Can I Get Compensation for A Dog Bite in Virginia?

Suffering from a dog bite can be a traumatic experience that leaves lasting physical, emotional, and financial consequences. In the state of Virginia, victims of dog bites have legal rights and may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. This article aims to provide an overview of the legal recourse available to individuals who have been bitten by a dog in Virginia, emphasizing the importance of understanding your rights and seeking appropriate compensation.


Virginia follows the “one-bite rule,” which means that dog owners are generally protected from liability for their pet’s first bite, provided they had no reason to believe their dog was dangerous. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and victims of dog bites can still seek compensation under certain circumstances.


Virginia law imposes strict liability on dog owners for injuries caused by their pets if the victim can prove that the dog had a propensity for aggressive behavior or had previously bitten someone. In such cases, the owner can be held responsible for the victim’s injuries regardless of whether they knew about the dog’s dangerous nature.


Even if the one-bite rule does not apply and there is no evidence of a dog’s prior aggressive behavior, a victim may still be able to seek compensation by proving negligence on the part of the dog owner. This involves demonstrating that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing harm, such as not properly restraining or controlling the animal.


It is crucial to understand that Virginia has a statute of limitations, which sets a time limit on how long a victim has to file a lawsuit for a dog bite. In Virginia, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including dog bite claims, is generally two years from the date of the incident. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe may result in the loss of your right to seek compensation.


  • Medical Expenses: This includes compensation for all past, current, and future medical expenses related to the dog bite, such as emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
  • Pain and Suffering: Dog bite victims may be entitled to compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and the overall suffering caused by the incident and its aftermath.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: If the dog bite results in visible scarring or disfigurement, victims may be eligible for compensation to address the physical and psychological impact of such injuries.
  • Lost Wages: If the injuries from the dog bite prevent the victim from working, they may be entitled to recover lost wages, including both past and future income that was lost due to the incident.
  • Reduced Earning Capacity: In some cases, dog bite injuries can result in long-term or permanent disabilities that affect the victim’s ability to earn income in the future. Compensation may be awarded to account for the reduced earning capacity caused by the dog bite.


Attorney Richard SerpeWhile suffering a dog bite can be a distressing experience, it is important to be aware of your legal rights and options for compensation in Virginia. Consulting with a knowledgeable Virginia dog bite attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, ensuring you receive the appropriate compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the dog bite. 

Attorney Richard Serpe has dedicated his 37-year legal career to helping injured victims and their families. His dog bite clients include children, mail carriers, delivery drivers, neighbors, joggers, pedestrians, and many others across Virginia. If you’d like to discuss your options after an attack, call or text us anytime at (757) 233-0009 to speak with a team member.

Awards and Recognition: Best Lawyers® : (2005 – Present), Super Lawyer : (2006 – Present), Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent Rating, and Rated 10/10 – “Superb.”