Austin Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog bites can be a traumatizing experience, both physically and emotionally. In addition, dog bite victims often have costly medical bills and other expenses related to their injuries. The right attorney can help you fight for justice and pursue the compensation you deserve.

​​At Loewy Law Firm, our legal team understands the unique challenges of recovering from a dog bite injury. Our experienced Austin dog bite attorneys can provide you with legal guidance and support while seeking the money you need. Contact us today for a free legal case review.

Dog Bite Statistics

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year. Unfortunately, dog bites can be deadly, too. From 2005-2019, dogs killed over 520 people in the US.

In Austin and Travis County, dog bite reports have increased, with 1,560 bites reported in 2012 and 1,696 bites reported in 2015. According to a study on fatal dog bites in Texas, 88 percent of fatal canine attacks occur on the dog owner’s property. In addition, children are the most affected by dog bites, with the AVMA reporting that over 45 percent of fatal dog bite injury victims were under the age of 16 from 2008-2018.

Dog Bite Injuries

Depending on the severity of the bite, dog bite victims may experience a range of physical and psychological effects. Common dog bite injuries include:

  • Lacerations: Lacerations are deep cuts caused by the dog’s teeth. These wounds can be painful and may require medical attention to prevent infection.
  • Scarring: Dog bites can cause permanent scarring on the skin, particularly if they are left untreated.
  • Muscle damage: Dog bites can cause damage to the underlying muscle, tendons, and ligaments. This type of injury can be excruciating and may require surgery to repair.
  • Emotional trauma: Being attacked by a dog can be a traumatic experience for both adults and children, sometimes resulting in anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Infections: If not properly treated, a dog bite can become infected. Common infections include tetanus, rabies, and bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.
  • Nerve damage: When a dog bites with enough force, the nerves in the area can be damaged, leading to significant pain and decreased sensation. This can lead to permanent or long-term nerve damage, resulting in lasting discomfort and physical disability.
  • Facial injuries: Dog bite facial injuries can include lacerations, scarring, and disfigurement. Additionally, a victim can suffer facial fractures, broken teeth, and eye damage if a dog bite is strong enough.

What Should You Do if Attacked by a Dog in Austin?

If you are attacked by a dog in Austin, taking the proper steps to protect your health and legal rights is crucial. Here are the steps to take after a dog bite injury:

  1. Get medical treatment: If you suffer a dog bite injury, seek medical attention immediately. Even if your injuries appear minor, getting a professional medical evaluation can help diagnose any underlying issues that may be present and prevent future infections. Keep all records of your medical treatments and bills related to the injury.
  2. Collect information about the dog and owner: After receiving medical treatment, try to gather information about the dog and its owner, including the name and contact information of the owner, as well as details about the breed and age of the dog.
  3. Take photos: Taking pictures of the scene where the attack took place and of your injuries can be very helpful in a legal case. Make sure to take close-up shots of any bite marks or scratches on your body.
  4. Report the attack: After a dog bite, you should report the attack to Austin Animal Services, so they can document and investigate the incident and provide resources regarding animal control laws in the city.
  5. Keep all of your records: After reporting the incident to the authorities, store all documents related to the incident, such as medical bills, police reports, and other documents.
  6. Contact an Austin dog bite lawyer: After being injured by a dog attack, consider contacting an experienced dog bite attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and work to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Does Texas Have a One-Bite Rule?

Texas follows the “one-bite rule,” which means that a person may be eligible for compensation if they can show that the dog bit someone before or acted as if it wanted to do so. This only applies if the owner knew or reasonably should have known of the dog’s previous vicious or dangerous conduct. In other words, the victim must prove that the owner or keeper of the dog had reason to know that the animal was likely to cause harm. A dog bite injury victim can use the following evidence to establish that the dog owner was aware or should have been aware of the dog’s tendency to bite:

  • The owner keeps the dog chained or muzzled.
  • The owner received reports of the dog growling, attacking other dogs, or lunging at people.
  • The owner trained the dog to fight or serve as a guard dog.
  • The owner warned others about the dog’s propensity to bite.
  • The owner has a “Beware of Dog” sign in their yard.

