Helping You Recover Compensation for Your Injuries and Anguish After a Dog Bite That Wasn’t Your Fault.

Dog attacks and dog bites are a serious problem that occurs more frequently than most people realize. The consequences of these attacks can be devastating, often resulting in physical injuries, scars, disfigurement, emotional trauma, and even wrongful death.

The victims of dog attacks are often children and seniors. Children are more likely to be attacked because they may not understand how to interact with dogs properly, and their small size makes them vulnerable to more severe injuries. Seniors may also be at a higher risk because they may have difficulty defending themselves or moving quickly enough to escape an attack.

However, a dog attack can happen to anyone. We’ve successfully represented adults, children, seniors, delivery drivers, postal carriers, and other innocent victims of Virginia dog attacks.


  1. Were you or a loved one attacked by a dog?
  2. Was the dog owner reckless or careless?
  3. Did the dog attack cause injury?
  4. Did your injury require medical attention?
  5. Did the dog attack occur in Virginia?


Depending on your situation, you may be able to recover monetary damages. These monetary damages may include your medical bills, disfigurement, scarring, plastic surgery, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other financial losses from the attack.

Consider contacting our legal team as soon as possible to protect your rights. We will conduct a thorough investigation and fight for the compensation you deserve. We know Virginia dog bite personal injury law!


Norfolk personal injury lawyerAttorney 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 us 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.”


Personal injury law seeks to make victims whole again. Victims can seek financial compensation for their injuries, whether through a homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance claim. No amount of money can turn back the clock and prevent the attack from happening. However, compensation can help with medical needs and provide financial assistance to get you back. A claim or lawsuit can cover your medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, scarring and disfigurement, plastic surgery, permanent injuries, and disabilities, as well as loss of career or earning capacity.

Many people are reluctant to file a claim against a dog owner, especially if the owner is a friend, family member, or neighbor. Since dog bites are usually covered by homeowner or renter’s insurance, though, you’re unlikely to be taking cash from their wallet. When a dog causes physical, emotional, or financial losses, you shouldn’t have to bear the weight of that alone.


Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your right to compensation:

See a doctor for your injuries.

Always call 911 if you have been seriously injured. Even if your attack doesn’t warrant an ambulance ride, consider seeing a doctor to address your wounds. When bitten or scratched by any animal, no matter the size of the wound, you run the risk of contracting rabies or an infection. Be sure to take care of yourself first. As far as personal injury claims go, you must have suffered injury and loss to pursue a claim. Medical documentation is a critical element of any personal injury case.

Report the incident to local animal control or emergency authorities.

 First and foremost, an animal that has attacked a person is a potential threat to the health and safety of the public. Most cities and counties throughout Virginia require that you report the incident to local animal services, the health department, or the police. An investigation into the animal will need to be conducted while the animal is placed in quarantine. The information collected through this investigation can be beneficial evidence in a personal injury claim.

Consider contacting a Virginia dog bite lawyer.

Although hiring a personal injury lawyer isn’t required, hiring a professional who understands the process can take a lot of stress off of you and your family. Most injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, so you won’t owe any legal fees unless there is a settlement or verdict.


Here are a few situations that may highly benefit from the experience and knowledge of a Virginia personal injury lawyer familiar with Virginia dog bite claims:

  • You’ve never been through the claims process. Insurance companies know that most people are inexperienced with the claims process and will take any chance to deny or minimize a claim.
  • Your injuries are permanent and life-altering. If you are permanently disabled after a dog attack, this will likely affect your ability to work and earn a living. You’ll want an attorney who can help the insurance companies or a jury understand how much your injury will affect the rest of your life.
  • Your injuries are severe, and your medical bills are expensive. Even if your injuries are not permanent, you will likely have costly medical bills and lost income when severe. Insurance companies look to deny or quickly resolve claims at the lowest dollar amount possible. An attorney will ensure that you are not being rushed and have time to get proper medical treatment.
  • The attack resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one. Virginia allows certain family members to make a claim for losses they have suffered as a result of negligence. When someone is fatally injured in a dog attack, it’s important to consult an attorney familiar with Virginia wrongful death cases.


Virginia’s “One Bite” Rule

This rule aims to hold pet owners legally responsible for the violent actions of their dogs. If a dog owner knows that their pet has bitten at least one time in the past, they can be held liable for the damages caused by subsequent attacks. In other words, if Fido got into trouble for biting a neighbor last year, his owner must take necessary precautions to prevent additional attacks from occurring. Should Fido bite again, his owner will likely be held responsible for the victim’s financial losses. This is because the owner knew of the dog’s violent tendencies but did not take action to prevent additional attacks.

Negligence Per Se

Even if a dog doesn’t have a violent past, negligent owners can still be held responsible for the damages their dog causes. Victims may sue for compensation so long as they have evidence that the owner failed to control their pet and follow the law. For instance, you may have a viable claim if you’re at the park and are attacked by a dog whose owner has let it roam off the leash. The decision to allow the dog off the leash in a place with strict leash requirements demonstrates the owner’s negligence.


Virginia personal injury lawyer settlementsClaims made by a dog attack victim are almost always paid out by the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Without the protection of a dog bite lawyer, insurance companies will try and offer you the lowest settlement possible or nothing at all.

Statistics: Insurers paid out $1.13 Billion in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2022, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). The average payout for a dog-related injury claim nationwide in 2022 was $64,555.

