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

Houston Dog Bite Attorney

Houston Dog Bite Attorney: An Ultimate Guide on Dog Bite Cases

Every year, over 4.5 million people sustain dog bites in the US. Of these people, approximately 1 in 5 will need medical attention.
Children are among the most common dog bite victims and are the most likely to sustain severe injuries. Many of these injuries occur while the child is interacting with dogs they’re familiar with.
If you or your child has sustained a dog bite injury, then you need a Houston dog bite attorney to help you navigate this difficult process. This article explains to you how a dog bite attorney can help you recover maximum compensation while working to protect your rights.
Make sure to keep reading for the ultimate guide to navigating dog bites and what to expect from your Houston dog bite lawyer.

Determining Who's At Fault for a Dog Bite Claim

The dog’s owner can be liable should their dog bite or attack someone. However, to provide that the owner is liable, there need to be negligence factors taken into consideration and analyzed. For example, the owner would need to have known that their dog might bite or attack another person.

Keep in mind that not all dog breeds react to other people the same. Some breeds are more aggressive than others and are more likely to attack. If the dog owner violates any regulations or containment ordinances or even leash laws, then they might be found liable.

Your dog bite attorney will walk you through the ins and outs of who’s liable for a dog bite or attack.

Length to File a Claim

Dog bite claims have a statute of limitations from the date the attack took place. Be sure to file your claim within the allotted amount of time. If you’re unsure about your statute of limitations, then you need to contact a trusted dog bite lawyer as quickly as possible. When filing claims, time is of the essence. The sooner you begin working with an attorney, the stronger the case they can build for you.

Texas Dog Bite Case Liability

The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant was negligent with their dog and that that caused the bite or attack to occur. Victims must prove that the owner of the dog knew that the animal was aggressive or had a history of bites. They also need to prove that the owner was responsible for controlling the dog’s behavior and that the owner was negligent and, as a result, someone was injured. When working to prove a case, you should find evidence that there were prior attacks and patterns of aggressive behavior. You might need to contact your local animal control or call neighbors to gather any evidence to support your claim. You can also get statements from animal behavior experts. If you’re unsure where to begin, you need to immediately contact your Houston dog bite attorney. They’ll walk you through every step of your dog bite claim and help you conduct a proper investigation. They’ll also work to get you the compensation you deserve. Even if the dog in question has no prior history of attacking anyone, you may still be entitled to compensation.

Texas Dog Bite Laws

Texas doesn’t have any one specific law about dog bites. It’s known as a “one-bite-state”. You might be wondering who is held responsible for a dog bite and who is going to pay for the injuries caused by it. In Texas, you must prove the dog had prior aggressive behavior before the dog bit the victim to win under a strict liability theory, and this is why Texas is called a one-bite state. What this means is that a dog owner might not be able to be held liable for a dog bite since there would be no earlier instance of their dog biting someone. However, if you’re bitten or attacked by a dog, you can still sue its owner for negligence. If the owner allows their dog to attack you and does nothing to prevent the attack, then you may have a case. Additionally, you may also be able to sue a landlord if you’re attacked by someone else’s dog but on the landlord’s property. It’s important to understand that anyone closely related to the dog bite victim may sue the owner in certain circumstances. Since witnessing a dog bite can be traumatic, bystanders may also be able to sue for damages. This is why you need an experienced attorney for dog bites. They’ll help you reach maximum compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and medical bills.

What Is the Texas "One Bite" Rule?

In Texas, there is a “one bite” rule in place. After a dog’s first attack or bite, the owner is put on notice regarding the dog’s aggressive behavior. This means that if their dog bites someone again, they’re likely to be found liable for their dog’s behavior. Just because a dog has never bitten someone doesn’t mean that the owner can’t be found liable if the dog attacks someone again. If a dog attacks a child, knocking them down and causing them to break a bone, then the parent can make a claim against the dog’s owner.

What Does Texas Define as a Dangerous Dog?

