Defending Your Rights and Securing Your Compensation
For most of us, a dog doesn’t present a threat. We may see a pooch wandering off-leash and simply smile. That’s why it can be so traumatic when we’re the victims of a dog bite or attack. The injuries sustained in such an incident can be serious, often leading to permanent physical and emotional scarring.
When you have been the victim of an unprovoked attack or assault by someone else’s dog, you want an experienced attorney to help you pursue full and fair compensation for all your losses. You want someone who understands the Texas dog bite laws, who has successfully helped others in similar circumstances. You want Bailey & Galyen.
At Bailey & Galyen, we have aggressively represented personal injury victims across Texas for more than four decades, including people who have suffered any type of injury as the result of a dog bite or attack. We have a well-earned reputation for thorough and successful advocacy in personal injury claims and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for people who have been injured because of someone else’s wrongful acts. We place a premium on hard work and strong communication. We’ll take the time to listen, so that we learn the details of your case, as well as your objectives. We strive to be available and accessible whenever you have questions or concerns.
The Texas Laws Establishing Liability for Dog Bites
Unlike most other states, Texas does not have a written law establishing liability when a person is bitten by a dog. Instead, the law setting forth the respective rights of dog bite victims and dog owners comes from the judicial opinion in the case of Marshall v. Ranne. This case sets forth what is commonly referred to in Texas as the “one bite rule.” Under this approach, a dog owner will automatically be responsible if he/she knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous or exhibited aggressive tendencies. In the absence of such evidence, though, the victim can only recover upon proof that the dog was vicious.
The Facts and Statistics about Dogs and Dog Bites
According to data collected by various governmental entities, about 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog every year. Only slightly more than 20%, however (885,000) need medical treatment and less than one in ten (about 350,000) make a trip to the hospital. Nonetheless, that’s around a thousand daily ER visits for treatment of a dog bite.
With the press attention that’s typically paid to fatal dog bites, it may come as a surprise that the annual number of fatalities related to dog bites in the United States is just 30. Compare that to the number of people nationwide who die in a given year after being struck by lightning (about 40). Additionally, while pit bulls have been responsible for more fatal attacks and serious injuries than other breeds over the last five years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) says research insists that it has little or nothing to do with the breed. The factors most often tied 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)
Though it may seem like a good idea to tether or chain a dog, studies show that doing so significantly increases the risk that a dog will be aggressive. 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.
What Injuries Are Most Common as a Result of a Dog Bite or Animal Attack?
The injuries most often reported after a dog bite or 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 Can You Potentially Sue for a Dog Bite Injury in Fort Worth?
In most instances, the dog’s owner will be the one with primary responsibility for a dog bite or attack. There are, however, situations where you may be able to seek compensation from a third party, provided you can show that their actions constituted negligence and led to or caused the attack. Examples include:
- The person who installed a fence or enclosure for the dog, if carelessness in the installation causes the dog to escape and cause injury
- A third party who harasses a dog, which subsequently attack you
What Are the Circumstances When a Person Will Be Legally Responsible for Your Dog Bite Injuries?
Texas law imposes liability on a dog owner under two different scenarios:
- The 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. If that’s the case, you won’t have to show that the dog owner was careless in any way.
- Any person, including the dog’s owner, may be responsible under a theory of negligence for failing to use reasonable care, thereby creating the circumstances that led the dog to bite or attack you
Do You Have a Claim for Damages as a Result of a Dog Bite?
The most effective way to determine your rights after a dog bite or attack is to hire an experienced dog bite lawyer. Your attorney 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 Compensation Can You Recover after a Dog Bite Injury?
You have a legal right to pursue financial compensation for any loss or injury caused by a dog bite or attack:
- Reimbursement of any wages or income lost because of your injuries
- Payment of any unreimbursed medical expenses related to the attack
- Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life
- Compensation for loss of companionship or consortium
- Damages for physical and mental pain and suffering resulting from the attack
- Any property loss or damage
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit in Texas?
As with any personal injury claim, there’s a time limit for filing a lawsuit, under what is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. In Texas, you must initiate any legal action to recover losses in a personal injury claim within two years of the date of your injury or the date you reasonably discovered your injury, whichever comes later.
Protecting Your Legal Rights after a Dog Bite in Texas
The first thing you want to do after any personal injury, including a dog bite or animal attack, is get the medical attention you need. Once the animal has been safely restrained, conduct a self-examination to determine the extent of your injuries or ask bystanders to assess your condition. If necessary, call emergency responders and take an ambulance to the hospital.
Even if you are able to walk away from the attack, get medical treatment as soon as possible, either at a hospital emergency room, an urgent care center or the offices of your primary care physician. Make certain that medical professionals document in writing all injuries you sustained in the attack.
You also want to retain experienced legal counsel as soon as possible, so that your rights are not needlessly jeopardized.
The Benefits of Having a Fort Worth 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.
The Types of Dog Bite Cases We Handle
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.
We Offer Free Consultations with Our Fort Worth 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.