Typical damages for which dog bite victims can receive compensation include:

  • Medical Expenses: The cost of basic medical treatment, going to the emergency room, and any surgical treatment or care needed to repair the damaged area of the body.
    • Disfigurement, Scarring, Plastic Surgery: If the injury causes scarring or other unsightly marks, the victim is entitled to recovery for the disfigurement. Children are frequently bitten in the facial region and require plastic surgery.
  • Loss of Earnings: You may be entitled to recover for the loss of earnings that you suffered from your injuries.  If your injuries are life-altering and affect your ability to earn an income, this may be considered in your claim.
  • Pain and suffering: Physical pain and suffering and mental anguish you suffered and could endure in the future may be factored into your settlement.
  • A Wrongful Death: Virginia allows certain family members to make a claim for losses that have occurred due to the wrongful death of a loved one. These claims can be complicated and should be handled by an attorney familiar with Virginia wrongful death cases.


Many of our dog bite clients are, sadly, children. Kids love animals, but animals don’t always love kids. When dogs feel threatened, afraid, or angry, they can lash out at even the tiniest of children.

Dog bite injuries range from minor to deadly. Lacerations and punctures are common among child dog bite victims, including sprains, fractures, and tissue loss. Often, scarring on the face and neck leaves scarring on the face and neck leaves a permanent reminder of the attack. Some victims require surgery to repair the damage done and plastic surgery down the line to fix the cosmetic damage. If someone else’s dog harmed your child, contact our team for a free consultation.

dog bite lawyer client testimonialClient Testimonial: Child Attacked by Neighbor’s Dog

“My 7-year-old daughter was outside playing with friends in front of our home when she was viciously attacked by our neighbor’s Rottweiler. The Rottweiler dug a hole under the fence, escaped, and ran straight toward the children.

The dog ended up attacking my daughter by the calf, pulling her to the ground and dragging her several feet before letting go. When she arrived at the hospital, she was treated for two large lacerations and numerous small bites and puncture wounds before being transferred to CHKD where she had to have surgery.

My lawyer, Richard Serpe, and his staff did a thorough investigation into the dog owner and were able to secure a settlement for my daughter. The settlement allowed us to pay her medical bills, as well as set aside funds for her future education.” – Ms. Jones


Dog attacks can result in a range of injuries to humans, and the severity of these injuries can vary depending on factors such as the dog’s size, breed, temperament, and the nature of the attack. Common dog attack injuries to humans include:

  • Puncture Wounds: Puncture wounds are one of the most common injuries from dog bites. These injuries occur when a dog’s teeth break through the skin, causing deep, narrow wounds. Puncture wounds can lead to infection and may require stitches to close.
  • Lacerations: Lacerations are more extensive and involve tearing or cutting of the skin and underlying tissues. These injuries can result in significant bleeding and often require sutures or surgical repair.
  • Abrasions and Scrapes: Abrasions are shallow injuries that occur when the skin is scraped or rubbed against a rough surface. While they are typically less severe than puncture wounds or lacerations, they can still be painful and may require cleaning and bandaging.
  • Contusions and Bruises: Dog bites can cause bruising due to the blunt force trauma of a bite or impact. Bruises may be painful and take time to heal but are generally not as severe as other injuries.
  • Fractures and Broken Bones: In severe dog attacks, especially involving large or powerful breeds, bones can be fractured or broken. Fractures often require medical intervention, such as casting or surgery, to heal properly.
  • Nerve Damage: Bites near nerves or deep wounds can cause nerve damage, leading to numbness, weakness, or loss of function in the affected area. Nerve injuries may require specialized medical treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Infection: Dog bites can introduce bacteria from the dog’s mouth into the wound, increasing the risk of infection. Infections can lead to redness, swelling, pain, and, in severe cases, systemic illness. Prompt medical attention and antibiotic treatment are essential to prevent and treat infections.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Serious dog attacks can result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, particularly if the victim’s face or other highly visible areas are affected. Cosmetic surgery may be required to address scarring.
  • Psychological Trauma: In addition to physical injuries, dog attacks can cause psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and a fear of dogs or other animals.
  • Hemorrhage: In rare and severe cases, dog bites can damage blood vessels, leading to hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding). Hemorrhage can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Tendon and Muscle Injuries: Deep bites can damage tendons and muscles, leading to reduced mobility and function in the affected area. Physical therapy and surgery may be needed to restore function.
  • Eye Injuries: Dog attacks to the face can result in eye injuries, including corneal abrasions, retinal injuries, or even eye rupture. Eye injuries can have long-term consequences and may require ophthalmological treatment.
  • Infectious Diseases: In rare cases, dog bites can transmit infectious diseases such as rabies. Prompt medical evaluation and, if necessary, post-exposure prophylaxis are critical to prevent the development of such diseases.


In Virginia, there are strict deadlines for filing a lawsuit. In many cases, Virginia provides a two-year deadline, also known as the Statute of Limitations. However, sometimes special circumstances apply and can alter that deadline. While two years seems like a long time, it takes time for you to heal, and it takes time to build a strong case. In the event of permanent injury or wrongful death, the complex nature of these cases can deem time-consuming.

Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. Consider contacting someone to discuss your options as early as possible to protect your right to compensation. If you’d like to speak with our team, give us a call or text message at 757-233-0009.


Insurance companies have tremendous resources. Our law firm understands that the costs associated with a lawsuit can be a barrier to justice. This is why we offer a no-fee promise. You don’t owe us any legal fees unless we settle or win your case. If our Virginia dog bite lawyers accept your case, we will work on your behalf to get a fair settlement. We will only charge legal fees if you receive a settlement or verdict.


If you, your loved one, or a child have been attacked by someone else’s dog, contact our Virginia Dog Bite Lawyers for a free consultation. We represent individuals and families across the state of Virginia. Contact our office today 757-233-0009.


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