It is important to be aware that there is a trespasser exception to the dog bite rule. If the dog bit you while you were trespassing on the dog owner’s property, the owner might not be liable for your injuries.

Types of Dog Bite Claims

When a dog owner’s negligence leads to a dog bite injury, they may be liable for the victim’s medical bills and other losses. Negligence is when a person fails to take reasonable precautions to protect others, leading to injury. For example, if a dog owner fails to adequately control their dog or fails to abide by Austin’s leash laws and someone is bitten, the owner can be held liable for the resulting injuries.

Dog bite victims can also potentially bring claims against another liable party. For example, if a landlord is aware of a tenant’s dangerous dog but fails to protect others from it, they could be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog. Similarly, if a business fails to take adequate precautions against customers’ dogs, like requiring them to be on leashes, they could be held responsible for any resulting injuries.

Comparative Negligence for Texas Dog Bite Injuries

If you’re injured in a dog bite incident in Texas, it’s essential to know that Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. The court will deduct any percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff from their award. For example, if the plaintiff is 20% at fault, their award would be reduced by 20%. However, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, they are not allowed to recover damages from the defendant. Regarding dog bite cases, comparative negligence can come into play if the plaintiff provoked the animal, entered the property without permission, or failed to take reasonable safety precautions.

What Types of Compensation Can You Get for a Dog Bite Injury?

Compensation in dog bite cases is designed to cover both economic and non-economic damages, addressing the immediate and long-term impacts of the injury. Here’s a breakdown of the compensation types and influencing factors:

Types of Compensation Available:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes costs for emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and any future medical treatments related to the dog bite. Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs are also covered.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for lost wages is available if the injury caused you to miss work. This also extends to loss of earning capacity if the injuries prevent you from returning to your previous employment or working in the same capacity as before.
  • Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages for pain and suffering compensate for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced due to the dog bite. This includes anxiety, fear, and the impact of any scarring or disfigurement.
  • Property Damage: If personal property was damaged during the incident, such as clothing or glasses, you could be compensated for repair or replacement costs.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases where the dog owner’s behavior was particularly reckless or egregious, punitive damages might be awarded. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.

Factors Influencing Compensation Amount:

  1. Severity of Injuries: The more severe and long-lasting the injuries, the higher the potential compensation. Permanent injuries or disabilities typically result in higher awards.
  2. Impact on Quality of Life: Compensation can be influenced by how the injuries affect your daily life, including your ability to enjoy hobbies, perform household tasks, and maintain relationships.
  3. Economic Losses: The total amount of economic losses, including medical bills and lost wages, directly impacts compensation.
  4. Liability and Negligence: The degree of fault of the dog owner and any comparative negligence on the part of the victim (if applicable) can adjust the compensation amount.
  5. Insurance Coverage: The dog owner’s insurance policy limits can also influence the compensation amount, especially in settlement negotiations.

An experienced dog bite attorney can help victims assess the full extent of their damages, gather the necessary evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure fair compensation is received.

Steps in a Dog Bite Lawsuit

A dog bite lawsuit in Austin involves several steps, from the initial legal consultation to the final outcome of the case. Here’s a straightforward look at what you can expect during the process:

1. Initial Consultation

The process begins with a meeting with an Austin dog bite lawyer. During this meeting, you’ll discuss the details of the incident, including when and where the bite occurred, the extent of your injuries, and any interactions you’ve had with the dog’s owner or their insurance company. This consultation is usually offered at no cost and is confidential.

2. Case Evaluation

Your lawyer will review the merits of your case, taking into account factors such as the severity of your injuries, the circumstances of the dog bite, the evidence available, and the applicable Texas dog bite laws. This step determines the potential for a successful claim and the strategy to pursue.

3. Filing the Lawsuit

If your case has a solid foundation, the next step is to officially file a lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare and submit the necessary legal documents to start the court process. This action formally accuses the dog owner (or another liable party) of negligence that resulted in your injuries.

