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Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth Dog/Animal Bite Injury Attorneys

Many of us are dog owners, and we love our dogs just like a family member.  In fact, for 2017-2018, The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 84.6 million households in the United Stated have a pet, and in 2015-2016, 42% of those households have more than one pet.  In fact, in 2017-2018, 60.2 million households in the United States own at least one dog, which is 48.5% of all households.  It is further estimated that in 2017-2018, there were 89.7 million dogs kept as pets in U.S. households. 

Although dogs are a great source of companionship, joy, and laughter, they are animals and sometimes they attack and/or bite causing severe personal injuries.  Bites and attacks from dogs and other animals can cause you and/or your child to suffer from serious physical and mental injuries. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog bites pose a serious health risk to our communities and society. More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At least half of those bitten are children. Here are more dog bite facts:

  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.

As such, liability claims for dog-related injuries have been ticking upward in recent years, with an estimated 18,522 incidents in 2017, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute. That’s up 9.5 percent from 2003.  Payouts for such claims have skyrocketed 93.4 percent over the same period, they found, from an average $19,162 apiece in 2003 to $37,051 in 2017

Our firm believes that you and your family deserve to be safe around someone else’s pets; however, when this is not the case, the attorneys at Chandler | Ross, PLLC will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Our team of experienced dog bite attorneys are here to help you prove that the dog owner is liable for your injuries and to make sure that you are appropriately compensated for any injuries that may be caused by a dog bite.

Proving the Dog Owner’s Liability

Texas does not have a specific statute that covers a dog owner’s liability for damages caused by a dog bite.  Instead, in 1974, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in Marshall v. Ranne that the state would follow the rule stated in Section 509 of the Restatement of Torts. This means that Texas is a “negligence” or “one bite rule” state for purposes of personal injury cases stemming from dog bites. 

The one-bite rule essentially maintains that a dog can attack a person once without the owner being liable. The rationale for this rule is that the dog owner may not be aware that the dog is dangerous until it has proven itself to be. However, this rule also gives the victim of a dog attack a good tool for their civil lawsuit if animal control has received previous reports of the dog’s viciousness.

In a typical Texas dog bite claim, the injured person must show that:

  • the dog’s owner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past, or
  • the dog’s owner negligently failed to use reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite, and as a result, the injured person was bitten.

The exception to the one-bite rule is negligence. If you can prove that the dog attack occurred because of the dog owner’s negligence, it does not matter if it is the first attack or not. For example, if dog owner failed to take reasonable step to restrain his or her dog and a dog is left to roam free, and bites someone, the dog owner’s negligence is the cause of the attack and he or she may be held liable for your damages resulting from the dog bite.

At Chandler | Ross, PLLC our attorneys will work hard to prove that the dog has an established history of viciousness and/or that the dog owner’s negligence caused your injuries.

Strict Liability in Texas Dog Bite Claims

Although the Texas “negligence” rule will likely apply to most dog bites, Texas courts will apply a “strict liability” rule in cases in which the dog is known to be “vicious, dangerous or mischievous,” and the bites resulted from the dog’s known nature. A dog that has bitten a person before may be classified as “dangerous,” whether or not the bite caused serious harm. 

“Strict liability” in this context means that if their injury was caused by a “dangerous dog,” the injured person does not have to demonstrate that the owner also failed to use reasonable care to restrain or control the dog. The injured person will be able to recover damages simply by demonstrating that the dog was known to be dangerous and that the dog caused the injuries.

Children at Risk from Dog Bites

Children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and when they are, the injuries can be more severe.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us. Having a dog in the household is linked to a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.

Diseases You Can Get from Dog Bites

In addition to causing severe personal injuries, dog bites can spread germs from dogs to people. Up to 18% of dog bites become infected with bacteria. Over 60 different kinds of bacteria have been found in dog mouths, but only a handful of these germs can make you sick.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, dog bites can cause the following diseases:

  • Rabies is one of the most serious diseases people can get from dog bites. Although getting rabies from a dog in the United States is rare, it is still a risk. Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Rabies virus is most commonly spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal. The disease can be prevented by vaccinating dogs. People who are bitten by a dog should speak with a healthcare provider to see if rabies vaccination is necessary.
  • Capnocytophaga bacteria live in the mouths of people, dogs, and cats. These bacteria do not make dogs or cats sick. Rarely, Capnocytophaga can spread to people through bites, scratches, or close contact from a dog or cat and cause illness. Most people who have contact with dogs or cats do not become sick, but people with a weakened immune system are at greater risk of becoming sick because it is harder for their bodies to fight infections.
  • Pasteurella is a type of bacteria seen in over half of infected dog bite wounds. Pasteurella commonly causes a painful, red infection at the site of the bite, but can cause a more serious disease in people with weakened immune systems. There may also be swollen glands, swelling in the joints, and difficulty moving.
  • MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to a certain group of antibiotics. Dogs and other animals can carry MRSA without showing any symptoms, but the bacteria can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in people. In some people, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.
  • Tetanus is a toxin produced by a type of bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This toxin causes rigid paralysis in people and could be a problem in deep bite wounds.

If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, cat or other animal, you should speak with a healthcare provider as soon as possible to see what medical treatment is necessary.

