Americans are a nation of dog lovers, and most are responsible dog owners. While we often view pets as part of the family, it is important not to lose site of the fact that dogs are animals and must be trained, socialized, and sometimes restrained for the safety of others. Dogs can be unpredictable and territorial, and any dog can bite. Any dog, regardless of its great temperament, should be carefully supervised around children, restrained when the postman, and trades people are due to arrive, and carefully introduced to people with whom they are not familiar. When off the home property, every dog should be on a leash.
Biting dogs are a problem in Texas—even more so than in other states: State Farm Insurance, a company that writes homeowners’ insurance policies, reports that Texas is number three in the nation in the amount of compensation they paid to animal attack victims in 2012.
Even worse, in 2014, Texas led the nation in the number of deaths from dog attacks, with seven dog bite fatalities, of which six were caused by pit bulls. In spite of these numbers, Texas does not have any breed specific legislation in place regarding pit bulls or the second most likely breed to kill, Rottweilers.
Texas has a “one bite” rule, which means the owner of a dog that has bitten someone is liable for the victim’s injuries if the dog owner knew or had reason to know that the dog had a tendency to bite. If the animal attacked or had bitten someone previously, or if it has demonstrated aggressive tendencies, then the dog owner will have to pay for claims of bodily injury and medical care of the victim.
As with other Texas personal injury cases, you will need to show that the bite was the result of the owner or other party’s negligence. Experienced Dallas dog bite attorneys can assist in proving negligence in dog bite injury cases. To prove negligence requires demonstrating the following:
Dog bite cases are more difficult in Texas than in many other states, which apply the doctrine of “strict liability” to dog attacks, making it unnecessary to demonstrate negligence or prior knowledge of the animal’s propensity to bite in order to hold the owner liable. For the best results, you should work with Texas dog bite lawyers who know the state’s law and have significant experience in proving this type of case, preferably one who is board certified as a Personal Injury Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Dog bites claims are usually paid by the homeowner’s insurance company that covers the dog’s owner. An insurance adjuster will contact you. Expect the adjuster to advise you that you don’t need a dog bite lawyer. The advice is self-serving, because the adjuster’s goal is to save money for the company by avoiding a significant payout. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to persuade dog bite victims not to hire dog bite lawyers, which can limit a victim’s legal options.
If you want to receive a fair amount of compensation for all of your injuries, leave the negotiations to an expert—a Texas Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer. The insurance company knows that if they don’t make a reasonable settlement offer, the attorney will take the case to court, and expensive process that insurers like to avoid. Studies have shown that those with quality legal representation typically receive as much as triple the amount of the recoveries of those who deal with insurance companies themselves. Don’t make a potentially costly mistake. Refer the adjuster to your attorney.
A vicious dog can do serious bodily harm, requiring plastic and reconstructive surgery. But aside from the physical pain, suffering, and disfiguration resulting from an attack, many dog bite victim are left with lasting psychological scars, including phobias, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As with other Texas personal injury cases, you may claim both economic damages and non-economic ones. Economic damages include:
These expenses can be documented by producing medical bills, receipts, and employment records.
Non-economic or “general” damages are trickier. They can’t be proven by producing any particular hard evidence. Because these are the damages that have affected your quality of life, they are subjective, and different for every victim. For example, if you love to play baseball and your arm was mangled by a dog, this would have a serious affect on your quality of live, whereas if your free time was mostly spent reading, the effect might be less. Basically, these are the types of non-economic damages you may claim:
In general, the severity of your dog bite injuries will determine the value of your case. The Texas courts place a greater monetary value on cases involving catastrophic injuries or injuries that will stay with the victim for life, such as permanent disfigurement. Work with our attorneys to help maximize your financial settlement or jury verdict. While we cannot guarantee positive results, we can promise our hard-working lawyers will do everything possible to help you recover.
If you believe you are eligible for damages after a serious dog attack in Dallas, do not wait to seek financial restitution. Waiting too long could mean forfeiting the option of seeking recovery altogether. Like all states, Texas has statutes of limitations that control how much time you have to file. Failing to meet your statute of limitations generally means losing the right to file. The civil courts only allow rare exceptions to the rule.
You have two years from the date of your personal injury to file a dog bite claim in the State of Texas. The clock will start ticking on the date of the dog attack unless you notice your injuries or damages later. If a loved one died in a dog attack, you have two years from the date of his or her death to bring your wrongful death claim. Exceptions exist if the victim is a minor under the age of 18 or if the defendant is also facing criminal charges for the same incident. In the event of a crime, the clock may not start ticking until the completion of a criminal case.
Pursuing compensation from a pet owner often involves homeowners insurance to cover the damages. The pet owner’s insurance provider could cover a settlement or verdict award since a pet is technically property in Texas. Homeowners or renters insurance companies will pay for dog attacks in most situations. In a case where the pet owner is uninsured, however, it may not be as easy to obtain compensation for your damages.
If you discover the owner of the pet that attacked you or a loved one does not have enough insurance coverage, or any coverage at all, your first option will be to hold the pet owner personally liable for your expenses. You may continue with an insurance claim or lawsuit and force the owner to pay out of pocket. The pet owner may have the funds to repay you for your damages in a lump sum, or else the courts may work out a payment arrangement.
If paying out of pocket is not possible for the pet owner (or he or she declares bankruptcy), hire an attorney to search for other potential parties responsible for the attack. For example, the owner of the property where the attack occurred might bear fault for failing to maintain a safe premises. Finding another defendant to take your claim could give you additional opportunities to obtain fair compensation. Aaron A. Herbert and his team can investigate your dog attack case for signs of a third party’s fault if the pet owner is uninsured.
If you or a family member suffered a dog bite injury in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area or anywhere in the state, your first choice when looking for an attorney to represent you should be the law firm of attorney Aaron Herbert. Here are a few reasons you should hire Attorney Aaron A. Herbert: Firm:
Call the law offices of Aaron Herbert any hour of the day or night if you or a loved one has experienced bodily injury harm from a dog. It is important to act quickly to protect your right to a recovery because:
Your initial consultation with our Dallas dog bite attorneys are always free, and if you can’t make it to our office, one of our representatives will come to you—anywhere in the State of Texas.
If you’re worried that you can’t afford a top-rated lawyer, don’t be.