establish strict liability and make sure the owner is held liable can be through warning signs. The Oregon Court of Appeals established that a "Beware of Dog" sign was sufficient evidence to show an awareness of prior aggression.
Category Two - The dog has no history of aggression but the owner violated a local animal control law.
The second category of dog bite injury cases involves a dog with no history of aggressive conduct but the dog was not on a leash or under the control of the owner, and the location where the attack occurred has a local leash law.
Many counties and cities require dog owners to have their animals leashed or otherwise controlled while in public. If you can prove that the dog owner violated a city or county animal control law, you can establish negligence. A good dog bite attorney will know to look at the county and city ordinances where the dog bite happened to see if the dog's owner was acting illegally.
Category Three - The dog has no history of aggression and the owner did not violate any local leash law.
The third category of Oregon dog bite injury cases is when an owner has no knowledge of any aggressiveness on the part of their dog and is not violating a local leash law or ordinance. In this category of dog bite personal injury cases, the dog's owner is strict liability but only for the “economic damages” caused by the attack. This economic damages-only provision is established by Oregon law in ORS 31.360.
Economic damages include things like medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages suffered by the victim. In these cases, the victim cannot obtain compensation for non-economic losses that people sometimes call “pain and suffering.”
If you suffered a significant dog bite injury, call a dog attack lawyer familiar with dog bites to discuss your options. Chad Stavley handles dog bite cases throughout Oregon and Washington. Our law firm offers free consultations. Call 503-546-8812.
Common Injuries in Dog Attacks
A dog bite or dog attack can result in serious injuries, significant medical expenses, and future medical expenses. The injuries can come from the bite itself, falls while trying to avoid an attack or even infections from the bite. We have handled cases with injuries, including:
Broken bones from falls during attacks
Ligament and tendon ruptures or tears
Bite wounds that require medical attention
If you suffered injuries after being attacked or bitten, contact Portland-based lawyer Chad Stavley. Make sure the dog's owner and their insurance companies own up to their responsibilities.
Issues That Can Impact Collecting Your Damages
Every good personal injury attorney knows that establishing liability and proving your damages is worthless if you can't collect money from somewhere to pay for those damages. Generally speaking, the recovery comes from the insurance company of the person who owns or possesses the dangerous dog. Homeowners insurance and renters insurance both normally cover damages from a dog bite injury.
If the dog owner owns a home, the likelihood is that they have homeowners insurance. Typically those policies start with limits of $300,000 and can go much higher. Dog bites are one of the most common claims on homeowners' policies. If the owner refuses to provide their insurance information, we can get that information by filing a lawsuit.
If the dog owner is a renter, our law firm will see if they have renters insurance that covers the bite. Many attorneys do not want to handle these cases because the dog owner's renters policy may have low limits.
But what happens when the dog attack happens, and the owner does not own a home or have renter's insurance?
Holding Landlords Responsible In Oregon Dog Bite Cases
In Oregon, a landlord can be held liable for the injuries caused by their tenant dog owner in limited circumstances. First, the landlord must, at the time of entering into the lease, renewing the lease, or at any time during an at-will tenancy, know about the continuing danger presented by the tenant's dog and that the dog presents an unreasonable risk of harm to third parties off the rental property.
This would include situations where the landlord is aware that the dog has attacked or bitten in the past and nonetheless leases or renews a lease to the dog owners when the landlord knows children are likely to come into contact with the dog. As is true in all such cases, the more extreme the behavior of the landlord, the more likely a court will find that it is legally permissible for a case against a landlord to move forward. If you have a situation like this, it is important to get a free consultation with a lawyer familiar with representing victims of dog attacks.
Representing Child Victims
Children are the most common victims of dog attacks and the least able to fight for themselves. In any claim for a child victim, there are additional challenges. Establishing negligence can be more difficult when the child is too young to say what happened. The attorneys for the dog owner may claim the child provoked the dog. Our firm has represented the interests of many children clients.
There are several legal requirements required of an attorney representing child clients. First, except in small cases, the attorney must establish someone as the guardian ad litem (GAL) or conservator so that that person can legally act on behalf of the child. Once a GAL or conservator is legally established, that person makes the decisions for the child, including whether to file a lawsuit and whether to settle claims or go to trial.
Any settlements that net the child more than $25,000 require court approval in Oregon. the attorney will file a petition with the Court asking for approval of the proposed settlement. If the attorney collects money for the minor, by settlement or verdict, the conservator has a fiduciary duty to the child and must manage the child's money appropriately. This can be overwhelming for most people. You should contact Portland dog bite lawyer Chad Stavley for a free consultation and free confidential case evaluation.
Why Choose Chad Stavley?
No lawyer in Oregon has recovered more money on dog bite attack cases.
Over 80 Five Star reviews.
Chad is a trial lawyer. If your case doesn't settle, he is comfortable taking cases to a jury and getting results.
We represent clients throughout Oregon and Washington.
Convenient office location in Northwest Portland.
We offer free consultations. You get to understand all your options and it doesn't cost you anything.
Mr. Stavley represented a woman who was bitten in the face by her neighbor's Pit Bull in rural eastern Oregon. The woman had another Portland lawyer before hiring Mr. Stavley. That lawyer fired 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 Clackamas County 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 personal injury lawyer. The insurance company for the dog owner would not go above $80,000. She then hired Mr. Stavley. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the dog's owners and began preparing for trial. A month before trial, the insurance company relented and Chad negotiated a personal injury settlement for $325,000.
