Many times, dog bite victims are not only confused emotionally, but are also hurting physically. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you need help, and there are certain things you must do to protect and preserve your dog bite injury claim. The San Antonio Texas dog bite lawyers at our injury law firm are here to help you through this difficult time, and to answer your important and urgent questions.
Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their pets restrained or on a leash, especially when their dogs are around other people. This responsibility also means that owners can be held accountable if their dogs bite. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, call our dog attack injury lawyers to speak with one of our San Antonio dog bite attorneys. Our Texas dog attack lawyers are dedicated to holding dog owners accountable, and we’ll do everything we can to get you the maximum value for your claim.
How Common Are Dog Bites in Texas?
You should never assume your safety around someone else’s dog. If something happens to provoke the dog while you are nearby, you may end up getting attacked.
Per the Texas Department of State Health Services, an estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually. Around 800,000 of those dog bite victims require medical attention at some point.
The Lone Star State also often finishes near the top of dog bite-related deaths yearly. The numbers only get more troubling as you continue to dig deeper. For instance, about half of the victims are children. Next to kids, the elderly are most likely to be victimized by dogs. When you consider who the victims typically are in dog attacks, it is not difficult to see why so many of them need to go to the hospital.
Whether you or someone else in your family was attacked by a dog, taking action quickly is a must. Call a dog bite injury attorney and start working on your lawsuit.
How Bad Are Dog Bite Injuries?
Before we get into the steps you must take following a vicious canine attack, let’s first highlight how significant dog bite injuries could be. We have outlined those potential injuries below.
Dog bites can easily lead to lacerations forming on your skin. If you have lacerations, the dog that attacked you broke through your skin during its attack. Lacerations can be painful and may also cause plenty of bleeding. You will likely need professional medical attention if the attack led to lacerations.
Notably, lacerations may be the least of your worries if a dog recently bit you.
Puncture wounds are more serious versions of lacerations. They are deeper, and they are also more likely to cause significant damage. Deep puncture wounds are also symptomatic of muscular tears and soft tissue injuries. Heading to the emergency room is likely necessary if you have puncture wounds.
Dogs can be surprisingly powerful. Their jaw strength, in particular, may catch you off guard. A vicious dog can land a bite that is strong enough to break a bone. That can happen if they land a solid bite on one of your limbs. You may be left hobbled for a long time after suffering from a dog attack.
Victims of dog attacks also must worry about potential infections. For instance, you may develop a Capnocytophaga infection. According to the CDC, Capnocytophaga infections may cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. You may also start to develop swelling and blisters on the affected area.
In serious cases, Capnocytophaga infections may cause kidney problems, heart attacks, and gangrene. As scary as a Capnocytophaga infection is, it is still not the most severe infection you may pick up from a dog attack. Dogs can also spread the rabies virus through biting. If you contract the rabies virus, you may soon suffer from spasms, paralysis, and an inability to keep water down. Rabies infections are also notorious for being fatal.
The Steps You Must Take Following a Texas Dog Bite Incident
Dogs are our best friends in the animal kingdom, but we all know they have a vicious side to them. If you are on the bad end of a dog bite, you will never forget that. Of course, excruciating pain is not the only reason dog bite injuries are so difficult to deal with. Moving forward, you may also have serious injuries due to the attack.
What should you do if you were the individual on the bad end of a canine attack? The way you respond in the immediate aftermath of being attacked by a dog could have huge ramifications. Your response could determine how well you can recover from the attack. Fail to take the right steps, and you could end up sustaining serious injuries that affect you for the rest of your life.
Furthermore, you may also cost yourself potential compensation if you do something wrong. Knowing what to do following a dog attack is essential. Keep the following tips in mind so you will know what to do if you ever find yourself in that unfortunate situation.
Stop the Bleeding
We already know that dog bites can lead to injuries that cause plenty of bleeding. The risk of going into shock from a dog bite is not high, but it could still happen if the wounds are bleeding badly enough.
Your priority should be to stop that bleeding. To do that, you will need to get a clean piece of cloth. Use that clean cloth to apply direct pressure onto your wound. Apply force using one of your hands to get the right amount of pressure.
If you are too weak to exert the pressure needed, ask someone nearby to press on the wound for you. Ask them to put on latex gloves before they start applying pressure onto your wound to prevent any bacteria from entering your wound. The person applying the pressure should at least wash their hands if they have no gloves available. Continue applying pressure onto the wound until the bleeding stops.
