If you’ve ever been around a dog that has bitten or attacked someone, you understand the seriousness of the situation. Large dogs, in particular, can cause significant damage with one frightened snap. In a fearful or aggressive attack, they can kill. A dog that has bitten a human is not necessarily bad or unworthy of rehabilitation, but that dog can never be fully trusted again. When owners fail to take reasonable steps to prevent bites and protect others from them, they are responsible for their dogs’ actions.
The Fort Worth personal injury attorneys at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert help Forth Worth dog bite victims understand their options for recovery. Dog bites often involve the pets of friends and family members. You may not want to cause an even bigger rift in your relationship, but standing idly by is not an option. We recognize the sensitive nature of dog bites and can help you navigate any situation involving a dog bite injury or death.
How Can Our Lawyers Help?
Dog bite cases are not your average personal injury claim. Grievous forms of negligence can lead to dogs viciously attacking other people, from irresponsible owners, vicious dog breeders, and poor trainers. In addition, the emotional trauma you can experience due to a dog attack can last for years – making it difficult to even be in the presence of dogs.
If you are suffering from the aftermath of a dog attack, don’t attempt to collect compensation alone. Speak to the attorneys at the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. to assist you with your claim. Hiring an attorney can have numerous benefits to receive compensation for your dog bite injuries.
- At the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., our attorneys have a wealth of resources to use in your case. Litigating dog bite cases in Texas can be difficult because you have to establish that the dog owner or handler acted negligently, leading to your attack. We will thoroughly investigate your case, collecting all pieces of evidence and interviewing witnesses and experts to craft a compelling claim for your compensation.
- When you enter a courtroom for a Texas dog bite case, you will be subject to confusing and brand-new processes you may not be familiar with. When you hire an attorney from our firm, you receive a dog bite lawyer with the experience and training necessary to skillfully navigate the courtroom on your behalf. We know when to file your paperwork, how to argue for your case, and how to prepare you for your court date.
- When you go against a dog owner or trainer in Texas civil court, his or her defense attorney will present a number of arguments to prove that you were liable for your bite. The attorney may imply that you provoked the dog or you were trespassing, which would lower the owner’s liability. At the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., our attorneys know how to navigate these defenses and prepare counterarguments to prove the other party’s negligence.
Most dog bite cases in Texas settle outside of the courtroom. When you are negotiating with the owner and his or her attorney, you may receive a lower offer than you need to fully recover from your injuries. Your attorney will have the negotiation skills necessary to evaluate settlements and argue for a higher payout on your behalf, if necessary.
Average Settlement for Dog Bites
Dog bites are traumatic injuries that can leave behind lasting emotional damage and serious pain. Because of how devastating dog bites can be, the settlement you receive for these injuries can be quite high. Depending on the circumstances of your Texas dog bite case, you can see compensation for your injuries totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Insurance Journal, dog bites comprise nearly one-third of all home insurance claims made in the United States. The number of dog bite cases across the country has increased in recent years, a phenomenon no one can quite explain. The size of the payouts that dog bite victims have received over time has also increased – the average dog bite settlement amount increased by 67% since 2003. Across the country, the total value of settlements for dog attack victims across the United States rose to over $500 million.
Since dog bite settlements vary based on the circumstances of your case, we cannot provide an exact estimate for the amount of compensation you can receive. However, the average dog bite settlement totaled over $32,000 in 2014. This settlement pays for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages for recovery time, and any emotional damage you sustain as a result of the attack. Speak to a dog bite attorney from the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. about your case and your potential compensation options.
Dog Bite Laws and Recovery in Fort Worth
Texas operates under a one-bite rule, meaning that a bite victim can hold the owner financially liable for a bite if the dog had shown aggressive tendencies in the past and the owner knew about the dog’s tendencies. Dog owners are also responsible for following all local and state animal control laws.
In many cities, including Fort Worth, owners must confine their pet dogs to their property using an enclosure that measures at least 48 inches high. Enclosures for aggressive and particularly large dogs should measure at least 60 inches high. While outside of personal property, dog owners must use a leash to restrain a dog – regardless of the dog’s training or history. If an owner violates applicable dog ownership ordinances, a dog bite victim may file a negligence-based claim against the owner.