Texas Law defines a dangerous dog as an animal that makes an unprovoked attack on a person, resulting in bodily injury. It also defines a dangerous dog as one that commits any unprovoked attacks in a place other than the animal’s secured enclosure. Once a judge declares a dog is dangerous, they have thirty days to register the animal with the animal control authority where they reside. The dog must be kept on a leash or enclosed somewhere, and the dog must have a $100,000 liability insurance policy on it.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Children less than nine years old suffer the most dog bite and attack injuries, while children under six are at a greater risk of more severe injuries. These injuries involve the head, neck, and face. Other injuries dog bite victims may sustain include:

  • Broken blood vessels and bones

  • Severe nerve and muscle damage

  • Physical disfigurement and impairment

  • Bleeding cuts and lacerations of the skin

  • Eye injuries

  • Scarring

  • Emotional distress including PTSD and depression

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Severed limbs and body parts

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

  • Serious infections including Rabies, Capnocytophaga, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus

Dog bites vary in severity and the type of breed plays an integral role, along with the size and age of the victim. The location of the bite also plays a crucial role. This is why dog bite victims must seek immediate medical advice. The most commonly affected areas are the face, head, neck, back, hands, arms, wrists, legs, ankles, and feet. Injuries are expensive to treat, and your quality of life may greatly be diminished. This is why you need to contact an attorney for dog bite compensation.

Dog Bite Injury Payouts

If you’ve sustained a dog bite injury, you’re probably wondering who pays out these claims. If a neighbor or friend’s dog bit or attacks you, you may be hesitant to file a claim for medical expenses and pain and suffering, along with emotional stress. However, most people have insurance, and their insurance providers are the ones to pay out these claims. The dog’s owner should have a homeowner’s insurance policy that handles claims such as this, which is why you need to contact a skilled dog bite lawyer to walk you through the entire process. Should you sustain a dog bite injury on a business’s property, the business should have a commercial liability insurance policy to protect its assets and pay out your claim. The types of damages you can recover depend on the injuries you’ve sustained. You might be able to recover a myriad of damages. For example, you may be entitled to have your medical expenses paid for. This includes any current and future medical expenses caused by the dog bite or attack. You may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages if the dog bite or attack leads to you missing work. If you’re permanently disabled and unable to return to work, you may be able to recover compensation for lost earning capacity. You can also recover damages for pain and suffering if the dog bite or attack left you with injuries. Additionally, you can recover damages for emotional distress, including emotional scarring. You need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the best way to recover damages for your injury. Since dog owners may have a homeowner’s policy in place, your lawyer can help you secure damages from their insurer

Proving a Dog Bite Case

If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, you need to prove the incident happened. This is where an experienced attorney comes into play. They’ll explain to you what instances an owner isn’t liable. Here are some examples.

Trespassing

If you trespass on someone else’s property and their dog bites or attacks you, then you may not be able to recover any damages. For example, if the trespasser enters the dog’s enclosed area, the owner can argue that they didn’t have to protect the trespassers in this scenario. However, if the person asked for permission into this enclosed area and was granted access, then the owner wouldn’t be able to use this excuse. This includes guests in someone’s house or customers inside a business. When someone trespasses and has no legal right to be on a property, the owner can successfully argue that the victim is responsible for the attack.

Provocation

If the dog that bit or attacked someone was provoked or someone tried to hurt the dog, then the owner can argue that the attack was the dog defending itself. However, this defense doesn’t work if the dog attacked a child. The owner would be seen as negligent in letting the dog get close to the child. It’s also possible for the defendant to state that the victim provoked the dog in one way or another. If they’re able to successfully argue this, they may be able to reduce the damages or completely win the case. Again, this won’t work if the victim was a child because small children don’t know better and aren’t liable for their actions.

Dog Attack Claim Defenses

You may find that a dog owner argues your claim by stating the following:

  • There was no proper knowledge of the dog being dangerous

  • You were trespassing when the dog attacked or bit you

  • You provoked the dog, making you partially responsible for your injuries (again, this doesn’t apply to children)

You need to prove that the owner knew about the dog’s dangerous tendencies, which is why you need a skilled attorney for your claim.

Additionally, Houston dog bite lawyers understand the intricacies of dog bite claims, such as dog bite levels.