4. Discovery Phase

Both sides will exchange information during the discovery phase. This includes gathering evidence, taking depositions, and compiling medical records and witness statements. The goal is to build a strong case by uncovering all relevant facts.

5. Negotiation and Settlement

Often, dog bite cases are settled out of court. Your lawyer will negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company to reach a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If both parties agree on a settlement, the case concludes without going to trial.

6. Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. During the trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments. A judge or jury will then decide the outcome of the case and the compensation you’re entitled to, if any.

7. Resolution

Whether through a settlement or a trial verdict, the final step is the resolution of your case. You will receive compensation based on the agreed settlement or the court’s decision. Your attorney will handle the legal and administrative tasks to ensure you receive your compensation.

Common Challenges in Dog Bite Cases

  1. Proving Liability: One of the primary challenges in a dog bite case is establishing the dog owner’s liability. Under Texas law, proving that the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressive tendencies can be complex. This often requires gathering substantial evidence, such as previous reports of aggression or witness statements.
  2. Comparative Negligence: As mentioned previously, Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence rule, which can complicate dog bite cases. If the victim is found partially at fault for the incident (for example, by provoking the dog), the compensation awarded can be reduced accordingly.
  3. Gathering Evidence: Collecting comprehensive evidence to support your claim is critical, but can be challenging. This includes medical records, photographs of injuries, witness statements, and any previous complaints about the dog. Evidence must be collected promptly to ensure its accuracy and relevance.
  4. Dealing with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts. Victims may face lowball settlement offers or disputes over the severity of injuries and the need for compensation. Our dog bite attorney can negotiate effectively with insurance companies to seek fair compensation.
  5. Statute of Limitations: In Texas, dog bite cases must be filed within a specific timeframe after the incident. Acting quickly and efficiently is essential to avoid missing this critical deadline, which can bar the victim from pursuing compensation.
  6. Emotional and Psychological Impact: The emotional and psychological effects of a dog bite can be significant, yet proving these impacts in court can be challenging. Demonstrating the extent of emotional distress requires detailed documentation and, in some cases, expert testimony.
  7. Determining the Value of Your Claim: Accurately assessing the full value of your claim, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future care costs, is complex. It requires a thorough understanding of both the immediate and long-term effects of your injuries.

Facing these challenges head-on with the support of a knowledgeable Austin dog bite lawyer can significantly impact the outcome of your case, including the amount of compensation you receive. Our Austin dog bite lawyer can provide the expertise and resources needed to strengthen your case, advocating for your rights and fighting for the compensation you deserve.

The Role of Evidence in Your Dog Bite Case

In dog bite cases, evidence plays a key role in establishing the facts of the incident, proving liability, and securing fair compensation for the victim. The following are key types of evidence for establishing liability and illustrating the full scope of the victim’s injuries and losses.

Medical Records

Medical documentation is fundamental in demonstrating the extent and severity of your injuries. Medical records provide a detailed account of your injuries, treatments received, and any ongoing or future medical care you may require. They help in quantifying medical expenses and substantiating claims for compensation.

Photographs of Injuries

Photos taken immediately after the incident and throughout the healing process serve as visual proof of the injuries sustained. They can be powerful evidence in showing the severity of the bite, the progression of your recovery, and any permanent scarring or disfigurement.

Witness Statements

Statements from individuals who witnessed the dog bite incident can support your account of the events and help establish liability. Witnesses can corroborate details about the dog’s behavior, the circumstances of the attack, and the actions of the dog owner.

Dog Owner’s History

Evidence of the dog’s previous aggressive behavior or prior incidents can be crucial. This may include reports to animal control, previous complaints, or warnings issued to the dog owner. Such evidence can help prove the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite.

Expert Testimony

In some cases, expert witnesses, such as animal behaviorists or medical professionals, may provide testimony on the nature of the attack, the likely behavior of the dog, or the extent of your injuries. Their insights can lend credibility to your claims and help explain complex issues to the court.

