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

dog bite lawyer

The National Average Dog Bite Settlement

The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average insurance payout for a dog bite claim nationwide is $64,555. The average payout in Texas per dog bite claim is $59,925. Illinois has the highest average cost per claim at $73,797. The O’Hara Law Firm’s average dog bite settlement amount is above the national average and Texas average. A dog bite settlement amount varies greatly depending on several factors discussed below.

Liability

In order to have a successful claim, the dog bite victim must prove the defendant is liable. Texas follows the “one free bite rule.” This means that if a dog has never bitten before or shown aggression, the owner cannot be held strictly liable for the bite. If the dog is properly restrained on the dog owner’s property when the bite occurs with no prior history of aggression, the victim likely will not have a recoverable claim under strict liability.

A victim might be able to recover against the dog owner with no prior history of aggression under another theory of negligence per se. If the dog runs free in violation of a city or county leash law when it bites the victim, the victim likely will have a valid negligence per se claim against the dog owner. The stronger the liability the theory, the more likely the insurance carrier will pay the full value of the damages. 

Damages

The more significant the injury, the higher value of the claim. The dog bite victim may seek compensation for medical bills and lost income. However, medical bills and lost income are a small portion of the total damage model in comparison to pain and suffering, disfigurement and impairment. A victim may seek compensation for permanent scarring as a result of the attack. The more visible the scar, the higher the value. Thus, a scar on the face is much more significant than a scar on the foot or buttock. The O’Hara Law Firm has settled cases for $300,000 with less than $5,000 in medical bills.

The age of the victim is also important. Sadly, children are disproportionately victims of dog bite attacks. A child with a scar on the face has a greater loss than an elderly man. Similarly, a scar on a young lady’s face is more serious than a scar on an elderly man’s face. 

Insurance

The policy limits of the defendant’s insurance policy may limit recovery. Many people do not have sufficient means to pay a large judgment. Thus, a large judgment is uncollectible against most people. Therefore, the insurance policy is usually the only means to recover a judgment. Most homeowner’s insurance policies have coverage amounts of $100,000 or $300,000. If the dog bite victim’s claim is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, she might be able to only collect $100,000 if that is the policy limit. 

Some homeowner’s insurance policies exclude “dangerous breeds” or exclude all dog bites. If you are a dog owner, it is important to read your insurance policy and make sure you are covered if your dog bites. 

Contact the O’Hara Law Firm today if you have been seriously injured by a dog attack.

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