Americans are a nation of dog lovers, and most are responsible pet 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.
- Approximately 65 million dogs live in the United States.
- A dog bites takes place every 75 seconds in the United States.
- More than 1,000 Americans per day require emergency medical treatment for dog bite injuries.
- A total of 42 people in the United States were killed by dogs in 2014.
- One-sixth of the fatalities were children.
- Pit bulls make up roughly 6 percent of the nations dog population but cause 64 percent of the fatalities.
- Women, especially those over age 50, are at a higher risk from dog attacks.
- In 2014, 40 percent of all fatal dog attacks were by unleashed dogs and occurred somewhere other than the owner’s property.
- Dog attack victims suffer between $1 billion and $2 billion in monetary losses every year, but only a small percentage of victims pursue compensation.
- Dog bite claims comprise more than a third of all claims against homeowners’ insurance carriers every year.
- The average legal settlement in dog bite actions nationwide is between $26,000 and $30,000.
- One of the nation’s larger homeowners’ insurance companies paid out in excess of $136 million dollars on nearly 4,500 dog bite claims in one recent year.
- The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is $18,200, which is approximately 50 percent more than the average hospital stay for other injuries, according to a 2010 study.
Dog Bites in Texas
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 dog bite 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.
How the “One Bite Rule” Can Affect Your Texas Dog Bite Case
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 owner knew or had reason to know that the dog had a tendency to bite. If the dog had bitten someone previously, or if it has demonstrated aggressive tendencies, then the owner will have to pay for a bite victim’s injuries.
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. To prove negligence requires demonstrating the following:
- That the dog’s owner knew the animal had bitten someone before or had acted aggressively in the past, or
- That the dog’s owner was negligent in controlling the animal and preventing you being bitten, and
- That as a direct result of that negligence, you suffered real, demonstrable damages.
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 a Texas dog bite lawyer who knows the state’s law and has 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.
What to Do when You’ve Been Bitten
- Have a doctor treat the injury immediately. Not only is this important to avoid an infection, your medical records will document the injury and provide proof that the attack occurred, that you were injured, and that you incurred costs for treatment.
- Call Animal Control to report the bite. They will notify the dog’s owner and write up a report of the incident. When you present your claim, this report will provide an official record of the bite and the circumstances under which it occurred. The animal control officer will require the dog’s owner to produce proof that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies. A dog whose vaccination is not current will have to be quarantined for ten days to ensure that it is not rabid.
- Take photos of the bites. Get pictures when the wound is new, and also at various stages of the healing process.
- If there were witnesses to the attack, get their contact information.
- Consult with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney who has successfully handled dog bite injuries, and who understands how the dog bite laws in Texas work and what is needed to prove the owner’s negligence.
- Avoid interacting with the claims adjuster for the dog owner’s insurance company. Do not give a statement and do not sign anything. To do so could compromise your case.
Why You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer
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 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 a lawyer.
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.
Potential Damages You May Claim in a Dog Attack Case
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:
- Medical expenses
- Cost of rehabilitation or reconstructive surgery
- Cost of assistive devices, such as crutches or braces
- Cost of psychological counseling
- Lost earnings
- Other out of pocket expenses related to the injury
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:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional suffering
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
- Disfigurement and disability
Specialized Legal Assistance for Dog Attacks in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Area
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:
- Fourteen years of experience
- Texas Board of Legal Specialization Certification as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
- Perfect 10 out of 10 AVVO rating
- Membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- More than 50 jury verdicts
- We focus our practice only on personal injury casesly
- Results-oriented and client-centered practice where your needs come first
Free Consultations Available
Call the law offices of Aaron Herbert any hour of the day or night. It is important to act quickly to protect your right to a recovery because:
- Legal time limits restrict the amount of time you have to file a claim.
- Evidence and witnesses may disappear over time, making it more difficult to prove your case.
Your initial consultation is 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.