Dog Bite Levels Explained

Level 1

Level 1 dog bites are considered pre-bites. This level refers to aggressive dog behavior, such as snapping at the air but may not include any contact between the dog’s teeth and a person’s skin.

Level 2

Level 2 dog bites are near-bites. This is when teeth make contact with the skin, but there isn’t a puncture wound. Injuries include skin knocks up to 1/10 of an inch deep.

Level 3

Level 3 dog bites include one to four puncture holes. None of these puncture holes are further than half of the dog’s canine tooth length.

Level 4

Level 4 dog bites include a series of dog bites with at least one of the puncture holes going deeper into the victim’s skin than half the length of the dog’s canine tooth. There is usually bruising with these bites as the dog latches on and clamps down. A laceration may go in either direction as the dog shakes its head.

Level 5

Level 5 dog bites involve a series of dog bites either in a single incident or in multiple attacks. This might be a minimum of two bites that meet level 4 criteria. Level 5 dog bites, on average, settle for an average of $1,500,000 to $7,250,000. As with level 4 dog bites, the settlement amount depends on each situation’s unique circumstances.

Level 6

Level 6 dog bites are fatal to the victim. This dog bite scale is used to assess the victim’s prognosis for future harm relating to the dog bite and how likely bite-inhibition training is. This scale isn’t used to diagnose any injuries or used as an injury treatment plan.

You've Sustained a Dog Bite Injury: Now What?

If you’ve sustained a dog bite injury or suffered from an attack, you need to immediately seek medical attention. This includes getting a rabies vaccination if you’re unsure of the dog’s vaccination status, so be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider. Puncture wounds can cause long-term issues if not immediately addressed, and infection can occur. Only if you’re able to, take a picture of the dog that bit you, along with its owners and the scene of the injury. You’ll need this for future records. You’ll also need to ask the owners several questions about the dog.

Questions to Ask the Dog's Owner

You’ll need to obtain certain information from the dog’s owner, as this can improve the type of medical treatment provided to you and prevent unnecessary and expensive treatments. Ask if the dog is up to date with its vaccinations, especially rabies. Don’t take the owner’s word for it- ask to see the documentation and get copies for your records. Rabies is almost always fatal when left untreated, but there are safe, effective vaccines you can receive. However, you need to receive the rabies vaccine as soon as possible and before symptoms present. If the owner is unsure of their dog’s rabies vaccination status, they can contact their dog’s vet for a full report. You may want to find out if the dog has a history of biting or attacking other people. If you feel the dog is a threat to your community, you should notify animal control or the police to help keep your community safe from dog bites and attacks.

Personal Information From the Dog's Owner

Homeowner’s insurance usually covers damages from a dog bite, even if the incident occurred off the owner’s property, such as when the animal was out for a walk. You’ll want to obtain the dog owner’s full name, address, and phone number. If they happen to have their homeowner’s policy and information available, try to get a copy of it. Otherwise, inform them that your attorney will reach out to them.

Filing a Claim

When filing a claim, it’s essential to work with a skilled attorney. They’ll help you initiate your claim and assist you with recouping medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages from the dog’s owner. Your attorney will understand whether or not your claim is valid and can determine whether or not the dog has a bite history or attacked someone else. For dog bites that aren’t too serious, you may only be able to initiate a claim for medical expenses. However, if the owner knew their dog had a history of biting or attacking people, you may be able to pursue a dangerous dog claim and seek compensation for any damages sustained. This is why you need a lawyer to help you navigate the ins and outs of filing a dog bite claim. Here’s how a dog bite lawyer can help you.

Dog Bite Attorneys Are Skilled Negotiators

When working with attorneys for dog bites, you’re hiring a skilled negotiator that understands how insurance companies work. They know that insurance companies often settle for the lowest amount possible, protecting their bottom line. However, your dog bite lawyer is trained in negotiating with these insurance companies and can get you maximum compensation for your injuries. Your lawyer will review the insurance company’s offer and work to convince them why you’re entitled to more.

