Austin Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog attacks are very serious and even life-threatening in some situations, and the owners must take responsibility for the actions of their pets. If your family was victimized in an attack, an Austin dog bite lawyer can help you fight for justice.
Your dog may be a valued and trusted member of the family, but unfortunately, not every owner makes sure that their dogs are properly trained and handled. The American Humane Society reports that, on average, there are 4.7 million dog bites in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites require medical attention. Tragically, 82% of dog bites treated in emergency rooms involve children under the age of 15, and 70% of all fatalities occur among children under the age of 10.
Types of Compensation You Could Be Owed After a Dog Attack
Although many dog bites are mild and can be treated with a first aid kit, some bites can cause severe injuries that require costly medical treatment. If you are a victim of a severe dog bite, let’s look at some of the ways you can claim compensation for your injuries:
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, such as muscle tearing, nerve damage, soft-tissue damage, puncture wounds, eye damage, facial injuries, broken bones, scratches, and scarring. These injuries can be costly to recover from. They may require surgeries, extensive physical therapy, medication, and even psychological treatment. The general rule is that the dog’s owner is responsible for any and all treatment that is required as a result of the dog bite. This is even true if the dog bite exacerbated a medical condition that the person already had. For example, if the victim is healing from a broken leg and the dog bite makes that injury worse, the dog owner would be responsible for the medical bills that result from aggravating the pre-existing injury.
When a victim of a dog bite has to take time off work to recover from their injuries, have surgery, go to physical therapy, etc., the dog’s owner can be required to compensate the victim for income they lost as a result of not being able to work. If an injury impairs a person’s ability to do their job in the future, the dog owner could also be responsible for future lost wages.
The dog’s owner is also responsible for any property damage that occurs as a result of a dog attack. For example, if a dog attacks a person’s head and neck area and breaks their eyeglasses, the dog’s owner would be responsible for replacing the broken eyeglasses.
In certain cases, when a dog owner behaved in a way that was particularly reckless, such as allowing a dog with a known history of biting people to run loose, victims of dog attacks can receive punitive damages. This type of compensation is above and beyond what the victim actually requires to physically recover, make up for lost wages, and recoup for pain and suffering. The purpose of punitive damages is to reinforce to the owner of the dog the fact that they behaved in a careless and negligent manner and to prevent such behavior from happening again.
Very few dogs are truly dangerous. Most dogs are sweet, friendly, and loving creatures. But if a dog is declared dangerous by the court system, then the damages for an injury caused by a dog bite can “multiply” by two or three times what they would have been in actuality.
Pain and Suffering
Many victims of dog bites and attacks experience physical pain, from the injury itself as well as from surgeries and other medical procedures that they must undergo in order to heal. This physical pain can lead to other kinds of suffering that aren’t so apparent, such as emotional trauma and mental anguish. Victims of severe dog attacks may develop a fear of dogs and may suffer from other kinds of debilitating mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and insomnia. Compensation for pain and suffering can vary greatly depending upon various circumstances, but juries frequently award damages for pain and suffering to victims of dog attacks.
How Do I Claim Compensation Through a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?
Most people spend time around dogs belonging to people they know. If you were bitten by a dog owned by someone you know, like a member of your family, a friend, or a neighbor, you can often claim the compensation that you are entitled to through a homeowner’s insurance policy, rather than directly “suing” someone you have a close relationship with. This helps both the victim of the attack and the dog owner avoid an awkward situation that could hurt your relationship. Here are the steps you should take to claim compensation:
- Seek medical attention first. Even if you don’t think that it’s serious, dog bites and scratches can cause serious infections. Seek prompt medical care and document your injuries. Be as thorough as you can be when you speak to medical care professionals. Describe the attack in full, where you were, exactly what happened, and who was involved. The last thing you want to do is give the insurance company a reason to deny your claim later.
