In 1974, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas would be a “one bite rule” state for all personal injury cases involving dog bites.
In layman’s terms, this means that the owner can be found liable when his/her dog bites another person if negligence was a factor.
In order to prove negligence, the victim must be able to show that the owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the bite, and/or that the owner knew about the dog’s aggressive nature.
If you have suffered a dog bite injury due to the owner’s negligence, the skilled legal team at DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC can help. We will analyze the details of your case to determine the most appropriate legal strategy for moving forward.
Our compassionate, knowledgeable attorneys understand the emotional complexities often surrounding dog bite cases. Contact us today at (832) 745-4878 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Why You Need a Houston Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog bite injuries commonly involve the face and head and can leave the victim with serious scarring and disfigurement.
As such, the individual often experiences emotional trauma and suffering in addition to physical pain.
If you have been injured by a dog, you have a right to seek compensation. A Houston dog bite lawyer can help.
Although Texas applies negligence rules to dog bite cases, strict liability rules may apply if the dog is classified as a “dangerous” dog. According to the statute, a dangerous dog is defined as a dog that:
Makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own;
Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
If the dog is classified as dangerous and strict liability rules apply, you may not be required to demonstrate the owner’s failure to use reasonable care to prevent the attack.
Is it Criminal?
When a dog bite causes particularly severe injuries, the owner may even face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability. According to the Texas Health and Safety Code, felony charges may apply if:
- The owner is criminally negligent in his/her failure to secure the dog and someone is seriously injured or killed, away from the owner’s property.
- The owner is aware that the dog is “dangerous” and someone is seriously injured or killed, away from the owner’s property.
In either of the scenarios above, the owner may be found criminally negligent, assuming that the victim did not provoke the dog to attack.
Possible Defenses the Dog’s Owner is Likely to Use
In most dog bite cases, the owner will use one of two defenses:
- The victim was trespassing at the time of the incident.
- The owner was unaware that the dog was capable of showing aggression.
If the owner is successful in convincing the court that he/she was unaware of the dog’s aggression, and you cannot show that the owner acted negligently, your case will likely be dismissed.
Furthermore, if the owner can show that you were, indeed, trespassing when the bite occurred, you may be found at least partially liable for your injuries. Even so, as a comparative negligence state, Texas may award you a portion of damages sought, reduced by your percentage of negligence.
It is in your best interest to hire an experienced injury attorney if you have been bitten or in any way injured by a dog. A Houston dog bite lawyer will review the details of your case, determine fault, gather evidence, calculate damages, and position you for the most favorable outcome possible.
The Process of Filing a Claim After a Dog Bite in Houston
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Not all of these bites are serious, but approximately 800,000 require medical treatment. If you have suffered a serious dog bite injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated costs.
To improve your chances of success in a dog bite injury claim, gather as much evidence as possible.
- Take pictures of any visible injuries, as well as the scene of the accident.
- Seek medical attention and report for any scheduled visits.
- Obtain the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
Step two is to consult with a Houston dog bite lawyer. Your lawyer will help you gather any additional evidence, calculate damages, and negotiate with insurance companies if they are involved. If the insurance company or dog’s owner fails to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney can take the case to trial.
Damages You Can Receive After a Houston Dog Bite Injury
As with all personal injury cases, the damages you can receive are largely dependent on the severity of your injuries. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you have a right to seek compensation for any damages suffered. Some of the most common damages involved in dog bite injury cases include:
- Medical expenses—emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, facial reconstruction and other types of plastic surgery, doctor visits, prescription medications, physical therapy
- Pain and suffering—as many dog bite injuries involve the head and face, obvious scarring is a common injury. In addition to the physical pain endured by dog bite victims, those with disfiguring damage to the face may also suffer emotional trauma.
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
If you have been injured in a dog attack, a Houston injury lawyer can help you calculate and recover damages.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims in Houston
As with all personal injury cases in Texas, dog bite claims have a two-year statute of limitations. If you fail to file within that two-year window, you will almost certainly lose any right to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party. But even waiting a year or 18 months from the date of the injury has multiple drawbacks. The courts may wonder why you waited so long to file if the injury was so serious, and your lawyer will be limited in his/her ability to build a solid case against the other party. Finally, memories fade quickly. The sooner you file, the better able you will be to recall important details about the attack.
Contact DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC Today
If you have been injured in a dog bite accident, the skilled legal team at DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC can help.
Our attorneys will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward, and we will remain by your side from start to finish.
Although our goal is to reach a fair settlement out of court, we are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.
If you have been injured, we can help. Contact DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC today at (832) 745-4878 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.