They Offer Professional Experience

When embarking upon a dog bite lawsuit, you want to work with someone who has the professional experience and expertise to help you recover as much damage as possible. Your attorney knows when to initiate the matter in court and communicate with insurance carriers. Their experience makes them equipped to expertly navigate your case, anticipating the results. Since they have experience in this area, they know what your case is worth and know how to help you secure that amount.

Access to Essential Resources

When you hire a dog bite attorney, you’re gaining valuable access to essential and valuable resources. Your legal team will work together to investigate and research your case as they gather evidence and determine if the dog owner was negligent or not. Your legal team will answer all your questions every step of the way, keeping you apprised of your claim’s status.

Obtain a Personal Advocate

Sustaining a dog bite injury or attack may leave you with injuries you’ll need to tend to. It’s difficult to also focus on a lawsuit, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Texas dog bite laws. But when you hire a dog bite attorney, you’re securing a personal advocate who works tirelessly to see you recover damages for your injuries. Your attorney will work to determine the extent of the at-fault party’s liability, along with the responsibilities shared by other parties. Other responsible parties (in addition to the dog’s owner) might include landlords if there’s a known dangerous animal on the premises and a minor’s parents if the dog’s owner is under 18 years of age. If the dangerous animal stays on someone else’s property, the property owners would also be involved, along with animal keeps such as dog watchers, shelter services, and the dog pound.

What Does Your Attorney Need from You?

As your attorney explains the entire legal process for your dog bite claim, you may be asked to provide them with the following:

  • A police report

  • Your testimony of the incident

  • Name and contact information for the dog’s owner(s)

  • Witness names and contact information, if applicable

  • Pictures of your injuries and the dog

  • Medical records following the dog attack

  • Copies of medical bills you may have incurred

Your dog bite attorney will help you every step of the way, ensuring you’re able to secure all documentation to help your case.

Choosing Whether to Settle or Go to Trial

Every dog bite case is different. While there is a deadline to file, there is no set amount of time a claim will take. While your attorney can offer advice on whether to accept an offer from the defendant’s attorney or insurance company, the decision is ultimately yours. You have to pay attention to your recovery. It may not be best to settle if you’re still not healed. At the very least, you need to have an estimate of any future medical bills before accepting a settlement. Before bringing your case to a courtroom, consider that doing so will take more time. During that time, your case expenses will rise through court fees and more attorney hours. A settlement can take place up until you step into the courtroom for the trial and sometimes even during the trial. But, if the dog’s owner, attorney, and insurance company are not willing to make or accept a reasonable offer, you may have no choice but to move forward.

When Are Dog Bite Settlements Reached?

A settlement might be offered at any time during the process. The settlement may be offered by the defendant or plaintiff. If no verdict has been reached and the case isn’t presented in a trial, a settlement can be offered. However, you want an experienced dog bite attorney to determine if the offer is adequate or not. Keep in mind that it’s common for a plaintiff’s attorney to come forward with a demand for compensation. The goal is to prevent the case from becoming tied up in court. It’s also common for the defendant’s attorney or their insurance provider to offer a settlement out of court. However, you may find that the offer is less than what you’re entitled to. You need a skilled attorney to negotiate the full amount your case is worth. You may also find that a settlement is offered during the mediation process. This follows the discovery period. In the majority of personal injury lawsuits, out-of-court settlements usually take place after the discovery period. This is especially true if it’s apparent that one party is liable for dog bite damages.

What Happens If No Settlement Is Reached?

Should no settlement be reached, your personal injury lawsuit will go to trial, although this is the less likely scenario. When lawsuits go to trial, it can take longer than if your attorney negotiates a settlement. Once in court, your case will be heard by a judge or jury of your peers. They’ll examine all the evidence in your case and decide what the best outcome is. You need a dog bite attorney with excellent reviews to represent you in court.

Factors That Affect The Duration of Your Dog Bite Trial

Should your dog bite lawsuit make its way to court, everything from the duration of your medical care to the amount of insurance available is taken into consideration. Each factor determines how long your dog bite court trial will take.

