As much as we love dogs, we know that sometimes dogs harm people. There are an estimated 4.5 million dog bites every year in the United States. In addition to bites, dogs can cause other injuries by chasing someone or knocking someone down. More than a third of the money paid out under homeowners’ insurance policies is paid out due to dog-related injury claims. Insurance companies paid almost $700 million in 2017 for dog bite claims.
Every dog owner owes a legal duty to prevent their dog from injuring others. Most of the time, a dog-related injury occurs because of the negligence of the dog owner. If you’ve experienced a personal injury due to a dog bite or a dog-related injury, contact D. Willis Law for a free consultation. We can explain your legal options after suffering a dog-related injury.
The San Antonio-based attorneys of D. Willis Law have experience, knowledge, and proven results to help you recover damages after a dog bite.
Dog bites can be very serious. Dog bites not only cause injuries to the skin, but they can also spread disease. About 20% of dog bites become infected with bacteria. Sometimes a dog may be a carrier of a disease or infection without showing any symptoms. This is why it is important to seek treatment immediately. Below are some of the common diseases that can spread because of a dog bite:
If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to treat the bite immediately. The first thing to do is wash the wound with soap and water. Next, you should seek medical care with a doctor as soon as possible. If the doctor believes that a rabies infection is probable, the doctor will begin rabies treatment, which consists of several rabies vaccine shots over a series of about two weeks. Even if the dog does not have rabies, there are many other bacterium and diseases that dog bites can spread.
When a dog bites someone, the dog owner’s homeowner’s/renter’s insurance policy should pay for the victim’s damages. (In some cases, the property owner/landlord may also be responsible for the dog bite if the property owner/landlord knew the dog was dangerous and allowed the dog to be kept on the premises.) “Damages” is a legal term that includes past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc. Because the typical homeowner’s policy limits are at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident, there is usually enough insurance money to compensate most dog bite victims.
However, getting the insurance company to pay a fair amount can be difficult. Dealing with insurance adjusters can a challenge. The insurance company will attempt to pay a dog bite victim as little as possible. Insurance companies have legal departments dedicated to handling claims such as these. Since the insurance company has lawyers on their side, you should, too. Otherwise, you will be at a severe disadvantage in dealing with the insurance company. Having an attorney on your side will help even the playing field, allowing you to receive a fair settlement.
Approximately 20% of dog bites require medical attention. As we know, medical treatment can be expensive. The average cost of hospitalization for a dog bite victim is $18,200. Those medical bills need to be paid. In order to get the insurance company to pay the victim’s medical bills, hiring an attorney may be necessary. A dog bite attorney can help the victim recover their past medical bills, pain and suffering due to the dog bite, lost wages, and even future medical treatment that may be necessary.
Here are some dog bite statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
The following dog bite statistics are from 2017, courtesy of DogsBite:
Below are some statistics on dog-related injury claims from 2017, courtesy of CNBC:
While some states have a specific law related to dog bites, Texas does not. A Texas dog bite case can be based on negligence or strict liability.
Texas follows the general “negligence” standard for most dog-related injury cases. Some people also call this the “one bite rule.” This means that a dog owner is not automatically responsible just because their dog bites someone. Instead, the dog-bite victim must prove the following:
Some examples of negligence from Texas caselaw include the dog owner not attempting to stop a dog attack after the attack had begun, leaving a dog tethered in the front yard (which an expert testified made the dog aggressive), and not keeping a dog under restraint at all times.
Even though the state of Texas does not have a leash law, many cities and municipalities do. If the dog owner violated a statute by not having their dog on a leash, the victim can allege that the violation of the statute (the leash law) caused the victim’s injury. In this case, the victim does not have to prove the dog owner was negligent; only that they violated the statute. This will make the victim’s case easier to prove.
If the dog has bitten someone before or acted aggressively before, the victim does not have to prove the dog owner failed to exercise reasonable care or violated a statute. The dog owner is responsible for the dog bite simply because the dog bit someone. This is referred to as “strict liability.” In this situation, the victim must prove the following:
A dog owner has two primary defenses they can use if they are sued for strict liability. The first defense is that the owner had no reason to know the dog was aggressive or would bite someone. The second defense is that the dog bite victim was trespassing. These issues often become key in a dog bite lawsuit. Having an attorney on your side can help establish whether or not the dog had been aggressive or bitten someone in the past.
In a dog bite case, a victim can recover for the following elements of damages:
The statute of limitations for a dog bite case is 2 years, which is the standard statute of limitations in Texas for a personal injury case. This means your lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the date of injury or it is barred.
A dog owner has several defenses they may use if sued over a dog-related injury claim:
Daniel Willis handles each case personally. You will have the knowledge of an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side with individualized attention.
If you have recently experienced a dog bite or dog-related injury, contact us today for your free consultation.
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