Fighting to Protect Your Rights after an Animal Attack
For centuries, domesticated dogs have been an integral part of our lives and culture. Most of us understand that canines are not humans, that they can often show aggressive tendencies, particularly when they feel threatened or someone infringes on their turf. As responsible pet owners, we typically take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of both the dogs and of anyone coming in proximity to the dog. Occasionally, though, dog owners don’t take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of confrontation between their pet and members of the public. When that happens, the consequences can be serious.
When you have been hurt in an unprovoked attack or assault by someone else’s dog in Arlington or elsewhere in Texas, you have a right to seek full and fair compensation for all your losses. To maximize your likelihood of success, you want an experienced attorney to handle your case. You want someone who knows and understands the Texas dog bite laws, who has successfully helped others in similar circumstances. You want Bailey & Galyen.
At Bailey & Galyen, we have protected the rights of personal injury victims throughout Texas for more than 40 years, including men, women and children who have been hurt as the result of a dog bite or attack. We have a well-earned reputation for effective advocacy in personal injury claims, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts over the last four decades for people who have been injured because of someone else’s wrongful acts. We have always relied on hard work, outstanding service and strong communication to help us meet the needs of our clients. We’ll take the time to listen, so that we learn the details of your case, as well as your goals, and can help you make educated decisions about how you want to proceed. We strive to be available and accessible whenever you have questions or concerns.
The Texas Dog Bite and Attack Laws
Most states have written laws (called “statutes”) governing the liability of dog owners when their pets are involved in a physical attack. Texas does not. That does not mean, though, that Texas is without any law setting forth the respective rights of dog bite victims and dog owners after a bite or attack. Texas follows the so-called “one bite” rule set forth in the judicial opinion in the case of Marshall v. Ranne. Under this legal principle, a dog’s owner will be “strictly liable” if the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous or exhibited aggressive tendencies. That means that a person injured by that dog will not need to show that the dog’s owner was careless or negligent in any way (failed to erect an appropriate fence or keep the dog on a leash, for example). If the victim cannot show that the dog’s owner knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressive tendencies, the victim will only be able to recover upon other proof that the dog was vicious.
Getting the Facts Straight about Dogs and Dog Bites
According to governmental statistics, on average, more than 4.5 million Americans are victims of a dog bite every year. Only slightly more than 20%, though (about 900,000), require medical care and less than one in ten (around 350,000) go to the hospital for treatment. Even so, that’s nearly a thousand daily visits to the emergency room for treatment of a dog bite.
With the press attention that’s typically paid to fatal dog bites, you would think it was an epidemic. However, according to government data, the annual number of fatalities related to dog bites in the United States is only about 30—less than the average of 40 people who die every year across the country after being struck by lightning. Additionally, though pit bulls have been blamed for more fatal canine attacks and serious injuries over the last five years than any other breed, American Kennel Club (AKC) research indicates that it’s mostly unrelated to the type of breed. The factors that the AKC most often linked to aggressive behavior in dogs include:
- Owner behavior
- Dog training
- Gender of the dog
- Whether the dog has been neutered
- The location of the dog (urban vs. rural)
Furthermore, the data consistently indicates that pit bulls as a breed have a calmer disposition than beagles, chihuahuas or border collies. Pit bulls have also been found to have one of the weakest bites of all dog breeds—just slightly higher than humans.
Interestingly, though it may seem like a good idea to tether or chain a dog, studies consistently indicate that doing so significantly increases the likelihood that a dog will become aggressive.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Suffered as a Result of a Dog Bite or Animal Attack?
Hospitals and medical professionals report that the most likely injuries due to a dog bite or animal attack include:
- Skin punctures
- Tissue and/or nerve damage
- Face, head and neck injuries, including trauma to the eyes
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional or mental distress or trauma
Who Is Potentially Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury in Arlington?
In most instances, the first party you’ll seek to recover from will be the dog’s owner. You may, however, be able to pursue compensation from a third party, provided you can show that they acted carelessly or negligently, and that their actions led to or caused the attack. For example:
- You may have a claim against a third party who installed a fence or enclosure for the dog, if substandard or shoddy installation caused the dog to escape and cause injury
- You can bring legal action against a third party who harasses a dog, which subsequently attacks you
How Do You Establish Legal Liability in Arlington for a Dog Bite Injury?
Under Texas law, fault may be determined under either of the following circumstances:
- A dog’s owner will be automatically (strictly) liable if he or she knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressive behavior before the attack. In such a situation, you won’t have to prove that the dog owner acted carelessly or negligently.
- Any person, including the dog’s owner or a third party, may be responsible for failing to use reasonable care (acting negligently), thereby creating the circumstances that led the dog to bite or attack you
How Do You Know If You Have a Claim for Damages after a Dog Bite or Attack?
The best way to fully determine and protect your rights after a dog bite or attack is to retain an experienced dog bite attorney. Your lawyer will understand the different facets of the Texas dog bite laws and can evaluate the facts of your case and tell you whether you have a valid claim.
What Types of Damages Are Available after a Dog Bite Injury?
You can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for any loss or injury suffered as a result of a dog bite or attack. That includes:
- Reimbursement of any lost wages or income
- Payment for any unreimbursed medical expenses arising as a result of the attack
- Compensation for your loss of enjoyment of life
- Compensation for any loss of companionship or consortium with family members
- Damages for physical and mental pain and suffering resulting from the attack
- Any property loss or damage
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit in Texas?
Yes. The Texas statute of limitations, which governs how long you have to file legal action, requires that any personal injury claim be filed within two years of the date of your injury or the date you reasonably discovered your injury, whichever comes later.
How Can You Best Protect Your Legal Rights after a Dog Bite in Texas?
Your first step, after any personal injury, including a dog bite or animal attack, is get the medical treatment you need. Once the animal no longer poses any risk, do a quick self-examination to determine the extent and nature of your injuries or ask bystanders to help assess your condition. If necessary, call emergency responders and go to the hospital by ambulance.
Even if you are able to walk away from the attack, seek medical care as soon as possible, either at a hospital ER, an urgent care center or the offices of your primary care physician. Make certain that all medical findings are documented in writing.
You also want to retain experienced legal counsel as soon as possible, so that your rights are not needlessly jeopardized.
The Benefits of Having an Arlington Dog Bite Injury Attorney
The laws governing dog bites and animal attacks in Texas can be difficult to fully understand. With an experienced attorney, you’ll know your rights immediately and will have a knowledgeable professional who can take steps to immediately gather and protect all evidence, identify potential witnesses and obtain statements, if appropriate. Your lawyer will file all documents required by the court in a timely manner, and carefully investigate your case, so that you present the most compelling arguments for your full recovery. Your attorney will also be at your side in all meetings, hearings and proceedings related to your claim, including any interactions with insurers.
What Types of Dog Bite and Animal Attack Claims Does Bailey & Galyen Take?
At Bailey & Galyen, we handle all types of cases related to or arising out of a dog bite or animal attack, including punctures, knockdowns and maulings.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Arlington Dog Bite Attorneys
Don’t suffer in silence another day. Let Bailey & Galyen help you recover full and fair compensation for injuries suffered as the result of a dog bite or animal attack.
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has been hurt by a vicious dog. To arrange a meeting, contact us online or call our offices at 1-844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Evening and weekend appointments can be scheduled, if necessary, and we can travel for an appointment, upon request.
We handle all dog bite and animal attack claims on a contingency basis. We will only charge attorney fees if we recover compensation for your losses.