An owner is not responsible for bites that occur when individuals trespass on private property or provoke a dog. In most cases, an owner’s homeowners insurance policy will cover the expenses associated with a dog bite. However, negotiating with an insurer regarding dog bite coverage can be difficult. Insurers will look for ways to deny or reduce a claim, leaving a dog bite victim to suffer. Our firm specializes in handling insurance claims and lawsuits surrounding dog bite incidents.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
After a dog bite, you may feel compelled to act out against the dog’s owner or the dog itself. However, dog bite victims should take the following steps instead:
- Call animal control. Call the authorities to report the situation, particularly if you feel the dog poses an immediate threat to others. Animal control professionals can identify and quarantine the dog pending the outcome of an investigation.
- Visit a medical professional. A single puncture bite will put individuals at risk for infections and associated health complications. In addition to thorough cleaning, you may need stitches, reconstructive surgery, and antibiotics to fully recover from a single bite or from an attack. Depending on the dog, you may also need a rabies vaccination.
- Record the attack information. Write down everything you remember about the incident and take pictures of the dog, the scene of the incident, and your injuries, if possible. Record witness information and other details to keep in your records.
- Discuss your case with an attorney. What happens after a dog bite is up to you, but our team can help you make an informed decision. Pursuing a claim against the dog’s owner will not only provide you with the compensation you need to recover from a bite, it may also reduce the risk of the dog biting or killing someone in the future.
Proving Liability in a Texas Dog Bite Case
Claiming damages in a Texas dog bite lawsuit requires proof that the owner acted in negligence and failed to control his or her aggressive dog. The owner’s negligence can include failure to use reasonable care to prevent the dog from attacking you or other people, although he or she knew the dog was aggressive.
A dog bite lawsuit must establish one of two facts to successfully prove liability.
- Proof that the dog owner knew that the dog was aggressive or bit other people prior to the incident in question.
- Proof that the owner failed to use an appropriate degree of reasonable care to control his or her dog or prevent the attack, leading to your injuries.
An attorney can prove liability in a number of ways when it comes to dog bite cases. For example, if an owner failed to follow state and local laws involving dog control, such as Fort Worth’s fencing requirements, he or she could be liable for the dog bite.
Texas courts also apply a strict liability rule in certain lawsuits where the dog in question was known to be “vicious, dangerous, or mischievous.” If a dog bites a person, the state classifies the dog as a dangerous dog whether or not the attack led to serious injuries. If a dangerous dog causes your injuries, it is not necessary to prove that the owner failed to use reasonable care. An attorney can prove your case and help you collect damages by proving that the dog is dangerous.
Potential Damages in a Dog Bite Claim
You may receive compensatory damages for economic and non-economic losses in Texas dog bite lawsuits.
- If a dog bite injures you, you may be able to collect compensation for your medical expenses associated with the injury. These medical expenses can include doctor’s bills, medications, ambulance fees, hospitalization costs, and any specialist bills, including physical therapy. You can collect compensation for past and future medical expenses.
- If you had to miss work in order to recover from your dog bite injuries, you can claim compensation for your lost wages. You will need documentation showing your wage and how much work you missed due to the injury. In addition, you will need a letter from your doctor proving that you could not work due to your injuries.
- In many dog bite cases, the injuries can leave you with significant scarring and disfigurement. These permanent injuries can impact you emotionally and physically throughout your life.
- Pain and suffering damages are also available after a dog attack. Being a victim of a dog attack can be very painful, both in the moment and in the days, weeks, or even years following the incident. You may have to obtain significant treatment for both physical and mental injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Lawsuits
In order to successfully file your Texas dog bite claim, you will need to file within the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. According to Texas law, you have two years from the date of your injury to file your claim in civil court. If you do not file your case within this time period, the court will likely dismiss your case.
Why You Need an Attorney for Your Fort Worth Dog Bite Case
Proving negligence in a dog bite case can be challenging without a personal injury attorney on your side. Having an attorney represent you in the courtroom can provide numerous benefits to your case and help facilitate the lawsuit process.
- Your attorney will have a strong knowledge of Texas dog bite law and can help you prepare for your court date. In addition, your attorney will know the potential defenses the at-fault party will use to attempt to disprove your case and prepare rebuttals.
- Your attorney has the resources and experts to conduct a thorough investigation into your case. He will be able to collect enough evidence to craft a compelling argument on your behalf.
- Your attorney will know how to file your court paperwork without any unnecessary errors or delays. Choosing a personal injury attorney can decrease your lawsuit timeline and relieve additional burden on you to file your case.
Our Fort Worth dog bite lawyers at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert are here to discuss your case at any time of day or night. To learn more about our practice or schedule a free case evaluation in Fort Worth, contact our office at (817) 500-4878.