Dog Laws In District of Columbia

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Dog owners are “strictly liable” when their dog causes injury to another person, meaning the dog owner is liable whether he or she was negligent or not. This law applies to bites and other injuries caused by a dog, such as knock downs. A person injured by a dog in the District of Columbia may recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and may recover for pain and suffering.

In certain circumstances, a person injured by a dog will not be able to recover damages if they were partly or completely at fault for the injuries through taunting or provoking the dog, or failing to take steps to protect themselves.

Washington D.C. recognizes some breeds of dog as “dangerous,” and owners of such dogs that cause injury can be held to a higher standard of care.

In Washington, D.C., a landlord can be held liable for a bite by a tenant’s dog if the landlord was aware of the dog’s vicious tendencies and did not adequately act to alleviate the known danger.


Under the applicable District of Columbia limitation code, a lawsuit for injuries caused by a dog must be filed in court within three (3) years of the date that the injury happened, or the injured person will be precluded from recovering damages for their injuries forever.


D.C. Code Ann. § 8-1808

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The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed through the use of this website.  Laws relating to dog injuries can, and do, change.  To learn your legal rights, contact The Snow Law Firm, or contact a licensed and experienced attorney in your state.


In most states, when a minor is bitten or injured by a dog, the statute of limitation period does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.  Thus, for example, if an 11-year-old child is bitten or injured by a dog in a state that has a 3 year statute of limitation period within which to file a lawsuit, they will have three years from the date they turn 18 years of age, and would thus have to file a lawsuit before they turn 21 years of age.  In most instances, however, it is recommended that a parent or guardian bring a claim for a dog bite or injury claim on behalf of a minor child before waiting for the injured child to turn 18.


Some states limit the type of damages that a person bitten or injured by a dog can recover.  In most states, however, a person who is bitten or injured by a dog can recover damages that include medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, physical pain and mental suffering, scarring, permanency of injury, periods of total and/or partial disability and loss of spousal consortium.