If you are the victim of a dog bite, you may sustain injuries that cause you to suffer physically, emotionally, or financially. Texas law regarding dog bites can be complex. Allow a skilled personal injury lawyer in Houston to give you the legal guidance you need when you’ve been bitten by a dog.
Dog Bites Are Possible
Dogs are part of the family in over 43 percent of Texas households. While most dogs will never bite, some do. With more than seven million dogs living in our state, dog bites are unfortunately common in Texas.
If you suffer a bite from a dog in Houston, an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you decide if it’s time to file a dog bite claim. Protect yourself with an experienced professional attorney.
Likelihood of Receiving a Dog Bite in Texas
Each year Texas ranks at or near the top of the list of the number of dog bite injuries in the United States. Houston is typically at or among the top cities in Texas with incidences. Some individuals and groups are more likely than others to be bitten.
Who Is Likely to Be Bitten?
Children are the recipients of about half of dog bites. Elderly people make up the next largest group. Men are more likely to be bitten than women, and people who have dogs in their homes are more likely to be bitten than people who don’t.
Postal carriers are frequently outdoors in the presence of animals. Houston postal carriers are particularly more likely to be the victims of dog bites than in other parts of the United States. Houston ranks nationally at or very near the top of the number of dog bites to postal carriers.
Physical Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks, the most common animal attack, can lead to a variety of different injuries. Many of these injuries cause physical harm or damage.
Some of the common dog bite injuries are:
- Abrasions – surface injuries like scrapes and grazes
- Avulsion – tearing or ripping off a body part
- Infections – from bacteria in the dog’s mouth or if a dog injury gets infected
- Lacerations – deep tears or cuts
- Nerve damage – damaging or severing a nerve that leads to impairment
- Punctures – piercing of the skin by a dog’s teeth
- Rabies – a serious viral disease from an infected animal
- Scarring – potential aftermath of healing from dog bite injuries
If you experience any of these dog bite injuries that cause personal injury, contact an expert dog attack lawyer for assistance and advice.
Fatal Dog Bite Attacks
Sadly, some victims of dog bites suffer the worst possible outcome: a fatal injury from a dog attack. Like any animal attack, fatal dog attacks are very rare. However, they can happen.
If the worst happens and a dog attack results in death, a dog bite injury lawyer can help the victim’s loved ones determine dog bite liability.
Emotional Suffering Resulting from Dog Attacks
Physical consequences aside, the mental and emotional suffering of victims following dog attacks can be considerable. While these injuries may not be as visible as physical injuries, they can be just as life-altering.
Dog attack victims may develop severe anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression after a dog bite. A dog bite victim also frequently develops post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in the aftermath of the bite. This can cause the victim to fear dogs or even be afraid to leave the home to go outside.
Monetary Damages of Dog Bite Victims
Beyond the physical and emotional consequences of dog bites, dog bite victims can incur tremendous monetary costs. Dog bite injuries can lead to expensive medical treatment, lost wages, insurance, and workmen’s compensation claim costs.
Be sure to contact a dog bite lawyer to help you as soon as you possibly can when you’re involved in a dog bite incident. An experienced dog bite attorney will help you determine whether you can file dog bite claims to recoup the money you’ve lost.
What To Do First After a Dog Bites
If a dog bites you, it is important to begin gathering evidence immediately in the event you end up filing a dog bite case. Evidence can become very important after the fact. Be sure to collect it just as soon as the incident occurs.
Gather Contact Information
Get the contact information of the dog’s owner, if available, and any witnesses present. When determining animal bite liability, it could be important to your case in the future for your dog bite lawyers to talk to others who saw the dog attack and the dog owner. If a dog has a known previous history of having vicious tendencies, or has a prior history of biting others, it can increase the value of your claim.
Collect all of the parties’ full names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses, and keep them in a safe place for your Houston dog bite lawyer.
Take photos of the dog, the dog bite injury or injuries, and the scene of the incident. Also, take photos of anything that seems amiss, like a broken fence, missing leash, or open dog pen.
Photographic evidence can be an important part of any future legal case. Protect yourself with photos of everything that could possibly pertain to the incident.
Get Medical Attention Right Away
If you’ve been injured in a Texas dog bite incident, seek medical attention for the injury. Even if you think the bite is minor, it may be important to any future legal case that you are able to produce medical bills showing you were seen or treated for an injury. If you file a claim with your insurance company, keep a record of that as well.
Consult an expert Houston dog bite legal team to determine if you can file a claim for compensation for medical care you may receive after a bite.
Contact a Houston Dog Bite Attorney
Your next step is to contact a dog bite lawyer. Hire an experienced dog bite attorney team to work for you. They know all the Texas dog bite laws and can help you understand the nuances of dog bite cases.
If a dog attacked you, don’t try to do your own research into the law. Dog bite lawsuits can be complex, so contact a dog bite lawyer for a free consultation.
Texas Canine Bite Laws
Texas does not have a civil statute that specifically covers a dog owner’s liability for dog attack injuries caused by their aggressive dog. State law does not specifically lay out the consequences when injuries result from dog bites.
The One-Bite Law
Instead of a specific law that names a penalty for the owner of an animal who bites a victim, Texas is one of a handful of states who has something called the one-bite rule or free-bite rule.