Wash Your Wounds
Remember that dog bites can lead to infections. Bacteria from the dog’s mouth could enter your body after the attack. The bacteria can cause all kinds of havoc after entering your body. You need to do what you can to prevent a potential infection. Washing your wounds will help with that.
Go to the nearest faucet and turn on the tap for the warm water. Position your hands or legs under the warm water and let it wash over your wounds. After rinsing, you should now use some mild soap to clean the wounds you sustained from the attack. Using mild soap is highly recommended because washing with other cleaning agents could be painful. Wash your wounds for about five minutes to eliminate as much bacteria as possible.
Apply Antibacterial Ointment on Your Wounds
You must do whatever you can to minimize your chances of developing an infection. Washing your wounds will help, but soap and water can only do so much. To further shield yourself from a possible infection, you need to apply some antibacterial ointment.
You can buy antibacterial ointments over the counter at pharmacies. You can ask a friend or family member to quickly pick some up for you following the attack. Use enough antibacterial ointment to cover the wound before moving forward to the next step. Reapplying the ointment may also be necessary to maintain the protection of the wound.
Wrap Your Wounds in Sterile Bandages
Open wounds are dangerous because of their exposure to foreign bodies. You are more susceptible to infections because of those open wounds you got from the attack. Take the time to cover those wounds while you await further treatment. Use only sterile bandages to reduce the chances of an infection developing.
Changing the bandages periodically is also a good idea. Make sure you clean the wound first before applying a new bandage.
Obtain Information from the Owner of the Dog
Avoid leaving the place without speaking to its owner first. At some point, you will likely seek compensation from them, so getting a hold of them will be important. Ask for the dog owner’s name and contact details. While you are at it, you should also seek information about their pet.
Try to get as many details as you can from the dog owner. Put forth questions specifically about the dog’s history when it comes to attacking people. Ask if their dog has attacked someone before. Down the line, those bits of information you picked up could help bolster your lawsuit.
Collect Information from Nearby Witnesses
The owner is not the only person you should be talking to. If the attack happened in a public space or at an event where people are gathered, then you can speak to witnesses as well.
Talk to the people who saw the attack and ask them to describe the incident. If you have your phone with you, you can record their statements if they consent to that. Witness testimony is crucial in dog bite cases. Because cases like these often end up with both sides pushing their version of the events, it would be great to have unbiased witnesses. Remember to get the contact details of the witnesses so you can reach out to them if necessary.
Go to the Doctor
Now that you have done everything you can at the scene of the dog bite incident, you should continue with your treatment. Go to the doctor as soon as you can and get your injuries checked out. They can assess the severity of your injuries and inform you about your treatment options.
If you have a serious injury, going to the doctor may be the first thing you need to do. Do not avoid paying a visit to the doctor simply because you think your injuries are not that bad. Not going to the doctor is simply a bad move on your part.
For starters, you cannot properly assess the severity of your injuries. Some of your injuries may be worse than they initially seem, so get them checked out. On top of that, the doctor’s findings could prove useful when you decide to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. Their findings could indicate why you deserve substantial compensation.
Track the Progress of Your Injuries
While recovering from the attack, you can take the time to document your progress. Take photos or videos of your wounds to illustrate your injuries from the other party’s dog.
This is yet another way that you can bolster your case and prove that you are deserving of compensation. You can also show how your injuries may affect you long-term by tracking your progress.
Avoid Speaking to the Dog Owner’s Representatives
You may receive an unexpected phone call while you are resting at home. The person on the other line could be the other party’s insurer or their lawyer. Why are they calling? Well, chances are they are calling to gauge your interest in negotiating a settlement.
The other party may be aware that you sustained some pretty nasty injuries from the attack. Because of that, they are offering you a settlement so they will not need to make a larger payment that is court-ordered.
If you have already racked up hefty medical expenses due to your injuries, you will likely be tempted to accept the offer they put forth. Truthfully, their settlement offer may prove to be quite appealing. Or at least it may seem that way if you did not know any better.
Do not forget that the insurer is aiming to avoid a large payout. Meanwhile, the other party’s lawyer is trying to minimize the potential financial cost that this case could have on their client.
The other party’s representatives are probably not offering you a good deal. It would be better to avoid talking to them altogether. Alternatively, you can also ask your lawyer to speak to them.
