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Can I make a claim if I'm bitten while provoking a dog?

Getting bitten by a dog can be a very scary experience. You might have felt safe with the dog at the time and thought that they were harmless. Dogs can be very unpredictable, and you may have been engaging in what you thought was playful behavior until the dog turned on you and became aggressive.

If you were playing or teasing the dog that you got bitten by, you probably thought that you were acting harmlessly and had good intentions. Later, when you decide to investigate whether it is possible to claim damages for the dog bite and the suffering that you endured, the dog's owner might have become defensive. They might even argue that you were tormenting and provoking the dog, which caused the animal to behave in this way.

The law in Virginia states that a dog owner is liable for any damages that their dog caused as long as the dog was not provoked in any way. Therefore it is very important that you are able to settle your claim based on the fact that you were not provoking the dog to bite you. Under common law, in order to claim negligence, you must also be able to prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had the potential to be aggressive and chose to do nothing about it.

If you have found yourself in a position where you have been bitten by a dog and you are not sure about how to make a successful claim, you should spend time documenting your side of events and learning about your rights.

Source: CGA, "liability for dog bites," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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