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Virginia Dog Bite Case Ends In $125,000 Jury Award

August 20, 2013 by The Parrish Law Firm

UPDATE: A jury decided on a $125,000 award for a woman who was bit by a neighbor’s dog after veterinarian records showed the dog was highly aggressive, reports Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

Plaintiff Claudia Hamrock was attending a party on August 29th, 2009 with her neighbor Denise Dunham when Dunham offered to go to her home and get Bailey’s Irish Cream in order to make Irish coffee for the group. Hamrock and another woman accompanied Dunham to her home, where her 7-year-old, 130-pound Akita dog attacked Hamrock as she pet the animal in a chair.

Hamrock suffered injuries to her face and forearm from the dog’s bites, so far racking up medical bills worth $24,000. She still needs between one and three tissues augmentations to help repair the damage.

Hamrock originally reported to an animal control officer that she was extremely drunk at the time of the incident and could have stepped on the dog, but didn’t remember much. During disposition she changed her story and said she was not intoxicated and could give details of the incident.

The suit went to Chesapeake Circuit Court Judge Randall D. Smith, who allowed testimony by veterinarians who had worked with the dog for the past 3 or 4 years and said they had warned the dog’s owners of its aggressive tendencies.

The judge deferred a ruling on the defense’s argument that the smell of alcohol on Hamrock could have contributed to the dog’s aggression, and there was no evidence to play on it.

The third neighbor who witnessed that attack testified in Hamrock’s favor, saying the woman did not step on the dog.

Under Virginia law, a dog can be assessed for a ‘dangerous dog’ status if it is shown to be aggressive; a status that includes certain restrictions and regulations the dog owner must adhere to.

Original Story:

What might have been a straightforward dog bite claim has been complicated by a woman’s confession that she was heavily intoxicated at the time of the dog attack, reports The VLW Blog.

Claudia Hamrock took up a dog bite claim case in court against the owners of a male Akita dog after it bit Hamrock on the face and arm. The defendants are listed as Jeffery Dunham and Denise Dunham.

However, Hamrock at one point told an animal control officer that she was extremely intoxicated at the time of the attack and did not recall much of the incident. Hamrock said that it was possible she tripped over the dog, but she could not remember.

Hamrock sought to have her confession to the animal control officer excluded in court, but Chesapeake Circuit Judge Randall D. Smith shot that motion down after deciding it was relevant to Hamrock’s credibility in describing the attack. Hamrock gave conflicting testimony of the incident in court.

If the case goes to trial, Hamrock may also have to deal with expert testimony that alcohol fumes have the ability to arouse the canine instinct in dogs. Smith said he would be looking for such testimony.

Parrish Law Firm, PLLC dog bite injury lawyer works with northern Virginia residents who have suffered from dog bite attacks and are looking for fair compensation. Contact us at 703-906-4229 or fill out a free case consultation form.

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