Fort Worth Dog Bite Lawyers
CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH FORT WORTH DOG BITES LAWYERS FOR FREE
We think of dogs as our faithful, loveable companions, but sometimes dogs bite people. Dog bites may be serious, and sometimes life-threatening, often resulting in infections or even permanent disfigurement. The victims of dog bites are often the most vulnerable, such as children and the elderly.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Fort Worth, call the experienced dog bite attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we are unable to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT IS THE ONE BITE RULE?
In Texas, if you have been bitten by a dog, your Fort Worth dog bite lawyer may be able to use the “one bite rule” to hold the owner of the dog liable. The Texas Supreme Court established the “one bite rule” in the Marshall v. Ranne case, where the Court announced that a dog owner could be held strictly liable for any damages caused by a dog that was known to be dangerous, such as if it had ever bitten someone before. Despite the common term for the rule being “one bite,” the dog does not necessarily have to have bitten a person previously for the rule to apply. If it can be demonstrated that the dog’s owner should have been aware that the dog was dangerous or had vicious tendencies, the dog owner can be held liable for the dog’s actions.
For example, if in the past, a dog has behaved in an aggressive manner such as chasing and growling at people, even if it did not ultimately bite them, this may be evidence that can be used to demonstrate that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s violent tendencies, which could allow the owner to be held strictly liable for the dog bite under Texas law. Strict liability means it would not be necessary to prove the owner of the dog was negligent in their handling of the dog for the dog owner to be found liable. Under strict liability, the dog owner also cannot claim that the victim did something to entice or provoke the dog to bite them as a defense.
DOG INJURY LAWS
Under Sec. 6-13 of the Fort Worth Code of Ordinances, dog owners are required to keep their dogs within a secure enclosure of at least 48 inches in height, which separates the dog from people and other animals not belonging to the same owner. If the dog is a breed that has been declared aggressive, the fencing must be at least 72 inches in height. Such enclosures should be constructed of an appropriate material approved by the Animal Control office and should be constructed so as to prevent the animal from escaping. When taken off the property, such as when taken for a walk, dogs must be restrained at all times, meaning that the dog must be on a leash and accompanied by its owner.
In addition to the “one bite rule” established by the Texas Supreme Court, Sec. 6-1 defines an “aggressive dog” as any dog that has:
- Repeatedly attacked and injured other domestic animals within the same enclosure, except for basic interaction and play among other dogs
- Repeatedly bitten at least one person who was lawfully inside the dog’s enclosure
- Repeatedly attempted to dig under, climb over, break, chew through, or otherwise escape from the dog’s enclosure in an attempt to chase, attack, or harass a person or other domestic animal.
Your lawyer may be able to use any available evidence of these behaviors to hold the dog owner liable for your injuries from a dog attack.
HOW CAN MY LAWYER PROVE MY DOG BITE CLAIM?
Even if the dog’s owner did not know that the dog was dangerous, you may still be able to seek compensation for your dog bite injuries if the dog’s owner was negligent in handling their dog, such as failing to have the dog properly restrained as required by law or not having an appropriate enclosure installed. While more complex than a strict liability claim, the following elements will generally need to be proven to successfully pursue a negligence claim:
It must first be proven that the at-fault party had ownership or possession of the dog to hold them liable for any injuries caused by the dog biting someone.
Duty of Care
To prove negligence, as with most personal injury claims, it must be shown that the dog owner had a responsibility to take certain precautions to prevent the dog from biting anyone, such as ensuring the dog was on a leash or properly secured within a required enclosure.
Breach of Duty
Once it has been proven that the dog’s owner had a duty to prevent the dog from biting anyone, it must next be proven that the owner failed to take the precautions that would have prevented a dog bite from occurring.
Finally, you must prove that the owner’s failure to take precautions was the proximate cause of the victim’s injuries, meaning that if the owner had taken these precautions, the dog bite would not have occurred.
In negligence claims, the dog’s owner may claim that the dog was provoked into attacking or biting the victim. Behavior that can entice a dog to bite includes acts such as pulling a dog's tail, throwing objects at the dog, yelling at the dog, or hitting the dog. This may result in a situation where it may appear to be your word against that of the dog owner. A lawyer may be able to help prove that the dog was not provoked before attacking you and establish the dog owner’s negligence.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A DOG?
Call Animal Control
If you are bitten by a dog, you should immediately call Animal Control to report the incident, especially if the dog still poses an immediate threat to others. Animal Control should be able to secure the dog and quarantine it while the incident is investigated.
Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a dog bite. Dog bites can result in serious injuries. Even bites that appear to be relatively minor in severity can result in an infection that could become life-threatening. Medical professionals may ensure the wound is properly cleaned and shut and provide necessary antibiotics. In some cases, you may also need a rabies shot. Having your injury examined and treated by a physician not only helps to ensure your recovery from the attack, but also provides documentation of your injuries.
It will be important to have as much evidence as possible to support your claim. You should keep a written record of the events surrounding the incident and take photos or videos of your injuries and the scene of the incident. Be sure to record the events that led up to the dog bite, including the behavior of the dog, whether or not it was properly restrained, and your own actions before the incident occurred. If there are any witnesses to the incident, you should be sure to obtain their contact information.
Consult a Fort Worth Dog Bite Attorney
A Fort Worth dog bite lawyer may help you determine what actions you may be able to take after being bitten by a dog. An attorney may also investigate your case and gather evidence to prove that the dog’s owner had knowledge of past dangerous behavior or that the owner behaved negligently in failing to properly secure the dog. Your attorney may be able to help you seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Read More: How to Calculate the Value of a Case
In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims, meaning you will have two years from the date of the dog bite to file a claim. This legal time limit for filing a claim makes it crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline. It may take time to determine the full extent of your injuries and how they may impact your life. It may also take time to fully investigate your case to determine who may be liable and how much compensation you may be entitled to. Insurers also may delay processing your claim, further reducing the time you have to file a claim. By consulting a dog bite attorney as soon as possible, you help to ensure that your claim can be filed within this legal time limit. It should be noted that for child dog bite victims, this statute of limitations may not begin until they reach the age of 18.
HOW ZINDA LAW GROUP MAY HELP
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you should contact the attorneys at Zinda Law Group. Dog bites often result in large medical bills and time off from work in addition to the physical pain and suffering that a victim may endure. The experienced attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help determine if the owner is liable and if you may be entitled to compensation. Dog bite claims can be a complex and difficult matter to pursue on your own, but the lawyers at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you through this process by seeking a Fort Worth dog bite settlement on your behalf.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
GET A CASE EVALUATION FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced Fort Worth lawyers may help you with your claim. We assist our clients in seeking the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after they or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.