Report the Incident to Animal Control
Reporting what happened to animal control is important for two reasons. First off, informing animal control allows them to investigate the dog. They can investigate the case and determine if the dog that attacked you is dangerous. If they deem it dangerous, they can take further action to minimize the threat it poses to your community.
Secondly, you can also learn more information about the dog after speaking to animal control. If that dog has attacked someone in the past, then animal control can tell you about that.
Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer
Lastly, you will need to hire a lawyer if you are aiming to recoup compensation from the dog owner. Dog bite cases can get complicated. According to Texas Law, a dog owner can be liable for the attack if they were criminally negligent in securing their pet and if the attack was unprovoked and occurred away from their property.
An owner can also be responsible if their pet attacked someone unprovoked and they already knew that their dog was dangerous. Proving that the attack was unprovoked or that the owner was negligent will be critical to the success of your lawsuit. You must partner with a skilled lawyer who can clearly illustrate those facts in your case.
The other side may also claim that you were trespassing, and that was the reason behind the attack. Refuting that bogus claim will be easier if you have an experienced attorney on your side. Securing expert legal assistance is important if you want to receive compensation following an unprovoked dog attack. Allow us at Barrus Injury Lawyers to provide that service. Contact us today and let us handle your dog bite case.
Why It is Important to Hire a Lawyer after a Dog Bite
One of the things you must do in the immediate aftermath of a dog attack is to call a lawyer. You want a dog bite injury lawyer involved in your case ASAP because the services they provide will be invaluable during this time.
Gather Evidence to Bolster Your Dog Bite Case
In the wake of the attack, the dog owner may start making false claims to undermine your lawsuit. For example, they may claim that you were provoking their dog before the attack or threatening them in some way. The dog owner may also state that they had no idea their pet was capable of such an attack.
Your dog attack lawyer can help you push back against those claims. They can investigate the dog in question and highlight previous instances hinting at its vicious tendencies. They can also collect video evidence and witness testimony to prove that the attack was unprovoked.
Secure Proper Compensation in Your Case
Whether you are planning to take your case to court or negotiate a settlement, the assistance of your dog bite injury lawyer will prove vital.
With your doctor, your lawyer can help determine the damages in your case. Then, with that number in hand, your lawyer can negotiate with the other side until they get a favorable offer. If no such offer emerges, you can go to court knowing exactly how much you should receive based on the losses you have suffered.
Buy You Recovery Time
With medical bills piling up, you may feel the need to rush through your recovery so you can file your lawsuit. However, jeopardizing your health like that is not necessary. Partner with a dog bite law firm and have them handle your case. Let them make the necessary preparations to jump in later when you have fully recovered.
Understanding Texas Dog Bite Laws
Do you have a dog bite case on your hands? Answering that question should be your priority as you sort through the aftermath. To get some clarity on the matter, let’s discuss some of the most important aspects of Texas’ dog bite laws.
The Responsibility of the Dog Owner
You must keep your dog on a leash if you take it to the park or other public space. It does not matter how well-behaved you think your pet is; you must always control them with a leash. According to Texas law, failing to secure your dog while in a public space makes you liable. The victim can sue you for negligence because you did not secure your pet.
The Role of Provocation
A pet owner staring down a potential lawsuit may claim that you provoked their dog. They may claim that you were teasing or abusing their dog, eventually leading to an attack. You may have seen it as playing, but the pet owner may describe it as something else now that you are suing them.
Provocation in these cases is not limited to teasing or abuse. A pet owner may also claim that you provoked the dog attack because you were trespassing on their property. However, their dog was protecting their property, so the attack was justified.
The Element of Invitation
If the dog owner claims you were trespassing on their property when the attack occurred, you can counter that claim by mentioning that they invited you.
Save the text message they sent you when they invited you and use that as evidence that you were not trespassing. Do not worry if that text message does not exist. Your dog bite attorney can still speak to witnesses who can confirm that they invited you to the property.
Is There a “One Bite” Rule in Texas?
Texas does follow the so-called “One Bite Rule,” but this title is really somewhat misleading. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog’s owner isn’t liable if the dog has never bitten someone before…in other words, they really don’t get “one free bite” before the owner can be held liable.
In the case Marshall v. Ranne, the Texas Supreme Court applied the Restatement of Torts, Section 509, which sets forth the doctrine that is often called the “one free bite rule.” The doctrine basically sets forth a two-part test that needs to be met before an animal’s owner can be held liable for biting or attacking someone. The injured person must show both:
The animal had a propensity to harm another (either because it had bitten someone before, or acted in an aggressive manner, like it was going to bite someone), AND the defendant (owner) was aware of the previous aggressive conduct. If either of the two conditions aren’t met, it will be difficult to hold the animal’s owner liable under a theory of negligence.
