Dog Bite Attorneys in Austin, Texas
Many states have strict liability statutes on injuries caused by dog bites. Texas, however, has no such statute. Instead, the “one bite rule” and common-law negligence govern liability for dog bites.
If you claim injuries under the “one bite rule,” you must prove the dog’s owner or keeper knew that the dog bit or tried to bite somebody in the past. If this is impossible, you must prove the owner or keeper was careless and negligent in controlling their dog and preventing an attack.
COMMON CAUSES OF DOG BITES
Dogs can bite for various reasons, and understanding the common causes of dog bites can prevent a potential bite. Here are the most common causes of dog bites:
- Fear: Fear is a common cause of dog bites when dogs feel threatened or scared by sudden movements, unfamiliar people, new environments, or other animals.
- Pain or Injury: An injured dog may bite to protect itself from further hurting. If a dog feels pain in a particular area, and one handles them in a way that causes more pain, the dog may resort to biting even if the handler meant well. If a dog is whining or growling, it is best to give them space.
- Play: Dogs can also bite during play by accident. A playful nip or bite can turn into a severe bite, especially when they do not know when to stop. It is advisable not to play aggressive games such as tug of war or with newly adopted shelter pups.
- Territorial Behavior: Dogs may try to protect their property, such as puppies, food, toys, or territory, and may be aggressive when a stranger or another dog enters their space.
- Frustration: When dogs become frustrated, they may redirect their aggression toward someone causing a bite. For example, trying to break a dog fight can make either dog turn on you aggressively.
Regardless of the cause, dog bites can result in serious physical injuries and financial losses. A dog bite lawyer in Austin can help protect your rights and pursue rightful compensation for your injuries and damages.
TIPS FOR PREVENTING DOG BITES
Dog bites can be prevented in several ways. These include:
- Understanding Dog Behaviour: Understanding a dog’s body language is essential for preventing dog bites. Dogs often give warning signs such as growling, showing teeth, or barking just before a bite. Learn to recognize such signs and give the dog its space.
- Avoiding Risky Behaviour: Avoid risky behavior that can agitate a dog, such as approaching unfamiliar dogs, confronting or disrupting a dog while eating, sleeping, or caring for its puppies.
- Educating Children on How To Approach Dogs: Children’s risk of dog bites is higher due to a lack of knowledge. Teaching them to always ask permission before petting a dog, approach slowly, and avoid restrained dogs can prevent severe potential dog bites.
If approached by an aggressive dog:
- Do not run away
- Remain calm and quiet
- Be still, with your arms folded over your chest or sides
- Avoid making eye contact with the dog
Even with the best prevention strategies, dog bites still happen. In such situations, it is essential to seek the help of a dog bite attorney Austin who can provide you with guidance and legal support during this challenging time.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BITTEN BY A DOG
In the unfortunate event that a dog bites you, it is essential to take the following steps to prevent infection:
- Identify the Dog’s Owner: Obtain the dog’s owner’s name, phone number, and address. This information can be helpful if you need to file a claim against them.
- Collect Witness Information: Witnesses to the bite incident can help support your case in a lawsuit. Therefore, collect the names and contact information of anyone who saw the dog bite incident.
- Gather Evidence: Document the incident by taking pictures of the injury and where the attack happened. The photos can provide valuable evidence of the extent of the injury, hold the dog owner responsible and help in any legal proceedings.
- Seek Medical Attention: Seek medical attention immediately. Even if the injury is minor, it is crucial to see a doctor, as some cases require tetanus shots and antibiotics.
- Report the Bite: Report the bite to the local animal control authority if you have been bitten by an unfamiliar dog or the dog shows signs of aggression.
- Consult With a Lawyer: If someone else’s dog has bitten you, consulting with a dog bite attorney in Austin is essential. The attorney can help negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or represent you in court to prove the owner’s negligence and get you the compensation you deserve.
If you face significant medical bills, lost income, and other damages, contact the dog bite lawyer Austin to understand your legal options.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF DOG BITE CASES IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
The law in Austin, Texas, has two policies that address dog bite cases.
