It’s a well-known fact that people love spending time outdoors with their dogs, enjoying the beautiful scenery, dog-friendly businesses, and off-leash parks that make many places ideal for raising pets. However, the unpredictable nature of animals means that incidents like dog bites can occur, transforming a joyful experience into a harrowing and painful one. At Daly & Black, P.C., we deeply understand the profound impact a severe dog attack can have on your life, affecting your family, and potentially your ability to work. Our dedicated team of Houston dog bite lawyers and Houston personal injury lawyers is committed to ensuring you receive the justice and compensation you deserve, recognizing the significant changes such an event can bring to your life.
Dog Bite Laws
Navigating dog bite cases is a complex legal affair that demands the expertise of seasoned legal counsel to effectively establish liability. In most states, the laws governing dog bite incidents fall under either “negligence” or “strict liability” categories. Under strict liability, a dog’s owner can be held accountable if their dog inflicts serious harm or causes death, regardless of the owner’s prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. For this liability to be applicable, it’s crucial that the victim was legally present on private property or in a public space at the time of the incident. Having a Houston dog bite lawyer while going through this legal framework ensures that even in the absence of an owner’s foresight of potential aggression, they can still be held responsible for their pet’s actions.
“Serious bodily injury” includes any injury that causes:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Second or third degree burns
- A substantial risk of loss or impairment of the function of any part of the body, including organs
- A substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
- A substantial risk of death
Strict liability law only applies for injuries caused solely by a dog bite. If a dog causes injury by some other means, such as knocking someone down, the injured person can seek compensation via a negligence-based claim.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
In the United States, dog attacks are a prevalent issue, resulting in approximately $2 billion in damages annually. A significant 61 percent of these attacks occur either in the dog owner’s home or in the surrounding neighborhood.
Tragically, individuals of all ages are susceptible to dog attacks, but children are often the most affected. In fact, dog bites lead to more emergency room visits for children than any other type of injury. Most alarmingly, a large portion of these severe incidents involving children result in injuries to the head and face. Such traumatic experiences can leave lasting physical and emotional scars, profoundly impacting a child’s life and self-esteem.
Generally speaking, the most common injuries from dog bites include:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Crush injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
What Types of Compensation Can I Seek in a Dog Bite Case?
Beginning with a consultation at our office, or in your hospital room, our Houston dog bite lawyers will evaluate your case and support you during this difficult time while pursuing compensation on your behalf for:
These costs encompass not just the immediate expenses of emergency medical care and possible prolonged hospitalization, but also extend to ongoing and future needs. These can include continuous physical therapy, long-term care, and medications to manage both physical and psychological pain stemming from the incident.
Lost wages, employment and earning potential
This includes the loss of a current job or contract, time off work or an inability to adequately perform tasks in the future.
Pain and suffering
You are entitled to compensation for the pain you are presently experiencing. However, you also have a right to seek compensation for the suffering you initially endured as well as future discomfort and difficulty.
Some injuries require assistance beyond the walls of the hospital. Home nursing care, as well as necessary assistive equipment is included in these damages.
Loss of consortium
This particular form of suffering includes the emotionally painful loss of love, companionship, affection and household services.
IIn particularly severe instances where it is established that a dog owner intentionally incited their dog to attack, the victim may be entitled to compensation that goes beyond typical damages. This kind of recompense is considered when the attack is the result of a deliberate and malicious act, serving both as a punitive measure and a deterrent against such egregious behavior in the future.
What to Do If You’ve Been Attacked By a Dog?
Identify the dog, its owner and the potential insurer.
Immediately determine who owns or had custody of the dog when it attacked you. Identify the liability insurance company providing potential coverage. In some cases, your own insurance company may provide coverage for your wounds.
Seek medical care.
Depending on the severity of your injury, call first responders to the scene or arrange to be taken to the emergency room. Even if your injury seems minor, an untreated wound can lead to serious infection or rabies, and possibly lead to amputation.
Obtain contact information from any witnesses. Document the dog’s license information and ask about the dog’s history. Has the dog injured anyone in the past or been legally designated as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous”? Photograph your injuries, including lacerations, bruises any torn, bloody clothing. It’s also a good idea to photograph the location of the attack.
File a dog bite report.
Once you’ve been medically treated for your injury, file a dog bite report with the city or county, even if the injury was minor. This will legally document your case and leave a useful paper trail for the next potential victim of the same dog.
Call our Houston dog bite lawyers right away. The legal issues surrounding your case are complex and difficult to navigate alone. Your dog bite attorney can best look out for your best interests from this point forward.
Start a journal.
Dog bite claims can take time to resolve. Begin a journal to document your experiences following the attack. Spend a little time each day recording your thoughts and challenges.
It is crucial to securely gather and preserve evidence that could be vital to your case, such as photographs of the scene, witness contact details, and any other relevant information. Additionally, the clothing you were wearing at the time of the attack should be carefully preserved. This includes keeping any bloodstains or dirt intact. Rather than washing these items, place them in a plastic bag or container of appropriate size to maintain their condition as evidence. This attention to detail can be critical in supporting your case effectively.
If the owner of the dog is insured, you might get a call from an insurance company representative. If that happens, ask the insurer for information including:
- The name, address and phone number of the insurance company
- The claim number
- The name of the person insured
While some things are appropriate to discuss with the insurance representative, there are some things you do not want to do:
- Do not allow your conversation to be recorded
- Do not accept any offers
- Do not discuss who is responsible
- Do not write a memo or letter
- Do not schedule an appointment
- Do not discuss injury value, payment terms, settlement or anything involving money
If your insurance company isn’t being fair to you after you go through a devastating accident like this one, contacting a first-party insurance lawyer can help too.
Dog Bite Lawsuit Statute of Limitations
In the United States, every state sets a time limit for filing a personal injury case, such as a dog bite injury. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, but typically requires injured individuals to file a lawsuit within a specified number of years from the date of the injury. If the lawsuit is not filed within the designated time frame, the case may not be heard in court. Since missing this state-mandated deadline will cause you to lose the right to obtain court-ordered compensation for your injury, it is crucial to contact our Houston dog bite lawyers as quickly as possible to begin building your case.