Police or Animal Control Reports

If the dog bite was reported to the police or animal control, these official reports could provide valuable information about the incident. They may contain details of the attack, the response of the dog owner, and any actions taken by authorities.

Documentation of Losses

Beyond medical expenses, evidence of other losses, such as lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and personal accounts of pain and suffering, are essential. Documentation and personal diaries can help illustrate the broader impact of the dog bite on your life.

Gathering and presenting a comprehensive body of evidence is key to building a strong dog bite case. An experienced dog bite lawyer can assist in collecting the necessary evidence, ensuring it is presented effectively, and advocating on your behalf for the compensation you deserve.

Strengthening Your Dog Bite Case with Documentation

Effective documentation and timely medical treatment can strengthen your dog bite case. Here are some tips:

  1. Immediate Medical Attention: Seek medical care right after the bite to document your injuries accurately. This initial documentation is important for providing a baseline for your injuries.
  2. Continuous Medical Records: Keep detailed records of all medical treatments, including follow-up visits, specialist consultations, and therapies. Save all medical reports, bills, and prescriptions to show the extent of your injuries and treatments.
  3. Photographic Evidence: Take clear photos of your injuries immediately after the incident and during your recovery. These photos serve as visual evidence of the severity and impact of your injuries.
  4. Recovery Journal: Maintain a journal documenting your recovery process, pain levels, and how the injuries affect your daily activities and emotional well-being. This can illustrate the non-economic impact of your injuries.
  5. Organize Documentation: Systematically organize all your documentation, including medical records, financial documents, and personal notes. Keeping everything accessible and well-organized supports the efficiency and effectiveness of your case.

How Documentation Helps Your Dog Bite Case

  1. Establishes the Facts: It provides a clear, undeniable record of the incident, the injuries sustained, and the aftermath. This helps to establish the basic facts of the case without relying solely on testimonies, which can be disputed.
  2. Demonstrates the Severity of Injuries: Detailed medical records and photographs vividly illustrate the severity of the injuries. This is important for conveying the physical pain and suffering endured, which can influence the compensation awarded.
  3. Links Injuries to the Incident: Proper documentation creates a direct link between the dog bite incident and the injuries sustained. This is important for proving that the injuries were a direct result of the dog bite and not pre-existing conditions or unrelated events.
  4. Supports Claims for Compensation: Itemized medical bills, receipts, and records of lost wages provide concrete evidence of the financial impact of the dog bite. This documentation is needed for substantiating claims for economic damages.
  5. Quantifies Non-Economic Damages: Journals or diaries detailing the victim’s pain levels, emotional distress, and how the injuries have affected their daily life help quantify non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, which are harder to measure.
  6. Counters Comparative Negligence Arguments: In cases where the dog owner’s defense might argue comparative negligence (claiming the victim provoked the dog or was partly at fault), detailed documentation can help refute these claims and clarify the circumstances of the incident.
  7. Facilitates Negotiations with Insurance Companies: Comprehensive documentation provides a strong foundation for negotiations with insurance companies, making it harder for them to minimize the severity of the claim or offer inadequate settlements.
  8. Prepares the Case for Trial: If the case goes to trial, having a well-documented body of evidence can be persuasive in court, helping to present a compelling argument to the judge or jury.

Thorough documentation directly strengthens your dog bite case, increasing your chances of securing fair compensation.

How a Dog Bite Attorney Can Help

Dog bite attorneys understand the laws that protect dog bite victims and their families. They know how to navigate the legal system. After a dog bite injury, a lawyer can help you determine the strength of your case, gather evidence to support your claim, file a lawsuit if necessary, negotiate settlements, and represent you in court. An experienced dog bite attorney can also help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Speak With a Dog Bite Lawyer in Austin

If you suffered an injury from a dog bite in Austin, seek the help of an experienced dog bite injury lawyer. At the Loewy Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing clients attacked by dogs. We understand the legal complexities of dog bite claims and have the knowledge and resources to help you pursue the compensation you need. Contact Loewy Law Firm today for a free legal consultation with an experienced Austin dog bite attorney.