One is ‘negligence,’ where the injured party has to prove that the dog owner displayed negligence or lack of prudence and care to restrain the animal to prevent the dog bite from happening.
The second policy is the “one-bite rule,” which states that a dog owner cannot be held liable for the first bite their dog inflicts on a victim. However, if the dog is known to be aggressive, the owner is aware of the dog’s propensity to bite and has failed to do anything about it, and they can be held liable for the bite.
If you are a dog bite victim, the experienced dog bite lawyer Austin at Glen Larson Law can help you collect evidence for your case, prove the owner’s negligence and get you fair compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered.
Glen Larson Law dog bite attorney Austin legal team can help you in negotiations with insurance companies or filing for a lawsuit to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
NEGLIGENCE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE “ONE BITE RULE”
In Texas, negligence is the failure to do what an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would do. In a dog bite case, negligence must be the proximate cause of your injuries.
To prove negligence was the proximate cause, you will need to prove all the following elements:
- The defendant owned or cared for the dog;
- The defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care in preventing the dog from injuring others;
- The defendant breached this duty; and
- The breach of duty proximately caused your injuries.
If you fail to prove even one of these elements, the court will dismiss your case completely.
Here are a few common examples of negligence in Texas dog-bite cases.
NEGLIGENCE PER SE
Negligence per se is when a person violates a statute or ordinance, and that violation causes an injury that the statute or ordinance was intended to prevent. For example, if a dog bit you when its owner allowed it to run at large, a court would likely deem your injury the consequence of the owner’s negligence per se.
To establish negligence per se, the court will need to recognize all of the following factors:
- The defendant violated a statute or ordinance;
- The violation caused your injuries;
- The violation caused the type of harm that the statute or ordinance was intended to prevent; and
- You were a member of the population segment that the statute or ordinance was intended to protect.
If a tenant knows that the dog they own or keep on leased premises is dangerous, the tenant’s landlord can be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog. The landlord must have either known or should have known about the dog’s vicious propensities, and the attack must have occurred in a common area that was under the control of the landlord.
Under Texas comparative negligence law, you may be held partially at fault for your own injuries in certain cases. Any percentage of fault the court attributes to you will be deducted from your gross award. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 for a dog attack, but the jury determines you were 25% at fault for accidentally stepping on the dog’s tail, you would only receive $75,000.
Because Texas is a modified comparative negligence state, you will not receive any compensation if you were more than 50% at fault.
CHILDREN AND COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
Given their size, children often suffer serious head, eye, ear, facial, and neck injuries when attacked by a dog. Generally, children under 6 years old cannot be considered comparatively negligent. Some believe children cannot be found negligent in any capacity, but any person 6 years or older is held to certain liability standards. Furthermore, a court may determine a child younger than 6 is comparatively negligent if the child was conscious of the possible consequences of their actions.
DEFENSES IN AUSTIN DOG BITE CASES
Given the Texas “one bite rule,” a dog owner might be able to avoid liability after an attack by simply denying that the dog ever bit or attempted to bite someone in the past. The dog owner might even argue that the dog was defending them, or it would never have attacked you if you hadn’t provoked the dog. In some cases, you may even be accused of trespassing.
CONTACT OUR FIRM FOR SKILLED LEGAL SUPPORT AND REPRESENTATION
If you sustained injuries from a dog bite in Texas, you have two years from the date of injury to file your personal injury lawsuit. Failure to file the lawsuit within this statute of limitations will likely cause the case to be dismissed forever. If you were a minor at the time of the attack, you will have until two years from your 18th birthday to file.
Due to interactions between the “one bite rule,” the law of negligence, and allegations of comparative negligence, any Austin dog bite case may become extraordinarily complex. The opposing insurance company will want you to give a recorded statement about what happened, but Texas law does not require you to give provide any type of statement. Politely refuse and contact Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys. We are ready to listen closely to your situation and answer any questions you have. We will then provide comprehensive legal counsel so you can select the most appropriate method of attaining the compensation you need.