Dog/Animal Bite FAQs:

What to do I do if I am bitten or attacked by a dog?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, below are the steps you should take when you bitten or attacked ay a dog:

  1. Protect Yourself
  • Put your purse, bag, or jacket between you and the dog.
  • If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.
  1. Wash Wounds with Soap and Water

When you get to a safe place, immediately wash wounds with soap and water.

  • For minor wounds:
    • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
    • Apply an antibiotic cream.
    • Cover the wound with a clean bandage.
    • See a healthcare provider if the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen; if you develop a fever; or if the dog that bit you was acting strangely.
  • For deep wounds:
    • Apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth to stop the bleeding.
    • If you cannot stop the bleeding or you feel faint or weak, call 911 or your local emergency medical services immediately.
    • See a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • See a healthcare provider:
    • If the wound is serious (uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, muscle or bone exposure, etc.).
    • If the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen, or if you develop a fever.
    • If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
    • If it has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep.
  1. Report the Bite
  • Because anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies, consider contacting your local animal control agency or police department to report the incident, especially:
    • If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
    • If the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.
  • If possible, contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination. You will need the rabies vaccine license number, name of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine, and the owner’s name, address, and phone number.

Should I Go to the Doctor after Being Bitten?

Yes, just as in all injury cases, you should visit the doctor after being injured by a dog or other animal. This will allow you to get your injuries treated and documented.

Do I Need a Rabies/Tetanus Shot?

Immediately a bite or attack from a dog, cat or other domesticated animal, ask the owner for documentation that their rabies vaccinations are up-to-date. If not – or if you were bitten by a wild animal – the animal will likely be taken and quarantined to watch for signs of rabies.

If you are current on your tetanus shots, you probably will not need another tetanus shot. However, your doctor may recommend a booster or tetanus shot after any bite if you are not current on your vaccinations.

How do I Report a Dog Bite?

After being bitten by a dog or other animal, you should immediately contact the police and animal control. Both will document the incident for future record.  In addition, a record of the incident should be filed with animal control. It’s important that you file a report so that the dog’s viciousness is documented for future use.

Are Dog Bites Public Record?

Dog bites are public record. Just as in most injury cases, the official record of what happened will be available to the public. Each state has their own laws regarding the release of such information; in Texas, it is known as the Texas Public Information Act.  You should be able to get the dog bite records from the local police department and/or animal control.

Does Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

In most cases, insurance will cover the damages resulting from a dog bite. The dog owner may not have to pay out of pocket for your injuries and other damages if they have any of the following forms of insurance:

  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Landlord’s insurance
  • Commercial general liability insurance
  • Umbrella insurance policy

Who Can You Sue If A Dog Bites You In Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth?

In addition to a dog owner, a person who harbors or keeps the animal may be liable for a dog bite. For instance, you may be able to hold a landlord liable if a tenant’s dog bit or attacked you in a common area. You would need to show that the landlord:

  • Had actual or imputed knowledge a dog was in a common area or was routinely there
  • Knew the animal had a vicious temperament

If the attack occurred in a rental unit, the landlord may be liable if he/she:

  • Knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities
  • Was aware that the dog was in the unit
  • Could have taken steps to remove the dog and failed to do so

In many cases, a victim may be hesitant to take legal action because the dog’s owner is a neighbor or family friend. However, it is important to know that a claim would not seek a recovery from the dog owner’s personal assets. Instead, a claim would be filed through the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy or another applicable insurance policy.  Your neighbor or family friend should understand.

What Compensation Can You Recover in a Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit?

Our firm understands the importance of seeking just compensation for dog bite victims and, in some cases, their family members as well.  A dog bite can cause serious injuries, including harm to the face, ears, nose, arms and legs. In some cases, the dog will go for the victim’s throat. As a result, most dog bite injuries are deep cuts, punctures, crushing wounds and bone fractures. Cosmetic surgery may also be necessary to repair scars and/or other disfigurement cause by a dog bite. However, some victims may suffer permanent disfigurement or other disabilities.

The average liability claim payout for a dog-related injury claim was $37,051 in 2017, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.  That’s up 93.4 percent from 2003.

If you or a loved one is bitten or injured by a dog, cat or other animal, our attorneys at Chandler | Ross, PLLC, will seek damages that include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost income and diminished future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

Filing a Dog Bite Compensation Claim in Texas

When a dog attacks you, you need an experienced dog bite attorney at your side to help you with the case, collect evidence, deal with dog owner’s and/or property owner’s insurance company, and get you the compensation you are entitled to receive. Even if the dog has no previous reports of viciousness and/or prior bites, the attorneys at Chandler | Ross, PLLC will help you determine if you have a case during our free, no obligation consultation.

With offices in Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas, Chandler | Ross, PLLC is well positioned to provide the most effective and highly-skilled Dog Bite Attorneys possible.  Don’t wait, and don’t compromise – contact us today for a Free Case Evaluation and see how we can help you.  In most cases, you pay nothing unless we are able to settle your case or win a verdict.  Contact Us now at (940)-800-2500 or support@chandlerrosslaw.com to schedule your free personal injury case evaluation and consultation.