If your child has been the victim of a dog bite attack in Washington State, this may help answer your legal questions.
The legal process for child injury claims differs from the legal process for cases brought by adults. For starters, a child under the age of 18 is considered a minor. In Washington, a minor cannot file a lawsuit on his or her own. This can only be done by a guardian appointed by the court. A guardian is someone who the court believes will adequately protect the child’s interests and do what is best for the child in the legal case that is being filed on the child’s behalf.
If the child’s dog bite case cannot be settled with the dog owner’s insurance company, the next step is to file a lawsuit. To start a lawsuit, a petition must be filed, asking the court to appoint a suitable guardian who will bring the lawsuit on the child’s behalf. Oftentimes the guardian appointed by the court will be the child’s parent or parents. However, there may be a problem with using the child’s parents to act as guardians. If there is a potential argument that the parent was somehow responsible for causing the child’s injury, then there may be a conflict of interest between the interests of the child and those of the parent. In that situation a parent may be prohibited from acting as the child’s guardian for purposes of bringing a lawsuit.
Once the court grants the petition, an order is entered stating that the guardian is authorized to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the child. In addition to filing the petition, there are additional documents called pleadings that must be filed in court along with a fee paid to the clerk. These pleadings are called the summons and complaint. The case then proceeds in much the same way that one would for an adult.
Order Your Own Book About Dog Bites in Washington State
This is a short excerpt from the book “When the Dog Bites: the Essential Guide to Dog Bite Claims in Washington” written by Seattle dog bite attorney Chris Davis. If you want to continue reading, click here to order your free book.
Mr. Davis is widely recognized as "the premier dog bite law lawyer" in Washington State. Washington Super Lawyer Magazine featured him in their June 2010 Issue.
Chris Davis at Davis Law Group has nearly 20 years of experience in dog bite cases. Call for a free consultation and Mr. Davis will answer any further questions you may have, (206) 727-4000.