Medical Care Duration

Not every dog bite is easily treated. You may find that your injuries take a very long time to treat or that you have long-lasting damage. If you wait until you complete your medical treatment or receive an accurate prognosis, you’ll have a greater chance of securing full compensation for your injuries. If the full scope of your medical care costs is unknown, the defendant’s insurance company is likely to offer you an unfair settlement. Quick settlement offers while you’re recuperating may be an attempt to get you to settle before the full extent of your damages becomes clear.

Medical Insurance Available

Even if you have access to medical insurance and your bills are adequately paid for, your dog bite case won’t settle any faster. Since insurance companies know a jury verdict won’t be more than your policy limit. Because of this, there’s no pressure put on an insurance carrier to settle quickly. On the other hand, cases that have serious injuries and exorbitant costs may result in a jury verdict that’s higher than the amount of coverage available. This is when insurance companies are more likely to offer a fast settlement. It protects their insured homeowner and avoids the possible risk of them paying more than the policy limit due to their insurer’s negligence and lack of care.

Obvious Negligence

When negligence is obvious and apparent, then your case may settle faster. For example, if the owner knew their dog was aggressive or had a bite history and was allowed to run loose, then obvious negligence may expedite the case. But obvious negligence isn’t always the case. The dog’s owner might state that the victim provoked their dog, even if there’s no evidence to support their accusations. The owner might also claim that the victim was trespassing. Any allegations can delay when your claim will settle. If more and more evidence presents itself, the longer your case will take to settle. The more evidence presented, sometimes the harder it is to determine who was at fault and reach a settlement.

Is The Insurance Company Responsible?

It’s not uncommon for an insurance company to fight every case that comes its way. They also try to make payments well below what you deserve for your medical injuries and pain and suffering. When you deal with these insurance agencies, it can delay the negotiation process. You may have to file a lawsuit just to receive any dog bite compensation. Larger insurance companies are also more likely to drag out the entire settlement process, racking up your legal fees in the process.

Government Claims

Government claims are protected by broad immunity. It protects local and state governments and makes it hard for you to secure payment for your dog bite claim. An example is if you’re attacked by a dog while grinning in a public park. The local municipality would have protection from any claims. On the other hand, when a city or county owns a park, you may be able to recover damages if you sustained dog bite injuries as a result of the dog’s handler being negligent. Since governments have sovereign and official immunity, the odds are low that government claims will settle quickly.

Medicaid and Medicare

When Medicaid or Medicare steps in to pay some or all of your medical bills, you’ll most likely need to reimburse those payments. In short, a portion of your settlement needs to be put aside to pay those medical liens. Most of these liens are negotiable, but just having them causes a delay in receiving your settlement money.

Factors That Speed Up Your Dog Bite Claim

While your dog bite claim won’t have a definitive length of time until you settle, several factors may expedite your claim. Here are some examples.

Present Evidence Quickly

It’s essential to present evidence fast. This evidence needs to be strong evidence to support your claim. If you’re able to produce evidence proving that the dog’s owner is liable for the dog or attack, then you’ll have greater odds of settling your case fast. But what kind of evidence can expedite your case? For example, police reports can work to settle your claim quickly. In addition, you could provide any animal control reports that demonstrate the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or the owner violating local leash laws. If you have witness statements, these may also expedite your claim, along with pictures and videos of the scene of the attack and of your injuries. Any other relevant records you should provide to your lawyer. They’ll work with you to gather the most essential evidence to support your case.

Provide Your Records

It’s common for insurance agencies to hold off on offering a settlement offer until the dog bite victim provides all required medical bills, lost wages records, and any other records related to the dog bite claim. The sooner you provide medical records, the sooner your case may settle. Once the insurance adjuster receives this information, they have to request approval from their direct supervisors to settle this case. The larger your case is, the more documentation you’ll need to provide to support your claim.

The Insurance Company

Unfortunately, the insurance company responsible for settling your claim will play a deciding role in how long your claim takes to be paid out. Large, reputable insurance companies typically don’t delay the claims process and offer fair settlements. Keep in mind that they’ll still want to see all documentation and records before offering you a settlement amount.

