Austin Dog Bite Lawyers
Did you or your child sustain injuries from a dog bite? Contact Gibson Hill Personal Injury to find out the legal options available for pursuing financial compensation. We know the state laws inside and out, and we’ll fight to protect your rights. You shouldn’t have to pay for the resulting expenses when someone else’s pet caused you or your loved one harm. We’ll work to hold the responsible party accountable for your damages.
When you hire us, we’ll begin working on your case immediately. We have an experienced legal team that will investigate the attack and collect evidence that supports your case. Many times, dog bite victims know the owner of the dog – they might be a family member or a friend. It’s important you know that in almost all dog bite cases, it is the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance that will cover your losses, not the owner themselves. We’ll ensure the insurance company treats you fairly.
Our Austin dog bite lawyers understand how traumatic this experience has been for you and your family. You can depend on us to provide support and guidance to help you move forward with your life. Call us today at (737) 249-6300, and we’ll schedule your free consultation.
Dangerous Dog Laws in Texas
Each state throughout the country defines the term dangerous dog differently. In Texas, a dangerous dog:
- Attacks someone without being provoked in an area outside of their enclosure and causes bodily harm; or
- Acts in a manner that a person might fear an attack that could lead to physical injury.
The owner could face felony charges if their dog causes serious injury or death. The Texas Health and Safety Code section 822.005 defines serious bodily injury as severe tearing and ripping of the muscle or severe bite wound that would cause someone to seek medical treatment and would require hospitalization, despite whether they actually sought treatment.
When someone discovers they own a dangerous dog, they must register it every year and purchase at least $100,000 in liability insurance to cover an injured victim’s expenses if there’s an attack.
According to state dog bite laws, Texas follows a “one bite rule.” That means if you get attacked by a dog and want to pursue legal action, you must prove the following:
- The owner knew their dog bit another person or behaved aggressively before; or
- The owner failed to control their dog so it wouldn’t harm anyone.
The rule applies to more than just dog bites. You can also pursue compensation for any injury related to the attack. For instance, if the dog jumped on you, causing you to fall and hit your head, you could seek compensation for that injury as well.
Why Are Dog Bites Dangerous?
You might think a dog bite isn’t a huge problem. Despite having sharp teeth, they can’t cause too much damage, right? Wrong. If a dog causes puncture wounds in your skin, you have to do more than just get stitched back up. Some dogs aren’t current on their rabies shots, especially strays. If you get bit by an unknown dog, you’ll need a series of shots to prevent developing the disease. You’ll also need treatment to prevent an infection. Many people suffer after a dog attack not because of the actual bite but because of the resulting effects, such as sepsis.
Seeking immediate medical treatment is crucial to avoid any issues with your health. Whether the injury is minor or severe, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The most common dog bite injuries that require doctor intervention include:
- Lacerations and puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Impact injuries, such as concussion, from the dog knocking the victim to the ground
- Bacterial sepsis, rabies, or tetanus
- Torn muscle, flesh, or soft tissue
- Nerve damage
- Physical disfigurement
Physical injuries heal over time, but the psychological effects could last a lifetime. After a dog attack, some people end up with anxiety issues. They might have panic attacks and fear being around animals. That type of injury typically requires medication or treatment with a licensed psychiatrist. It’s a traumatic experience that could take years to move past.
How to Recover Compensation After a Dog Bite
If you suffer any injuries after a dog bites you, you can file an insurance claim to compensate for your damages. Damages are the total losses associated with an injured party’s accident. They fall under two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are actual expenses resulting from an injury, such as:
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out of pocket costs
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are the physical and emotional impact of the injury on someone’s life, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
When the insurance adjuster reviews your damages to come up with a fair settlement amount, they’ll consider multiple factors.
Contributing factors that could result in a larger settlement include:
- A long period of recovery
- Severe or permanent injury, such as loss of vision or amputation
- High cost of medical treatment
- Negative impact on daily life, such as enduring daily pain or inability to care for children
- Emotional or psychological injuries resulting from the attack, such as PTSD or anxiety
- Prescribed medication to manage symptoms or relieve pain
- Future medical care needed
- Significant scarring, disfigurement, or impairment from the dog bite
Contributing factors that could result in a smaller settlement include:
- Medical bills are mostly for the evaluation and diagnosis of the injury rather than treatment
- No emotional effects from the attack
- Short recovery period
- The injury didn’t result in impairment, disfigurement, or disability
- Prescribed medications not needed
- Lack of impact on daily life
- Future medical treatment isn’t necessary
- Lack of permanent damage
- Minor injuries, such as a bruise or sprain
Pursuing Compensation from a Lawsuit
If you want to sue the dog owner for their actions that led to the dog attack, you can. To sue them, you must follow the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases. In Texas, the deadline to file a lawsuit is two years. That means you have two years from the date of the bite injury to pursue legal action.
When you’re preparing a lawsuit, you’ll need to base your case on a legal theory to prove the other party should be held liable for the resulting damages. The most common legal theory is negligence. Negligence refers to a person or entity’s failure to behave in a way a reasonable person would under similar circumstances to prevent harm to another.
To prove negligence, you’ll need to show that these five elements existed at the time of the attack:
- Duty: The dog owner owed you a duty of care to prevent bodily harm;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
- Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for their actions, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
- Proximate cause: Their actions were the direct cause of your injury; and
- Damages: You incurred damages.
Besides economic and non-economic damages, you can also pursue punitive damages. Instead of compensating your losses, it’s a way to penalize the at-fault party and deter similar misconduct in the future. It’s a rare financial award, and juries will only rule in the plaintiff’s favor if there’s clear and convincing evidence of fraud, malice, or gross negligence on the defendant’s part.
Follow These Steps if You Sustain a Dog Bite Injury
It’s important to follow a few key steps following your dog bite injury to protect yourself and your rights:
Step 1: Secure the dog. Ensure your safety and the safety of others around you by confining it to one area. If it’s a stray, call animal control. If the owner is around, notify them of the attack and get their contact information.
Step 2: File an incident report. If the dog bit you in a public place, notify management, and fill out an incident report. Request a copy and obtain their liability insurance details.
Step 3: Call local law enforcement. If necessary, call animal control or an officer to the scene to perform an investigation. A dog with a history of violence shouldn’t be in the owner’s possession.
Step 4: Seek medical attention. Depending on the circumstances, you might need a series of shots to prevent rabies, infection, and other diseases. You’ll also need treatment for wounds, cuts, and other injuries you sustained.
Step 5: File a claim. You could file an insurance claim to negotiate a settlement for your damages. If the attack occurred at a friend’s house, you could file with their homeowner’s insurance company. If the attack happened in a public place, you could file with the business’s liability insurance. You also have the option of suing the dog owner.
Step 6: Hire an Austin dog bite lawyer to assist you with the legal process.
Contact Gibson Hill Personal Injury
If you were the victim of a dog bite in Austin, we’re ready to help you fight for justice. You deserve compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced. You have the right to hold the dog owner accountable for their careless actions.
When you hire us, we’ll provide dependable services and guide you through the complicated legal aspects of your case. We’ll help you get through this devastating period in your life. Our team cares about our clients and will remain by your side from start to finish.
If you were the victim of a dog bite and need help figuring out your legal options, call Gibson Hill Personal Injury at (737) 249-6300. You can meet with one of our Austin dog bite lawyers for a free consultation.