Personal Injury Lawyers in Houston TX | O'Hara Law Firm

Can you sue someone for a dog bite in Texas

Can You Sue Someone For A Dog Bite In Texas?

How Often do Dog Bites Happen in Houston, Texas?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year, and 800,000 of them require medical attention. Additional data shows that 34 dog bite-related deaths occurred in Texas in 8 years. This is why it is essential to acknowledge the need to find a lawyer and explore your legal options after the attack. 

Most dog bites are caused by provocation. Unfortunately, provocation in dogs is very different in humans. Children and the elderly alike may be subjected to these attacks. Imagine if you suffered a severe injury due to a dog bite. What would you do? Are you willing to incur all the medical costs related to your injury? Or are you going to fight for compensation and damages?

Finding a lawyer who will best represent you and your interests is always challenging. However, seeking one after a dog bite injury should be on top of your priority list if you want to save time, effort and resources. Here is all the information you need to know about what you need to do after a dog bite attack and why you may need to hire a dog bite injury lawyer urgently.

Why Hire a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer?

Dogs may be considered a man’s best friend, but in some instances, dogs may also cause a man’s misery. Dog bites are no joke. In worst-case scenarios, it can leave you either dead, half-alive or severely injured. Aside from the traumatic experience, the medical costs largely depend on the severity of your injuries. If you are not that lucky, you will spend your life savings on it. 

Therefore, you should hire a dog bite injury lawyer to keep your legal problems at bay. 

Seek Immediate Treatment 

A dog bite victim must seek immediate treatment because most dog bites introduce bacteria into the body, which may be fatal if left untreated.

Even if you feel fine after the attack, you must administer first aid to yourself properly and monitor the bite, even minor ones, for a possible risk of tetanus, rabies virus infection, nerve damage, and other potential diseases. The risk of infection is even more remarkable for people who are immunocompromised and diabetic.  

Watch for signs of infection promptly, such as increased pain and fever, swelling, and redness. If symptoms appear within 24 hours up to 14 days, see your doctor immediately because you may need one.

Report the Bite 

After the attack, do not shy away from the authorities. 

The best thing to do is to report the incident to Animal Control. The Animal Bite Report is considered an official report of the incident, which serves as invaluable evidence to help build your case for a personal injury claim in the future. 

If your dog bite wounds appear to be life-threatening, call 9-1-1 immediately and get the necessary medical attention as soon as possible.

If emergency care is not required, call 3-1-1 instead. Try to ask for help from people nearby and be extra careful not to provoke the dog further. 

Identify the Owner 

In Houston, Texas, it is always essential to identify the dog owner in dog bite incidents. 

If you do not know the owner, reporting the incident to Animal Control is the best way to locate the dog’s owner. Once you find the owner, obtain his information, including his name, address and other relevant details.

Although some dog bites are not fatal, a dog bite victim is always uncertain of the dog’s timely vaccination. It is only proper to ask the owner for the dog’s veterinary records, license information, and vaccination history. This information is essential to prove the physical and mental state of the dog prior to and at the time of the attack and to determine if the dog has a history of violence or aggression in the past. It is also important to take note of your dog’s rabies inoculations in case you get attacked by your own family dog.  

Gather your Evidence 

Try to pull out your cell phone camera when you are safe from the incident and can move freely without the threat of another dog attack. 

Making a dog owner liable in Houston, Texas, requires a preponderance of evidence, or that amount of evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than that offered in opposition to it. 

Therefore, it is crucial to take pictures of anything that is relevant and important at the scene of the incident. Take photos of your injuries, the dog, if possible, and the area where the attack took place, for documentation purposes. The more pictures you have, the stronger your case will be because it will significantly paint a clear picture of your side of the case.

If you can secure a video of the incident from CCTVS around the area, it will provide excellent insight into how and why the attack occurred. 

If bystanders were in the area during the incident, it is best to attach their eyewitness testimonies to your claim to describe the attack. 

Retaining copies of your medical records and hospital bills is also imperative because these prove how much compensation you will get.

You will also need to keep a record of your wages and other benefits lost while you were unable to work recovering from your injuries. 

Remember that the evidence you have will likely determine the settlement you will get. 

Keep Calm

Remember that emotions can run very high after a frightening incident. You may feel all sorts of emotions — injured, horrified, angered, and distressed. If you think the owner is negligent in handling his dog, you should avoid confronting them. Otherwise, it will cause all the more provocation from the dog. 

To keep yourself safe from additional harm, it is best to keep your composure during and after the incident. Focus on your health and your overall condition. Seek immediate help and medical attention first. 

Negotiate With the Insurance Company 

Texas ranks third among the top ten states in the United States with the highest number of claims for dog bites and dog-related injuries. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite claims settled in Houston, Texas, was around $49,025 in 2021. 

In reality, you must consider that most insurance companies use different tactics and devise ways to avoid paying claims. They may give an inaccurate assessment of your damages or try to prove that there is contributory negligence on your part. 

Therefore, you have to be extra careful during settlement negotiations because you might say something which the dog owner’s insurance company will use to deny your claim altogether. While you may have an idea of the settlement amount you may receive, these insurance companies are also running their own calculations. 

Ultimately, the settlement amount varies drastically on a case-to-case basis but highly depends on the extent of your injuries and the experience of your attorney. 

Hiring an expert dog bite injury lawyer will get you the best possible settlement you deserve.

Instead of the Strict Liability Rule, Houston, Texas, adheres to the so-called One Bite Rule. This rule only holds an owner, keeper, or harborer liable for compensation and damages if sufficient evidence shows that 1) the dog has the tendency to be harmful, aggressive, or violent, 2) the owner has knowledge of this propensity prior to the dog bite incident and 3) the dog’s propensity caused damage to a person or his property during the incident. 

If these conditions are not met, you may not recover compensation. This rule makes it harder for you to make the dog owner liable.

However, there are exceptions to the One Bite Rule. First, you may recover compensation on the ground of negligence. You only have to prove the dog owner’s omission of that degree of diligence that a reasonable and prudent man would employ under similar circumstances. Second, violation of animal control law constitutes negligence per se. You only have to prove the violation of the statute. Lastly, the Supreme Court has ruled that a dog owner may also be held liable if he fails to stop an attack in progress without proving negligence and the requirements for the One Bite Rule. 

It is now important to realize that the amount of your settlement will certainly come down to the specifics of your case and the evidence of negligence against the dog owner, which is purely a matter of evidence. 

Thus, it is incumbent upon you to hire a lawyer who has professional expertise on the matter. 

Hire a Lawyer Now

Now that you know what to do after a dog bite incident, it is time to get yourself the best dog injury lawyer to explore your legal options. 

We can help you defend your legal rights and fight for you every step of the way. Remember to focus on your health and recovery while our attorneys do their jobs. 

Contact us today.

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