Set a Case Reserve

Cases involving insurance companies have what’s known as a case reserve. This is a set amount of money that an insurance agency reserves for a claim’s payout, limited to the policy’s coverage amount. If your damages don’t exceed the policy limit, the insurance adjuster will put aside this designated case reserve to cover your costs. However, if the case reserve is too low, it may take longer to switch your case reserve amount to a level that the insurance provider can pay.
This is why you need to give the insurance adjuster as much information as possible, as discussed by you and your lawyer. The more information they have, the more likely they can set an accurate case reserve to settle your claim faster.

Large Expenses

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, there’s a chance your case will settle fast if your claim is clearly valued more than the amount of available insurance. When this happens, insurance agencies might pay the policy limit as early as when you’re in the process of receiving treatment for your dog bite injuries. When the victim’s attorney sends a time-limited demand, it lets the insurance company know that the claim will most likely exceed the policy limit. This usually results in an expedited offer for your claim.

Length to Receive Compensation After Settling Your Dog Bite Claim

If you settle your dog bite claim, you’re probably wondering how long it takes to receive compensation. Usually, you will receive payment as a lump-sum payment, or in periodic payments. Lump-sum payments are typically paid within 30 days after you agree on a settlement. Periodic payments are made monthly are semi-monthly until your payment has been paid to you in full. If the dog bite case involves minor children or any incapacitated adults, then those cases may require probable or even state approval. This may change the duration of time needed to receive settlement funds.

Hire a Houston Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury from a dog bite, then you need to contact a Houston dog bite attorney today. Always seek medical attention immediately following the dog bite, and be sure to follow up with the dog’s owners for contact information. You also need to determine the dog’s vaccination status, specifically rabies, or receive a preventative rabies vaccine as a precautionary measure. Dog bite injuries range in severity, but can cause physical and emotional trauma. That’s why you need the best dog bite lawyer in Houston. O’Hara Law Firm can help. Our highly trained legal team can help you receive maximum damages for your injuries, so contact us today

DOG BITE ATTORNEYS IN HOUSTON, TEXAS

Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year according to the CDC. Sadly, many of these dog bite victims are children. Medical bills are just the tip of the iceberg compared to the emotional and physical scars that our clients experience as the result of irresponsible dog owners. A person attacked by a dog may have a claim against the dog owner, landlord, property owner, homeowners association or other entity. Often, dog attack victims are unsure how to proceed after a dog bite.

Hire an Attorney Experienced with Dog Bite Cases

You should consult with an attorney who has experience handling dog bite cases. We have obtained compensation for many dog bite victims, including children, elderly, postal workers and delivery workers. Several other personal injury law firms refer dog bite injury clients to our team at the O’Hara Law Firm because of our experience representing dog bite victims.

We have aggressively represented numerous dog bite victims. Their injuries range from puncture wounds to life-threatening injuries with permanent, disabling impairment and disfigurement. The cases have resulted in compensation as high as one million dollars. People injured by dogs are often entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, disfigurement, impairment, lost wages, and mental anguish.

If you have been injured by a dog, contact us at the O’Hara Law Firm in Houston for a free consultation. We do not get paid unless you receive compensation. Learn about your options today.

SAMPLE CASE RESULTS:

$1 MILLION SETTLEMENT – NEARLY KILLED BY TWO DOGS

The dog bite victim spent several weeks in the ICU after he was attacked by two large dogs that escaped from their yard. The dogs had bitten multiple people in the past before attacking our client. The dog bite inflicted wounds caused permanent injury to one of his eyes. (attorneys’ fees & case expenses of $333,714)

$1 MILLION INSURANCE POLICY LIMIT SETTLEMENT – KILLED BY PACK OF DOGS

A pack of dogs killed a woman. The dogs had shown signs of aggression in the past while running loose. The dog owner had a history of allowing the dogs to escape from his property. (attorneys’ fees $333,333)

$675,000 SETTLEMENT – PERMANENT NERVE DAMAGE IN ARM

The dog bite victim was attacked by a pit bull while walking her own dog. The HOA defendant failed to repair a hole in a fence that allowed the aggressive dog to escape and attack the woman. The woman underwent several surgeries to treat injuries sustained in the attack. (attorneys’ fees & case expenses of $242,039)

