According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people each year, with about 800,000 needing medical attention. Dogs most often bite children, whose small statures lead to the most severe dog bite injuries. In rare cases, dog bites might even be fatal. Most dogs are family pets that are sweet and don’t show signs of aggression, but when they are feeling stressed or trapped, even the friendliest domesticated dogs might attack. Furthermore, irresponsible owners that fail to socialize and train their dogs contribute to the problem.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you might be able to recover compensation for expenses related to your injuries. Contact one of the skilled members of the legal team at the Law Offices of George Salinas, located in Austin, Texas, at (512) 851-1004 and have an experienced dog bite lawyer evaluate your case.
Our Past Results in Dog Bite Injury Claims
At the Law Offices of George Salinas, our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with all types of personal injury claims, including those that involve dog bites. Cases vary based on the severity and circumstances surrounding an injury, and we cannot guarantee a favorable result in any particular case. However, in past cases, our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Our skilled personal injury attorneys always strive for the best possible outcome in every case.
Common Injuries That Result From a Dog Bite
The most common injuries sustained by victims of dog attacks include:
- Transmission of deadly diseases and bacterial infections, including rabies, tetanus, and MRSA
- Severe flesh wounds, including tears, cuts, and lacerations
- Soft tissue damage to tendons, ligaments, and muscles
- Psychological trauma from the dog attack, especially in minors
- Scarring and disfigurement
Texas Laws Regarding Dog Ownership
Texas civil code doesn’t speak directly to dog attacks or dog bites. Instead, Texas courts rely on a 1974 Texas Supreme Court ruling to guide their decisions about liability and dog bites.
Texas Supreme Court Precedent
In Marshall v. Ranne, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against John Ranne after his dog bit Paul Marshall. The lower court had determined that Marshall assumed risk by approaching Ranne’s dog. However, the Texas Supreme Court concluded that victims could seek compensation on the grounds of negligence and established the state’s one bite rule.
One Bite Rule
Under Texas’s one bite rule, a plaintiff may not collect damages for a dog bite injury unless he or she proves that the dog behaved aggressively or previously bit someone. The plaintiff must also prove that the dog owner knew of the dog’s previous attacks, bites, or aggressive behavior.
Proving negligence in a dog bite injury case is similar to proving negligence in any other type of personal injury case. The plaintiff must prove the following four elements:
- The defendant had possession of the dog.
- The defendant owed a reasonable duty of care to others by preventing the dog from inflicting harm.
- The defendant breached that duty of care, and
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s dog bite injury.
Animal Control Violations
A court may also rule that dog owners are negligent when they violate animal control laws and their violation causes an injury. This type of liability is often associated with owners who tie up their dogs for long periods of time and leave them unattended. For example, if a dog owner ties a dog outside within 500 feet of a school or daycare center, the court may hold the dog owner liable in the event that the dog bites an approaching child.
Failure to Stop a Dog Attack in Progress
In a 2008 dog bite case, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that dog owners and bystanders who witness a dog attack must make a reasonable effort to stop the attack, or the court can hold them liable for any resulting injuries.
Animal Control in Austin
If you or your child has suffered a dog bite injury in Austin, you need to submit a notarized bite affidavit to the city’s Animal Control Department. If the city determines that the dog is dangerous, the owner will be required to restrain the dog in an enclosure at all times and purchase a $100,000 liability insurance policy. If the dog attacks a second time, the court may issue a kill order. Additionally, the city places the owner and dog on a dangerous dog registry, so residents are aware of neighbors who possess a dog that has bitten someone previously.
What Compensation Might You Recover Following a Dog Attack?
Dog bite injuries can range in severity, but those that cause serious injuries might entitle you to recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance and emergency services, hospital stays, surgeries, and prescription medications
- Future medical costs, especially when victims need multiple reconstructive surgeries
- Psychologist or therapist expenses, especially for children
- Lost wages for time missed from work
- Lost earning capacity if a dog bite results in a long-term disability
- Pain and suffering for the emotional trauma of a dog bite injury
- Additional damages if you are a parent or family member that watched your child get attacked by a dog
- In the rare case of death, the victim’s surviving family may be able to recover burial and funeral expenses. If your loved one died as a result of a dog bite injury, you should discuss the viability of filing a wrongful death claim with your attorney.
Hire Our Austin Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite, you need to focus on healing and rehabilitation rather than worry about a legal proceeding. A skilled personal injury attorney will investigate the circumstances of your case, contact potential witnesses, and advocate for you so that responsible parties are held liable. If you live in the Austin area, call the Law Offices of George Salinas at (512) 851-1004, or contact us online, for a free consultation and to discuss the details of your case and determine your eligibility for compensation.
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