The Process for Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Austin, Texas
A dog attack is scary and can lead to severe or debilitating injuries. Long-term complications can arise despite adequate medical care. Some victims deal with chronic pain or psychological trauma. Others end up with disfiguring wounds and permanent scars.
Knowing how to handle an attack and who to hold liable can be confusing. You must follow a specific process to recover compensation for your medical bills and other expenses.
Here you will learn how to report your dog bite injury, the steps you must take after an attack, and the process for filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.
How to Handle a Dog Bite Injury
A dog attack is traumatic. You might be in shock in the immediate aftermath. However, you must compose yourself and take action. Getting the medical care you need and holding the at-fault party responsible for your injury requires completing specific steps.
You should call 911 or animal control to report what happened. Someone should arrive at the scene to investigate and create a report. You can use that report as evidence to prove the attack occurred.
Locating the dog’s owner is also essential. Get their name, contact information, and insurance information. You can file a claim with their insurance company to seek compensation for your injury. If the dog is a stray, animal control can take charge of the dog to prevent additional attacks.
Seek medical care after leaving the scene of the attack. The doctor can stitch up your wounds and determine whether you have other injuries they must address. You might require tetanus and rabies shots to prevent infection. If the physician recommends follow-up care, obey their instructions and continue treating your injury until you recover.
You should also hire a dog bite injury lawyer. Attending doctor’s appointments and dealing with the challenges of treating a dog bite injury can be overwhelming. You won’t have to worry about pursuing a case against the at-fault party when you hire a lawyer to represent you.
Maintaining records is also beneficial. Keep copies of your hospital records, billing statements, and other documents. Your attorney can refer to them to ensure they request accurate and complete medical records from your doctors.
Why Reporting the Bite to Austin Animal Services Is Crucial
If you sustain injuries from a dog bite, report the incident to Austin Animal Protection. The agency protects the public and works with law enforcement to handle vicious and dangerous dogs.
You can submit a signed bite affidavit to the agency if you believe the dog that bit you is dangerous. The courts determine whether to apply a legal designation to a vicious or dangerous dog. That designation requires the owner to register their dog with the City of Austin.
Understanding Insurance Coverage in a Dog Bite Claim
In Texas, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies can cover dog bites. However, some insurance carriers won’t pay claims involving specific breeds, such as pit bulls. You must review the dog owner’s policy to determine whether they have coverage that applies to your situation.
Sometimes, other types of insurance policies pay dog bite claims. If you discover the dog owner’s renter’s or homeowner’s insurance won’t cover your injury, consider filing a claim with their auto insurer. Some auto insurance policies include dog bite coverage if the incident involves the covered vehicle. For example, you might be able to file a claim if the attack happened inside the owner’s vehicle.
If you sustained a dog bite injury at a restaurant, store, or another business establishment, the property or business owner’s liability insurance might compensate you for your losses. Business owners often purchase commercial liability coverage to protect themselves when accidents occur on their properties. The owner might be responsible for the attack for allowing dogs on the premises.
How to File a Claim for a Dog Bite Injury
Filing a claim requires multiple steps. First, you must review the policy to determine if you’re within the required timeframe to file a claim.
Although many insurance carriers don’t impose strict deadlines, some include language in their policies suggesting filing a claim promptly or within a reasonable amount of time. That isn’t a specific deadline, but it likely means you shouldn’t wait too long before initiating your claim.
You must also review the coverage information to ensure the policy covers the type of incident that injured you. If there’s an exclusion based on the breed of the dog, pursuing compensation from another source is necessary.
You can file your claim after confirming coverage and proceed to the next steps, such as:
- Investigate – A dog bite injury case requires an investigation. You must obtain evidence to prove someone else is at fault for the attack and the extent of your injuries and losses. Evidence can include medical records, witness statements, the report from Austin Animal Protection, and other documentation showing what happened.
- Send a demand letter – After gathering the available documentation, submit it with a demand letter to the insurance company.
- Negotiate – Negotiations can start once the insurer reviews your demand letter and evidence. The insurance adjuster might accept your proposed settlement or provide a counteroffer. Negotiations can continue until you agree on a number. However, the adjuster might be unwilling to increase their offer to an amount you believe is fair. If that happens, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
Pursuing a Lawsuit After a Dog Bite Injury
Complying with state law is crucial if you want to sue the dog’s owner for your injury. A specific timeframe for filing a lawsuit against another party is defined by Texas’s statute of limitations. In Texas, you have a two-year timeframe to file suit. That means you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the attack to pursue compensation from the at-fault party in court.
The money you recover in a claim or lawsuit might compensate you for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emergency room visits, prescriptions, and other medical expenses
- Mental anguish
- Loss of household services
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
You might also recover exemplary damages in a lawsuit. You must show clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s malice, gross negligence, or fraud for exemplary damages to be awarded to you.
How an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Can Help
A dog bite injury attorney from Loewy Law Firm can help you with your claim. You should not hesitate to seek legal representation after a dog attack. Handling your case alone might not get you the results you want.
When you hire us, we can handle every aspect of your case, including:
- Investigating the incident to establish liability
- Reviewing insurance coverage information
- Speaking to eyewitnesses to get their statements
- Taking pictures at the incident scene
- Securing video surveillance footage of the attack, if it exists
- Requesting copies of your medical records and bills to prove the expenses you incurred
- Filing a claim, submitting a demand letter, and negotiating a settlement
- Filing a lawsuit if the insurer denies the claim or offers an inadequate settlement
Get Help with Your Dog Bite Case
You must not wait before filing a dog bite claim. Report the incident, seek treatment, and hire Loewy Law Firm immediately. We have fought for injured clients in Austin since 2005. We are ready to help you pursue compensation.
Call us at 512-957-9858 for a free consultation if you sustained a dog bite injury due to someone else’s negligence.