$300,000 SETTLEMENT – NERVE DAMAGE

A large dog attacked the victim. The dog bite caused nerve damage that required extensive medical treatment. (attorneys’ fees and case expenses total $100,433.88)

$200,000 SETTLEMENT – SCARS ON ARM AND HIP

A large dog attacked a teenager at a party. The teenager received stitches. She has scars on her arm and hip as a result of the attack. (attorneys’ fees & case expenses of $67,182)

$150,000 SETTLEMENT – HAND SURGERY

The dog bite victim was attacked by a large dog while walking his own dog. The trailer park defendant allowed the large dog owner to break the rules regarding leaving a dog unattended outside despite multiple complaints about the dog. The man underwent hand surgery to treat his dog bite wound. (attorneys’ fees & case expenses of $53,976)

HIRE AN EXPERIENCED DOG BITE ATTORNEY

Common Issues and Topics

  1. Below are some common issues and topics relating to dog bite claims.

  2. Steps to Take after a Dog Bite
  3. Medical Treatment for a Dog Bite
  4. Dog Bite Injuries
  5. Most Common Dog Bite Victims
  6. Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite?
  7. Texas Dog Bite Laws
  8. Most Dangerous Breeds
  9. Defenses a Dog Owner may Assert
  10. How to Prevent a Dog Bite

Steps to Take after a Dog Bite

If you have been injured by a dog, there are several important steps to take after the attack has ended. First, obtain the names and contact information for the dog owner and any witnesses who observed the attack. Second, take pictures of the dog and your wounds. It is not uncommon for dog owners to attempt to claim a different dog attacked the victim. You will also want to keep evidence of what your wounds looked like prior to receiving medical treatment. Third, seek medical attention. Even if the wound is not severe, you may need a rabies and tetanus shot. When you receive medical attention, do not lie on behalf of the dog owner and claim you do not know who owns the dog. This statement may be used against you by the dog owner’s insurance company if you seek compensation later. Fourth, contact an attorney that has experience handling dog bite claims. An insurance adjuster will likely attempt to settle with you for less than what your claim is worth.

Medical Treatment for a Dog Bite

Approximately 800,000 people seek medical care for dog bites every year. Medical treatment for dog bites varies depending on the severity of the injury. The most common injury from a dog bite is a puncture wound with some scarring. A medical professional will clean the wound and administer a tetanus shot and/or rabies shot depending upon when the victim last received a tetanus shot and the vaccination history of the dog. Most puncture wounds are not stitched because of an increased risk of infection. However, if the wound is very deep, the doctor may have to stitch the wound to stop bleeding. More severe dog bite injuries include torn muscles, broken bones, lost appendages, deformity, nerve damage, and even death. When these sad situations occur, the victim undergoes surgery, rehabilitation, and other medical procedures. At the O’Hara Law Firm, our team has represented dog bite victims placed in intensive care and who have undergone multiple surgeries as a result of dog attacks. We have helped dog bite victims find medical providers for treatment.

Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries include more than just medical bills for medical treatment. Dog bite victims often have claims for lost wages, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, impairment, and emotional distress. After medical treatment has concluded, the victim often has a permanent scar that serves as a painful reminder of the experience. Often, the medical bills are only a small portion of the claimant’s damages.

Most Common Dog Bite Victims

Children and the elderly are the most common victims of dog attacks. The rate of dog bite attacks on children is highest between the ages of five and nine. Children often have future medical needs as a result of dog attacks. Often, children will need future cosmetic surgery to reduce scarring or disfigurement. Our team helps parents understand the care their child may need in regard to future medical treatment. We can also help you find a medical provider if you have difficulty locating a medical provider that will treat you or your child. Postal workers are often attacked by dogs as well because of the nature of their work.

Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite?

The dog owner is the first person that most people think of when considering who is responsible for a dog attack. If the dog owner was negligent or violated a leash law or ordinance, the owner has responsibility for the attack. If the owner knew the dog was aggressive prior to the attack, he is liable for the attack. However, depending upon the circumstances, the dog owner may not be the only person liable for the dog bite. Landlords, property owners, homeowner associations, and other entities may be liable for an attack if they were negligent or had prior knowledge about the dangerous nature of the dog.