- Report the dog bite to your local authorities. Medical authorities in Texas are legally required to report the incident to local animal control authorities. These authorities will reach out to the dog’s owner to make sure that the dog is up to date on all of its vaccinations, especially rabies.
- Collect evidence to support your claim. Evidence can include photos and videos of the incident and the injuries, testimony from witnesses who were present, a list of your medical expenses throughout your recovery process, a tally of your lost wages, and other physical evidence, such as torn or bloody clothes and other damaged property.
- File a claim with the insurance company. You’ll file your claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy. Loewy Law Firm can help with that and with the subsequent settlement negotiations. If we can’t reach an appropriate agreement, we can take the insurance company to trial on your behalf.
- Speak to an insurance adjuster. Gather together all of your evidence and be prepared to speak to an insurance adjuster. Be as professional and calm as possible. Insurance adjusters may try a variety of tactics to negotiate the amount of the claim down, but be firm. If they ask for your consent to record your statement, don’t feel pressured to give one. It’s best to have an attorney with you when making a statement.
- Consult with an attorney. Working with an Austin dog bite attorney is your best bet at getting the compensation you deserve. There is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases in the state of Texas, so don’t wait to take this step.
Explanation of Texas Dog Bite Laws
In the state of Texas, cases involving dog bites and animal attacks operate on the “one bite rule.” This rule states that an owner of an animal who attacks another person can and will be held strictly liable from the very first time an animal bites. The owner, however, can only be held liable if they had reason to believe that their animal was vicious and prone to biting. For example, if the dog had never bitten before and had never acted aggressively before, the owner may not be held liable for the injuries. To be held liable, the dog must have previously bitten or acted like they would bite and the owner knew about this dog’s previous behavior. The owner, however, can also be held liable if they in any way acted negligently. For example, if they had handled the animal with negligence, regardless of previous conduct of the dog, they could be considered responsible for the accident. Such would be the case if they let the dog roam freely without restraint or abusively mistreated it. To prove liability in a dog bite case, the following must be proven:
- The defendant had control over the dog.
- They had a duty to prevent the dog from causing injuries.
- They breached that duty of care.
- That breach caused injury to the plaintiff.
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a dog bite or animal attack, it is in your best interests to get the involvement of an experienced Austin dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. At our personal injury firm, we can help you to fight for the just outcome that you deserve. If you would like to learn more about how we can protect your best interests, do not hesitate to give our firm a call today.
Preventing Dog Bites
Dogs are powerful animals, but there are a few ways you can help protect your family:
- Warn children not to approach dogs that are chained, caged, or tied up. Tethered dogs are more likely to be stressed and feel vulnerable, which leads to increased aggression.
- Caution your children to never touch or go near an eating dog.
- Teach your children to always ask the owner if they may pet the dog, and to stay away from a dog whose owner is not in sight.
- Educate children on the ways to interact with dogs. Show them how to treat them kindly.
- Never leave your children unsupervised around unfamiliar dogs, and do not leave young children alone with your family dog.
- If approached by a seemingly aggressive dog, stay calm, stand still with your arms at your sides, and do not make eye contact with the animal. When possible, move to safety and call animal control to report the dog.
Call an Austin Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, particularly if the dog’s owner is someone that you know and love, we’re here to help. Our experienced Austin injury attorneys are committed to helping victims navigate what can be a very delicate situation in a way that gets you the compensation you deserve but doesn’t erode your relationships. If you were injured in a dog bite incident, contact us for a consultation today at (512) 280-0800. The Loewy Law Firm is dedicated to representing those who are suffering from personal injury, including those that result from dog bites. Dogs are capable of causing serious injury and even death, and their owners are responsible for such damaging behavior. In Texas, dog bite victims can be entitled to compensation as a result of the owners’ negligence. The Loewy Law Firm clients receive thorough attention and compassionate support, and we will offer the same to you. If you were the victim of a vicious dog attack, enlist the strong advocacy of the Loewy Law Firm to fight for the compensation you deserve.