Washington State’s “Pet Chunk Statute” holds dog house owners strictly liable for damages brought on by accidents inflicted by their dogs. The phrase “strictly liable” signifies that the dog proprietor is liable regardless of whether or not the proprietor understood about the dog’s hazardous propensities and regardless of whether or not the proprietor did something incorrect. To impose strict legal responsibility less than the legislation, you merely have to satisfy the elements of the statute.
But there is an additional basis to hold a dog proprietor liable for damages brought on by the dog. In Washington a dog proprietor can also be held liable for damages less than the common law. In this chapter I describe what “common law” signifies and how a dog proprietor can however be obligated to fork out damages even if the terms of the “Pet Chunk Statute” can not be achieved.
What Is “Common Law”?
In our system of governing administration, legal guidelines are normally designed in two approaches. The very first way is when elected reps draft a legislation and then enact it. At the condition amount, this body of reps is identified as the “legislature.” The Washington condition legislature produces legal guidelines acknowledged as “statutes.” At the local or metropolis amount, the body is typically identified as the “metropolis council” and it can produce legal guidelines acknowledged as “ordinances.” At the county amount these legal guidelines may perhaps be identified as “codes.” The “Pet Chunk Statute” is an illustration of a legislation designed by the Washington condition legislature.
The 2nd way that legal guidelines can be designed is by means of the courts. This is also identified as “decide-manufactured legislation” or additional accurately, the “common law.” Effectively, the “common law” refers to a body of legislation that is designed by the selections or thoughts of judges. These decide-manufactured selections have to be followed and enforced by the lower courts, typically identified as demo courts. A primary decide-manufactured legislation is typically referred to as “precedent” due to the fact a lower court have to comply with the decision and also enforce it in other circumstances with related fact patterns.
The courts are only permitted to choose challenges of legislation based on the slim set of facts prior to it. The courts can not make legislation based on hypothetical facts. This signifies that the common law can choose a lot of many years to create. As a result, the common law may perhaps be designed in a patch-perform fashion. At occasions, seemingly inconsistent or contradictory legal guidelines can be attained by two diverse courts when the facts of the case are almost equivalent or related. The software of the common law can be a great deal significantly less predictable since the facts giving rise to the legal guidelines may perhaps be a bit diverse in subsequent circumstances. The existence of a new fact or the omission of a smaller fact in a new case can give rise to new exceptions or improvements in the common law addressing that particular situation.
It is crucial to understand that the condition legislature can enact a legislation that overrules or improvements the common law on a particular matter. This can only manifest if the legislature’s legislation is identified to be constitutional, which is a concern left up to the courts. For illustration, by enacting the “Pet Chunk Statute,” the Washington condition legislature effectively supplemented or additional to the common law by creating a new trigger of motion as prolonged as the elements of the statute are achieved.
In Washington, there is a body of decide-manufactured legislation (or common law) that has been designed over the many years with respect to legal responsibility of dog house owners for accidents or damages inflicted by their dogs. The “common law” legal responsibility of dog house owners is additional completely stated below.