Exceptions to the “One Free Bite” Rule
There are several exceptions to the “one free bite” rule, and depending on the facts of your case, there could be other ways to hold the owner of a dog accountable for your injuries.
- Negligence Per Se: For example, if the animal’s owner was in violation of animal control laws, such as leash laws, or owning an illegal animal (like a tiger), etc. the owner may be held liable under a “negligence per se” theory because it’s presumed that they are negligence because they were breaking the law at the time of the attack.
- Vicious Animal Exception: Under the “one free bite” theory outlined above, all an injured person needs to prove is that the dog’s owner knew or should have known that the dog had dangerous propensities. There are certain breeds of dogs, such as Pit Bulls, where the owner of such an animal is automatically put on notice of the dog’s dangerous propensities, and therefore they knew or should have known of the possibility that the dog would bite someone. Owners of these animals will have a difficult time relying on the fact that the dog hadn’t bitten anyone as a defense strategy.
Hiring a dog bite lawyer is even more important because the “one bite” rule applies in Texas. Your lawyer can start investigating records related to the dog that attacked you. If a previous incident hinted at the dog’s dangerous tendencies, your lawyer would uncover that.
Notably, a previous instance where the dog bit someone is not exactly necessary to discredit a defense based on the “one bite” rule. A previous incident where the dog acted aggressively towards another person may already suffice for discrediting that tactic.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Claim Worth?
The value of your dog bite claim depends on the economic and non-economic losses you sustained.
Economic losses account for your monetary losses. These may include your medical bills, lost wages, and damaged property. If you had to undergo surgery following the attack, your dog bite claim’s value would increase.
Non-economic losses should compensate you for the losses that you cannot quantify. Common examples of non-economic losses include mental anguish, lost opportunities, and loss of enjoyment of life. The courts use special methods to calculate the non-economic losses in personal injury lawsuits.
Once you have combined your economic and non-economic losses, you should have a good idea of how much compensation you should receive.
Who Is Liable to Pay My Medical Bills After a Dog Bite?
The owner of an animal, and in some cases the guardian or keeper of an animal who bites you is liable to pay for your medical bills and other damages (or their homeowner’s insurance will) as long as you’re able to meet the two part test outlined above in the “Does Texas Have a “One Free Bite” Rule?” section.
Does It Matter If I Was On The Dog Owner’s Property?
Being on a dog owner’s property doesn’t automatically mean you don’t have a case. It just depends on the circumstances. For example, if your child was invited to a birthday party at another child’s home, and the homeowner’s dog bites your child, you would likely have a case.
Often times this is hard for injured victims because they are hurt, and are likely in shock at what happened. This often causes people to delay, allowing important evidence to slip away, get lost, or even destroyed. Sometimes the dog is moved to a family member’s house, and the owner will claim it wasn’t their dog, etc.
Don’t risk your case by failing to handle your case quickly from the start. You should be focused on getting better, and we’ll focus on gathering evidence for your case. After all, we don’t charge any fee upfront, and you never pay us a penny until we get you a recovery – that is our No Fee Guarantee to you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Texas?
Immediate action is warranted if you want to pursue a dog bite lawsuit in Texas. That is because the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in the Lone Star State is at only two years. More specifically, you have two years to file the lawsuit from the day the incident occurred.
File your lawsuit on time unless you want them to dismiss it in court. Once you present your lawsuit, the defense can point out that the time limit has passed, and that will be it for you. Do not expect to receive any compensation at that point.
This is another reason you should hire a lawyer. They can organize and file your lawsuit while you continue to recover.
Dog Bite Law Firm
Our first priority is to make sure you get better. We understand that dealing with dog bite injuries can be difficult, and financially burdensome – this is why we do everything we can to make sure you get the help you need.
Our San Antonio dog bite lawyers can help make arrangements for your medical care, and if you can’t make it to our office for a free consultation, we can come to you.
Some of the cities in Bexar County which our dog bite law firm serves include: San Antonio, Kirby, Leon Valley, Converse, Live Oak, Universal City, Schertz, New Braunfels, Pleasanton, Seguin, Canyon Lake, Hondo, San Marcos, Kyle, Kerryville and Lockhart.