A 1974 Texas Supreme Court case, Marshall vs. Ranne, originally determined this rule. The one-bite rule basically says that once an animal exhibits aggressive behavior, its owner is put on notice that he or she could be considered a negligent dog owner should the animal attack again.
What Is Considered a Dangerous Dog?
In Texas law, a dangerous dog is one who:
- Causes bodily injury due to an unprovoked attack, and
- Attacks, unprovoked, in a place other than the dog’s secure enclosure
Once unprovoked dogs bite someone outside of the animal’s secure enclosure, a dog is considered to have used its “one bite.”
Proving Liability in an Animal Bite Case
In Texas law, essentially it is up to the dog bite victim to prove that the dog owner violated the one dog bite law by not properly ensuring that their dangerous dog was properly secured.
Three things must be successfully proven by a plaintiff in a dog bite lawsuit:
- The dog owner knew the dog was a dangerous dog because it bit someone or acted aggressively in the past
- The dog owner had not reasonably tried to control the dog’s behavior, and
- Because the dog owner failed at the duty to control the dog, a person was injured.
Dog Bite Victims Must Prove Negligence
In order to prove that the above three conditions are true, the injured person must prove that the dog biting them was a previous offender. They must prove the dog’s owner had not done everything possible to prevent a dog bite injury from a dog who had previously caused personal injury or been aggressive.
This circumstance can be very difficult to prove. Allow a Houston animal bite attorney at an experienced law firm, an expert in dog bite laws, to guide you in proving negligence.
Evidence of Previous Dog Attacks or Aggression
It can be difficult to prove dog bite liability in dog bite cases. Your personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite injury cases can help find evidence the pet owner allowed serious injuries to occur.
A negligent pet owner is not likely to be forthcoming about the fact that their dog bites. However, dog bite lawyers can talk to local animal control, get witness statements, and get testimony from experts in dog bites. A Houston dog bite lawyer will help you discover the truth.
Exceptions to the One-Bite Rule
Negligence on the part of dog owners can still exist even if the dog owners have not had their dog bite someone in the past. Certain dangerous dog breeds and some conditions in which dog owners do not properly control their pets can allow a dog bite lawyer to help you file a lawsuit.
Breeds of Aggressive Dogs
Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls and German shepherds, are considered more dangerous because they have been involved in severe dog attacks or are more likely, according to dog bite statistics, to be aggressive dogs who cause personal injury.
Your Houston dog bite lawyers can help you determine whether a certain breed, such as a pit bull, is considered more likely to be a vicious dog. A bite from a pit bull or other legally dangerous breed may not be protected under the one-bite rule.
Houston dog bite lawyers can also investigate whether a Houston dog owner failed to properly keep his or her dog secure. Houston is one of several cities in Texas that have leash laws that require a dog owner to leash, muzzle, or restrain their dogs in public settings.
In allowing a dog to roam free, a Houston dog owner could be violating the law. A Houston dog bite lawyer will work with you to determine if a dog’s owner allowed dog bites by not obeying leash laws.
When A Dog’s Owner Is the Plaintiff
When a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner could be faced with a personal injury lawsuit. Few people want to admit their animal harmed someone, so recovering compensation for lost wages, medical treatment, and other expenses can be difficult.
An aggressive dog’s owner may claim the dog had never previously harmed anyone or that you were provoking the animal or trespassing on their property. Consult a dog bite lawyer experienced in Houston dog bite injuries to navigate the law for you.
Denial of Knowledge
Again, it is up to the plaintiff in a Houston dog bite case to prove that their personal injury resulting from a bite was due to negligence on the part of the owner. As a plaintiff, you must prove that the dog had already used its “one bite” and is a dangerous animal.
The owner might claim that he or she didn’t know the dog had ever injured anyone. They may even claim that their animal would never do such a thing. A Texas dog bite attorney can help you collect evidence to prove your case.
A dog owner plaintiff may claim that the victim acted in a way that provoked their animal to attack. If they are able to prove this, the victim may not be able to get compensation for medical bills or any other expenses relating to the bite.
Typically this particular circumstance does not apply to young children who may not know better, even if a plaintiff is able to prove that the young victim provoked their animal. Capable Houston dog bite legal experts can assist you with navigating issues like these.
If a Texas dog bite recipient was on the dog owner’s property illegally, the owner may claim the victim was trespassing and not a victim of the owner’s poor animal control. This could keep the dog owner from being liable for any personal injury.
A qualified personal injury attorney can do the investigation necessary to determine whether a claim of trespassing is valid. Work with a qualified Houston dog bite lawyer for best results.
Statute of Limitations
In Texas, if you sustain an injury after a canine bite, you have a limit of two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Time is of the essence, so don’t delay in calling qualified attorneys for help.
Houston Dog Bite Attorneys Will Fight For You
Dog bite victims will likely have many questions when it comes to whether they can receive compensation from the animal’s owner, an insurance company, or any other source.
Determining the liability of animal injuries from canines or any other animals can be complicated and emotionally fraught. Get a team of experts on your side.
Protect Yourself Today
Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC at 936-251-5246 today for a free consultation to discuss a dog bite or any other animal injury you have received. Our expert legal team will work with you, so you receive the compensation you deserve. We represent victims and fight for you with compassion, integrity, and expertise.