Mr. Stavley represented a Portland woman who was charged by a neighbor’s pit bull causing her to fall over a retaining wall. The woman suffered a slight fracture to her femoral condyle, ruptured her ACL and tore her meniscus. The dog owner’s insurance company, Allstate, initially blamed the woman for her own injuries. A week before trial they offered $185,000 then days before trial increased the offer to $225,000. The jury returned a verdict totaling $404,044.75.
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 animal bite occurred.
Can I sue for a dog bite injury 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, where the attack occurred, and your resulting injuries. Any competent dog bite attorney will want to discuss the dog attack, the animal owner, and your injury before presenting your legal options. Call for a free case evaluation.
How long does it take for a dog bite case to resolve?
That really depends on the severity of the injuries caused, where the animal attack occurred, and whether the owner and their insurance company want to be fair. Some personal injury 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 report the case to animal control in your county. Sometimes the hospital staff will do this. Nonetheless, you should call and make sure the case was reported. It is important for your potential dog bite lawsuit, but it is also important that animal control deal with the dog especially if there is a serious injury. 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. The prior report will show the owner's knowledge of their dog's former viciousness.
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. Usually, no legal action is necessary to make this happen. Get in touch for a free case evaluation to discuss how we can protect you.
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. Fortunately, most dog bites do not result in severe injuries. Nonetheless, we are happy to discuss your injuries and legal rights. If the injury seems too small to warrant our involvement, we refer such cases to other lawyers who may be willing to help.
You are in Portland and I am far away, should I contact you or get a dog bite attorney near me?
Mr. Stavley handles cases throughout Oregon and Washington. If the dog bite occurred in another state he is happy to discuss your options.
The dog bite case I want to discuss involves my child. Do you handle dog bite cases for children?
Yes. A high percentage of all animal attacks involve child victims. There are factual and legal challenges to representing a child in a personal injury case. Factually, sometimes when a child is a victim of a dog attack, they may not be able to explain what happened. Legally, there are a few things we must do before resolving a case. This includes setting up a conservatorship and getting court approval of any settlement.
The owner of the dog is a family member. I want the insurance company held responsible, but I do not want my family member to suffer any financial hardship. Is that possible?
Yes. You are the person who decides how your case is resolved. Dog bite lawyers normally deal with the homeowner's insurance company for the dog owners. The insurance policy will have coverage limits. If the dog bite injuries are severe enough that the policy might not be enough, you would decide how you want to proceed. In other words, if the dog owner does not have enough insurance to cover the severity of the injuries from the dog bite attack, then the victim decides whether to refuse the policy limits offer and proceed to trial to try to get additional money from the owner.
My experience is that most dog owners I see don't have significant money outside of their insurance policy. So victims of dog bites usually do not want to proceed beyond the insurance policy because it is not worth their time, especially when there is some risk involved in a trial.
I am looking for a dog bite lawyer to get a settlement. I do not want to file a lawsuit or go to a trial. Can you do that?
Yes. As I mentioned in the previous question, the decision on how you proceed is yours to make. Dog attacks are generally covered by the dog owner's homeowner's insurance or renters insurance policy. Insurance companies will generally negotiate claims without the need to file a dog bite lawsuit or go to trial, but they can be stingy.
You need to understand that sometimes the only way to force a good offer is to file a lawsuit and prepare for trial. And you still might not get a good offer. In that case, any good dog bite lawyer will recommend going to trial.
What kind of evidence is important in an animal attack case?
The first thing we do when we get a new animal attack case is collect evidence. We start with the police reports and animal control reports. We want to see what investigation was done. If there are witnesses, we want to see their interviews. If they weren't interviewed, we send our investigators to interview them. Dog bites are sometimes captured on video. We try to find any video that might be available. Our investigator interviews neighbors to learn if they know anything about prior dog bites or victims of dog attacks.
Most dogs have periodic veterinary appointments. We gather those records. Sometimes veterinary records indicate that the owner is aware their dog is aggressive. If the owner fails to take any precautions after having that information, that can add value to the case.
We obviously need to establish our injury case too, so we order medical records and speak with doctors and experts if necessary.
I have reached out to other dog bite lawyers and they have not been interested in my case. Why am I having such a hard time finding a dog bite lawyer?
There can be several reasons why a dog bite lawyer may not want your case.
First, they might not understand that these cases can be strict liability cases if the dog has an aggressive history.
Second, the injuries caused in the attack may be minor, and therefore the case value might not be enough to justify the lawyer's time.
Lastly, the lawyer may believe there will be no coverage. For instance, if the dog owner is a renter, they may not have renter's insurance. In such cases, there is often no insurance policy or money to collect. Also, sometimes the lawyers don't understand the case.
What are common injuries you have seen from animal bites?
First, the victims of dog bites are often children. In those cases, I frequently see bites to the face that can cause significant wounds and scarring. I have handled cases for adults where some or all of the injuries are the result of falls trying to get away from the dogs or trying to protect children from dogs. Those injuries have included nerve damage, ligament tears, bite wounds, and infections. We have a long history of making sure owners are held liable when their animal attacks.
What if I was injured by a dog but I was not bitten?
It is not necessary that your injuries are due to a bite. I have handled cases where a dog knocked over a person jogging in a park, and another where a dog ran into a person on their bicycle causing them to crash.
In 2015 I tried a case to a jury in Multnomah County where a represented a person who was chased by a dog and fell off a retaining wall trying to get away. The dog never touched her. The owner was held responsible by the jury and the verdict was the largest dog bite verdict ever reported in Oregon. It is with noting that we took that case after the client was fired by another law firm who said the case was not winnable. The client was left looking for a new lawyer and was rejected by another law firm before we took the case.
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
Chad and his team were wonderful to work with! They handled all the details of our tough situation for us so we could focus on healing. They're knowledgeable, supportive, and kind. We're so thankful for them!
- Noelle Christensen
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