Many dog bite injuries are minor and require only a quick cleaning at the emergency room. Unfortunately, though, more vicious dog attacks often result in severe injuries. Victims may require stitches, surgery, or even a series of plastic surgery procedures in the future to minimize scarring. The costs of treating this type of wound can add up quickly. You may be able to file a claim based on the dog owner’s insurance to recover compensation to pay your medical bills and cover lost wages.
If you suffered bite wounds in an attack by another person’s dog, the lawyers at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, can help you understand your legal options for compensation from the animal’s owner. It can be difficult in Texas to hold an owner responsible for their dog’s aggressive behavior, but we can explain how state laws apply to your case. We are here to help you get the money you need to cover your losses. Call us today at 855-776-5299 to schedule a free case evaluation with a dog bite lawyer in Houston.
What Laws Regulate Texas Dog Bite Cases?
Texas does not have a law specific to dog bite incidents. Instead, the state relies on a common law sometimes called the “one bite rule.” Under this much-scrutinized rule, victims cannot hold the dog’s owner liable unless they can prove the owner was aware the dog had previously exhibited “vicious propensities.” To file for compensation from the dog owner, we need to show:
- The dog previously attacked another person or behaved in a way that demonstrated an intent to harm someone; and
- The owner or handler of the dog was aware of this previous behavior.
As you can probably imagine, it much more difficult to file a claim and recover compensation for your dog bite injuries in Texas than it is in other areas that do not have a one bite rule.
Even if the dog previously bit someone, the owner and their insurance company will often counter that the victims provoked the dog in one or both incidents, or that the dog had another justification for the attack. When this occurs, we may need to identify eyewitnesses or provide other proof the dog acted without provocation in both incidents.
Can I File a Dog Bite Claim Based on Negligence?
Because of the one bite rule, we often find it easier to prove that a dog owner or handler acted negligently and this caused your injuries. If we can show the dog owner was careless in handling or containing their pet and this allowed the attack to occur, we can recover compensation for your damages.
To win a dog attack claim based on negligence, we need to show:
- The party in question owned or provided care for the dog;
- They owed a certain duty to keep their dog contained and away from others;
- They acted carelessly, failing to uphold this duty; and
- This careless behavior allowed the attack to occur.
One of the most common ways this occurs in Houston is when dog owners fail to follow the local leash laws. While there are no statewide leash laws in Texas, Houston and many other municipalities have laws in place that require all dogs to be on a leash when in public areas. This means if a dog runs from their unfenced yard into your yard and bites you, the owner is likely liable. We will just need to prove the handler failed to keep the dog contained, and this directly led to your injuries.
What Do I Need to Do to Protect My Rights After a Dog Bite Incident?
Your first concern after a dog bite incident should be to see a medical care provider. A walk-in clinic or the emergency department of your local hospital can clean the wound and provide advice on how to lower your risk of infection. Dog bites have a high incidence of infection, and require diligent care to prevent problems.
If your wounds are penetrating, gaping open, or are on your face, hands, or other sensitive areas of the body, you will need extra attention to limit scarring and ensure you retain all range of motion. You may want to call 911 and request an ambulance if you suffer serious attack injuries. You will likely receive a thorough wound cleaning, stitches or another closure method, and a tetanus shot, among other treatments.
Getting the medical care you need immediately ensures you make the fullest recovery possible, while also ensuring there is no denying how and when your injuries occurred. You will need to continue the care regimen your doctor recommends until they release you.
It is also important to report a bite to authorities as soon as possible. In Houston, you can report an incident by calling 311. This helps to document your incident and will also create a record in case the dog attacks someone else in the future. Often, these reports play a key role in our case against the dog owner.
How Can a Houston Dog Bite Attorney Help Me Recover Compensation?
Most dog bites require at least a visit to the doctor. The resulting serious injuries may leave you out of work for several weeks or even longer. Some require ongoing care in the coming months or years. All this costs money, and you may wonder who will pay for it. We may be able to help you recover compensation to pay your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
If we can show the owner acted negligently, we can file a claim based on their homeowner’s insurance policy. Often, we can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and recover the payout you need. If not, we can file a personal injury lawsuit and ask the judge to award you compensation for your damages.
How Can I Discuss My Dog Bite Case With a Houston Lawyer for Free?
At D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, we offer free case evaluations for Houston dog bite victims. You can reach our office today at 713-850-8600. Call us to schedule a time to meet with one of our Houston Personal injury attorneys.