Houston Dog Bite Lawyers
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When dogs are properly socialized, dogs provide a sense of companionship and loyalty to their families. It is by no accident that dogs are known as “man’s best friend.” Dogs are the most commonly owned pet in the country.
No matter the breed, however, most dogs can cause severe damage when they bite. If you or your family member was the victim of a dog bite, it probably doesn’t matter to you how friendly the dog is—you deserve compensation for your injuries. Seeking the help of a Houston dog bite lawyer may give you the best chance in these situations.
TYPES OF DOG BITE ACCIDENTS
When people think of a dog bite accident, they might think of a large, aggressive canine breaking free from its leash and chasing down its victim. However, there are many different situations in which a dog bite victim can end up with serious injuries.
Dogs are born with certain instincts that can sometimes lead to biting, whether or not the dog is behaving aggressively. For example, certain breeds of herding dogs may tend to nip at people, including children, when it is trying to lead them in a certain direction. Another situation in which a dog’s instincts might lead it to bite is when it has recently given birth to puppies and feels that someone is getting too close.
Dogs are territorial creatures, and they sometimes may bite when they feel that they need to defend their turf. This can occur if you visit the house of a friend and their dog feels that you are an unwelcome intruder. A dog owner who knows that their dog is prone to biting visitors in their home who fails to warn or stop their dog could be liable for any injuries they cause.
There are many situations that could provoke even the friendliest of dogs to bite a victim. For example, riding your bike past a house with a dog in the front could trigger a chase reflex. Walking your own dog past another dog who has not been properly socialized could trigger an aggressive reaction in that dog which can lead to biting.
HOUSTON DOG OWNER LIABILITY
In any sort of claim where an accident victim is seeking compensation for their injuries, they must be able to show that another party caused them, or in legal terms, that another party is liable. Generally, another party is liable for injuries when they had a duty to act a certain way but failed to live up to that standard. In Houston dog bite cases, there are a few factors that might come into play when determining liability.
One Bite Rule
Texas is what is known as a “one bite state.” This means that dog owners may not be responsible for their dog biting unless they had reason to know that their dog had the propensity to bite in the first place. Essentially, dog owners are not punished for the first bite, but that first bite puts them on notice that their dog can be dangerous.
Stray Dog Responsibility
A dog owner does not need to have bought or officially adopted a dog to be considered its owner. According to the Houston city code, a person is considered to be the owner of a stray dog if they provide food, water, and other care to a dog on their property for at least three days. If the stray injures another person, the owner may be held liable for the injuries that it causes
Dogs at Large
Houston has codified what is commonly known as a “leash law” in section 6.3 of the city code. Essentially, a dog owner is breaking the rules if they allow their dog off of their property without a leash or some other form of direct physical control. There may be exceptions, like at an off-leash area of a dog park, but the dog owner still needs to supervise their pet.
WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A DOG
After being bitten by a dog, you may be unsure where to turn and what to do next. Having a simple, straightforward list of steps to follow can put your mind at ease and give you a better shot at receiving maximum compensation for your injuries.
1. Get Medical Attention
Dog bites can result in nasty, jagged, wounds in the skin of their victims, are very susceptible to becoming infected. Dog bite victims should get medical attention for their injuries as soon after the accident as possible. It is also important to get medical attention quickly because a long delay in going to the doctor could potentially be used by an opposing party to argue that your injuries are not as serious as you are claiming or that they are unconnected to the dog bite.
2. Document the Accident
After addressing your medical needs, it is important to gather all the information that you can about the attack. This may include:
- The information of the dog owner and any witnesses
- Pictures of the dog, your injuries, and the location where the attack happened,
- Medical records and receipts for costs that you have had to incur as a result of the dog bite
3. Contact an Experienced Houston Dog Bite Attorney
Seeking the help and advice of a qualified and experienced Houston dog bite attorney may be your best shot at receiving fair compensation for your injuries. First, a lawyer may be able to help you triage your case upon your first meeting. An experienced attorney may provide:
- A rough evaluation of what your case could be worth
- An estimate on the timeline of your case
- Guidance about the next steps that they may take to assist you
They may then be able to use their training and expertise to argue your claim persuasively to all of the other parties in support of maximum compensation for your injuries.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
FILING A DOG BITE CLAIM
Speaking with an attorney might give you a better idea of the full range of your options. Your best chance for getting maximum compensation for your injuries will most likely be by filing a dog bite claim against the dog’s owner. Once you have hired an attorney, they may be able to take over the next steps.
Investigation and Research
After hiring an attorney, they may be able to begin the process of gathering all the information and evidence that they will need to back up your claim. This may include:
- Investigating the scene where the accident took place
- Researching the history of the dog and its owner
- Gathering and analyzing your medical records
Negotiating a Settlement
Most civil claims settle before reaching the trial stage. Going to trial requires a lot of time and money, and most parties can reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides before having to go to this step. At the negotiation and settlement stage, it will be critical to have the assistance of an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of the law and the experience to be able to argue your claim persuasively.
DOG BITE DAMAGES
For dog bite victims, an important part of the claim process is finding out how much their case could be worth. Generally, any money that you stand to receive will be comprised of two types of damages. “Damages” is compensation paid out to accident victims by the liable party intended to put the victim in the financial standing that they were in before.
Economic damages compensate for the expenses that a victim incurred as a result of their injuries. They can typically be tied to some objective measures. These may include expenses like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages from missing work.
Non-economic damages are not tied to a measurable, objective standard like economic damages, but rather they compensate victims for intangible losses. Non-economic damages refer to the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries. The general rule with non-economic damages is that the more severely your injuries impacted your life, the more you may stand to receive in compensation.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every type of personal injury claim has an associated statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that you have to file a claim after an accident. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a dog bite accident is two years, which means that you have two years from the date of your accident to begin the process by filing a claim.
CONTACT THE HOUSTON ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Being bitten by a dog can be a terrifying experience that leaves the victim with both physical and financial damage. At Zinda Law Group, we believe that victims should have to worry about their ability to afford legal representation, which is why we offer a No Win, No Fee Guarantee—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case for you.
If you or a loved one have suffered through the aftermath of a dog bite, contact Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation to speak with one of our Houston personal injury lawyers.
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