Our attorneys will answer questions you may have regarding responsibility and the judicial system. Texas Dog Bite Laws

COMMON LAW – FIRST BITE IS FREE

Texas follows the common law principle that a victim of a dog bite may recover compensation from the owner or keeper of a dog if: (1) the dog previously bit a person or showed aggression towards a person; and (2) the owner or keeper of the dog was aware of the dog’s conduct prior to biting the victim. This doctrine is grounds for recovery if both elements are met.

A victim may also pursue a claim against an owner or handler of a dog if the person was negligent, failed to use ordinary care. Even if the dog has never bitten before, an owner may be found responsible for the attack if the dog owner was negligent. An example of negligent behavior would be allowing a newly adopted dog to play with young children unsupervised. Under a negligence theory, it is not necessary to prove that the dog bit someone else in the past or exhibited aggressive behavior.

DANGEROUS DOG

Texas Health and Safety Code have government procedures for declaring a dog a “dangerous dog.” A “dangerous dog” is a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept. If a dog is declared a “dangerous dog,” the owner must carry $100,000 of liability insurance, and it is easy for a victim to prove liability if the dog was already declared dangerous before the attack.

COMMON LAW – FIRST BITE IS FREE

The dog bite victim was attacked by a large dog while walking his own dog. The trailer park defendant allowed the large dog owner to break the rules regarding leaving a dog unattended outside despite multiple complaints about the dog. The man underwent hand surgery to treat his dog bite wound. (attorneys’ fees & case expenses of $53,976)

DANGEROUS DOG

Texas Health and Safety Code have government procedures for declaring a dog a “dangerous dog.” A “dangerous dog” is a dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept. If a dog is declared a “dangerous dog,” the owner must carry $100,000 of liability insurance, and it is easy for a victim to prove liability if the dog was already declared dangerous before the attack.

LEASH LAWS

Counties and cities across Texas have their own laws regarding restraining and leashing pets. If a dog is unrestrained and bites someone in a jurisdiction that requires a dog to be leashed, the victim may sue the dog owner or person in charge of the dog under the theory of negligence per se. The dog owner violated a Texas statute that was designed to prevent harm to citizens from dogs roaming unrestrained.

Most Dangerous Breeds

All breeds of dogs bite. However, some breeds are more prone to aggression than others. A Chihuahua is just as likely to attack you and your dog as a Pit Bull. However, Pit Bulls are considered more dangerous than Chihuahuas because they often inflict more damage when they attack due to their large size. The breeds that are most prone to bite and inflict serious injury are Rottweilers, Wolf-hybrids and Pit Bulls. There are other factors that increase the risk of attack besides breed.

An unneutered male dog is six times as likely to attack as a neutered male. Socialization and training play a large part in determining whether a dog will exhibit aggressive behavior.

Defenses a Defendant may Assert to a Dog Bite Claim

Many dog owners will claim that they were not aware that the dog was aggressive prior to the dog attacking the victim. If the dog owner was not aware that the dog was dangerous or aggressive prior to the attack, an element of the strict liability claim is not met. However, the victim still may assert negligence against the dog owner.

Trespassing is a defense to dog bite claims. Owners are permitted to have a guard dog protect their property from criminals and trespassers. The dog still would need to be restrained on the property. This defense is invalid if the person attacked was permitted on the property.

Another common defense is that the dog was provoked by the person bit. If someone is antagonizing the dog or attempting to hurt it, a jury will likely hold the person bit responsible for the dog’s behavior. However, this defense does not work well if a child is bit because a child may not understand or know better. The dog owner should not allow a child to interact with the dog unsupervised.

Defenses a Defendant may Assert to a Dog Bite Claim

There are several simple rules that one should follow in order to reduce the risk of a dog attack.

  • Always ask for permission before petting someone else’s dog.
  • When approached by an unfamiliar dog, do not run. Tell the dog “go home” in a strong voice.
  • Do not disturb a dog while it is sleeping or caring for puppies.
  • Do not allow small children to play with a dog unsupervised.


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