If you’re attacked by an aggressive dog in south Texas, you must try to obtain the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses, seek medical treatment immediately, adhere to your doctor’s advice, and consult – at once – with an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney.
What are your rights if you are attacked by someone else’s dog? Can you receive compensation from the dog’s owner? What does the law say?
WHAT CAN BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DOG BITE?
Dog bites cause rabies, staph infections, disfigurement, and tissue and muscle injuries. If the dog shows rabies symptoms or cannot be located, a doctor may order rabies vaccinations. Some dog bites require skin grafting or other kinds of reconstructive surgery.
Each year in our nation, over four million dog bites are reported. Dog bites were the cause of 34 fatalities in the U.S. in 2015.
Usually, a dog’s owner is liable for injuries caused by a dog. Sometimes, however, a person other than the owner – someone else with “control over” a dog – may be found liable.
OTHER THAN A DOG’S OWNER, WHO MAY HAVE LIABILITY FOR A DOG BITE?
If the dog owner is below age 18, for instance, his or her parents may be legally responsible. A landlord who knows that a tenant’s dog is dangerous may also be accountable in some cases. Anyone who “keeps” or “harbors” a dog in Texas is liable if the dog injures someone.
Once you’ve received medical treatment, legal considerations are a priority after a dog attack. If you are bitten by a dog in south Texas, an Edinburg personal injury attorney can discuss your rights, determine if you have a personal injury claim, and determine who should be held liable.
Your injury lawyer will also explain the Texas dog bite laws and how those laws will apply in your own personal injury case. If you take legal action, your lawyer will aggressively fight for complete compensation for your medical expenses and all related damages.
Dog owners in Texas should become familiar with state laws and with local ordinances regarding dogs and their owners. If you are a dog owner, you also need to know if your homeowner’s insurance policy provides coverage if your dog injures someone and you are deemed liable.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR A LAWSUIT ARISING FROM AN ANIMAL ATTACK?
The “one bite” doctrine is recognized is by the civil courts in Texas and several other states. The doctrine is that liability for a dog bite should fall on the dog owner only if he or she knew that the dog had aggressive traits. The rule is applied to any injury caused by a “domestic” animal.
A dog bite injury victim in Texas may file a lawsuit based on the one bite doctrine if the dog owner was aware of previous bites or other aggressive behavior by the dog. A dog owner without that knowledge may alternatively be sued by a Texas dog bite victim on the basis of negligence.
Sadly, the most frequent victims of dog bites are small children. The elderly are also frequent dog bite victims. For some victims, recovering from a dog attack takes months and may require multiple surgeries and long-term therapy.
And bites aren’t the only way that an aggressive dog can injure you. Dog scratches are easily infected and may require stitches or even cosmetic surgery. Dogs can knock over people, trip people, and run into people, causing falls, sprains, broken bones, and even more serious injuries.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM AGGRESSIVE DOGS?
Most dogs provide warning signals when they’re about to bite a person. Knowing those signals can protect you from being seriously injured. A dog may bare its teeth, growl menacingly, and/or bark angrily. Its body may go rigid, and hackles may stand on the dog’s neck and back.
But not all dogs will exhibit warning signals before they attack. Here are the rules you should teach your children and remember for yourself whenever you encounter a dog for the first time:
Don’t try to pet or touch the dog.
Don’t approach the animal or make eye contact.
Stay quiet and still. Do not run or scream.
IF A DOG BITES, WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
In Texas, if you are bitten by a dog while you are trespassing on private property, committing a criminal offense, or provoking the dog, you’ll probably have no legal ability to bring a lawsuit or to recover any compensation for your injuries.
If a dog bites you, seek medical treatment immediately. Dog bites are infected easily, and untreated bites can become severe medical conditions quite rapidly.
After a dog bite, a personal injury lawyer with experience in dog bite cases can work to help you obtain compensation for your medical expenses, compensation for your lost wages, and in many cases, compensation for your personal pain and suffering.
IF A DOG BITES, WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE?
If you become a dog bite victim, make and keep copies of the medical, legal, and insurance documents that are generated. Do not accept a quick insurance settlement or even speak with an insurance company representative before obtaining advice from a reliable personal injury lawyer.
Most dog bite cases in Texas are settled privately and out-of-court. However, if a settlement with a biting dog’s owner cannot be negotiated, your attorney may recommend taking your case to trial and asking a jury to order the dog’s owner to compensate you fairly and comprehensively.
The state of Texas has set a two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits – meaning that you have two years from the date of the injury to take legal action – but you must not wait two years after a dog attack and then scramble to file a lawsuit at the last minute.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM?
Don’t wait two years or even two weeks. In south Texas, if you are injured by an aggressive dog, take your case immediately to a personal injury attorney. A good injury attorney will explain your rights and provide candid, reliable legal advice.
Your first consultation with a personal injury lawyer is free. If you and your attorney move forward with a personal injury claim, no attorney’s fee is required until your attorney obtains a settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
If you become a dog bite victim in this state, Texas law will be on your side. Get the legal help you need, contact a reliable personal injury lawyer at once, and put the law to work for you. That is your right.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.