Common Law Liability of Dog Owners – Part 1

Washington State’s “Dog Bite Statute” holds canine proprietors strictly liable for damages resulting from accidents inflicted via their puppies. The phrase “strictly dependable” approach that the canine proprietor is in charge no matter whether or not the owner knew approximately the canine’s dangerous propensities and irrespective of whether or not the proprietor did anything wrong. To impose strict liability under the regulation, you clearly need to meet the elements of the statute.

But there’s any other basis to hold a canine owner accountable for damages caused by the canine. In Washington, a canine owner can also be held responsible for damages beneath the common regulation. In this bankruptcy, I provide an explanation for what “common regulation” approach and the way a canine proprietor can nonetheless be obligated to pay damages even though the terms of the “Dog Bite Statute” can not be met.

What Is “Common Law”?

In our machine of government, laws are usually created in ways. The first manner is while elected representatives draft a law after which enact it. At the kingdom level, this frame of Representatives is referred to as the “legislature.” The Washington Kingdom legislature creates legal guidelines known as “statutes.” At the nearby or town level, the frame is often called the “town council” and it can create legal guidelines known as “ordinances.” At the county level, those legal guidelines can be called “codes.” The “Dog Bite Statute” is an example of a law created by the Washington state legislature.

The 2d way that legal guidelines can be created is thru the courts. This is likewise known as “choose-made law” or greater appropriately, the “common law.” Essentially, the “commonplace law” refers to a body of regulation this is created with the aid of the selections or reviews of judges. These decide-made selections ought to be observed and enforced by using the decrease courts, regularly called trial courts. A leading decide-made law is regularly referred to as “precedent” due to the fact a lower courtroom should follow the choice and additionally implement it in different cases with similar reality styles.


The courts are best approved to decide problems of law based on the slim set of information earlier than it. The courts can not make regulation based totally on hypothetical facts. This means that the common regulation can take a few years to develop. As an end result, the not unusual regulation may be created in a patch-work fashion. At times, seemingly inconsistent or contradictory laws can be reached by way of extraordinary courts whilst the data of the case are almost identical or comparable. The application of the not unusual regulation can be lots much less predictable because the statistics giving rise to the laws may be slightly different in subsequent instances. The lifestyles of a new truth or the omission of a small reality in a new case can deliver upward thrust to new exceptions or changes within the common regulation addressing that unique problem.

It is crucial to remember that the kingdom legislature can enact a law that overrules or adjustments the commonplace regulation on a specific subject. This can best occur if the legislature’s regulation is determined to be constitutional, which is a query left as much as the courts. For instance, with the aid of enacting the “Dog Bite Statute,” the Washington Kingdom legislature basically supplemented or introduced to the common regulation by means of creating a brand new reason for movement as long as the elements of the statute are met.

In Washington, there’s a body of judge-made law (or common regulation) that has been created over the years with admire to the liability of canine owners for injuries or damages inflicted by means of their puppies. The “not unusual regulation” legal responsibility of canine proprietors is extra absolutely defined beneath.