Vermont Animal Bites

Winburn Law Offices have handled numerous animal bite cases.  (See our blog of March 4, 2016.)  Most frequently they involve dogs but even cats and any other types of pets can attack people and the owner and their insurance company can be responsible.  These kinds of cases are usually handled through the pet owner’s Homeowner’s Insurance policy.

There is a myth that all dogs are entitled to one “free” bite but this is not true in Vermont.  In the case of Davis v. Bedell, 123 Vt. 441 (Vt. 1963) the Vermont Supreme Court states that the rule is “whether a dog’s past behavior has been such as to require a person of reasonable prudence to foresee harm to the person or property of others.”  See Davis at p. 442.  This type of behavior includes any aggressive behavior on the part of dogs and frequently veterinarian records are available to track the mental health of the dog as well as records of local Dog Control Wardens and statements of neighbors.

The lawyers at Winburn Law Offices have handled thousands of personal injury cases over the last three decades.  Although most cases settle and are not reported in the media, see the following excerpts from local newspapers about a few of our cases over the years:



DOCKET NUMBER 298-9-14 Bncv

MEDIATOR Art O’Dea (last offer $40,000)

FACTS Defendant, owner of dog, has Defendant boyfriend and his Defendant daughter living in her house with dog (110 lb Alaskan Malamute) for four years before incident. Dog exhibits some aggressive behaviors during that time. Plaintiff approaches dog who is sitting in living room to give it a hug. Plaintiff never got to actually touch dog when dog lunged and bit her face.

INJURIES Four facial lacerations; one each cheek healed with faint small scar; on on upper and lower lip visible if within about six feet from Plaintiff. Emotional harm, nightmares.


JURY VERDICT: $108,0000


April 1, 2016 – VJAJ Report


The lawyers of Winburn Law Offices have won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. These verdicts include a $2.4 million verdict in Vermont Federal Court for a woman who was struck by an automobile while crossing a street in Manchester (see Canedy v. Liberty Mutual, 126 F.3d (2nd Cir. 1997) and an award of $1.1 million in Vermont Superior Court for a man who was struck by a truck while riding his motorcycle in Northfield, Vermont (see Brown v. Roadway Express, 169 Vt. 633 (Vt. 1999). Agreements reached by pre-trial settlement also include results in excess of one million dollars.

While most cases do not guarantee verdicts or settlements of this size, our record of success in court serves all of our clients in two ways. First, it helps compensate them for the injury and losses they suffered because of someone else’s irresponsibility. Second, it contributes to our ability to reach fair settlements for our clients. Opposing lawyers and insurance companies know our track record of success in court which helps assist them in their determination of a fair settlement value of our clients’ cases.

Mr. Winburn has also been an invited speaker at the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association, the Vermont Bar Association and Vermont Association of Justice meetings including:

  • The Use of Expert Witnesses – December 2, 2016
  • Extraordinary Cross-Examination – November 19, 2010
  • A review of Vermont Verdicts – April 3, 2009
  • Bench and Bar Panel – May 30, 2008
  • Trial Advocacy In Vermont – Winning Techniques and Insights – May 10, 2007
  • A Review Of Vermont Verdicts and Settlements in 2004 – March 25, 2005
  • Persuading The Gatekeeper – Daubert And It’s Progeny – January 15, 2005
  • How To Grab The Jury With Your Opening Statement – March 19, 2004
  • Anatomy of a Jury Trial – February 7, 2003
  • Nuts and Bolts of Trial Practice – February 9, 2001
  • Opening Statement – May 11, 2001
  • Insurance Abuses – July 13, 2001
  • Trial Practice – December 7, 2001
  • Gender and Case Outcome – September 8, 2000
  • Understanding Basics – Medical Malpractice – May 12, 2000
  • Vermont Auto Insurance Law and Accident Litigation – August 26, 1999
  • Handling Medical Malpractice Cases – April 9, 1999
  • Communication – Mock Jury – June 14, 1998
  • Closing Arguments – October 9, 1998
  • Discovery: Was Trial By Ambush Better? – September 19, 1997
  • Damages: Loss of Enjoyment – May 31, 1996
  • Compulsory Physical Examinations – 1993

Contact us at (802)447-0100, (802)362-5100, toll free at (800)640-5100 or at for a free consultation.  We only handle personal injury cases in Vermont and charge a fee only if we are successful.