Dog Bite Injury Lawyers in Temple, Texas
CALL (800) 863-5312 to talk to our compassionate Temple dog bite lawyers today
Countless references in American culture paint the family dog as a hero who looks out for the children and serves as man’s best friend (and often tragically dies at the end of the book or movie). Because many people are used to dogs being friendly, small children might run up to a dog in public and not expect to be bitten. Over 50% of people attacked by dogs in the United States are children. Temple dog bite lawyers can help you recover for the physical and psychological injuries you or your loved one sustained from an animal attack. Even if after being bitten by a dog, you still love dogs, the owners of the dog who attacked you should be held responsible for the injuries they allowed their dog to cause.
Dog bite laws in Temple, Texas
States have vastly different dog bite laws; some have written statutes that dictate the responsibility of the dog owner based on whether the dog bite happened in public or private. While Texas has laws that govern the treatment of dogs and appropriate restraining methods of dogs, it does not have a statute governing what happens when a dog bites someone. Texas leaves this area of law to the common law.
Common law refers to an area of law that has developed over time by individual court decisions, unlike statutes that were introduced and passed by the legislative branch. If people do not like a common law developed by the courts, they can elect legislators who will write a statute to overrule a common law. Alternatively, sometimes states codify common law into statutes.
Common law is just as authoritative as written statutes, and much of personal injury law today is common law. States have their own common law rules for various areas even within personal injury law.
In Texas, two common law rules can apply to dog bite cases. The theory under which the victim chooses to sue the dog owner will depend on the circumstances of the case and how the dog bite happened. Negligence is the correct law under which to sue when the dog owner does not know whether the dog has bitten someone before, and strict liability is the appropriate law when the dog has bitten someone before.
When the dog has not bitten someone before
If the dog’s owner does not know whether the dog has attacked before, other factors will be taken into consideration to determine whether the dog owner was negligent. A dog bite victim who sues a dog owner under a theory of negligence must prove the following elements:
1. The dog owner owed the victim a duty of care.
2. The dog owner breached the standard of the duty of care.
3. The victim received an injury for which he or she can be compensated.
4. The dog owner’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the victim’s injury.
The Standard of Care the Dog Owner Owes the Victim
Certain kinds of relationships give rise to a legal duty of care; that duty of care is usually defined as the level of care a reasonable person under the circumstances would take to prevent foreseeable harm. Reasonable drivers on the road signal to change lanes and slow down and turn on their lights in dense fog. Reasonable grocery store owners keep aisles clear of obstacles and warn customers of wet floors when the floors have been mopped recently.
There is also a higher standard of care for professionals. Professionals like doctors, lawyers, and pilots are held to the standard of care that the average professional in their field would take under the circumstances.
The standard of care that a dog owner owes others is the level that a reasonable person under the circumstances would take. For example, if a park has a sign that lists a park rule that all pets should be leashed, the reasonable dog owner would keep his or her dog leashed to prevent the dog from potentially attacking a park visitor or another dog. A Temple dog bite attorney can listen to the facts of your case and help you decide what duty of care the dog owner owed you.
How the Dog Owner Breaches of the Duty of Care
When the person who owes you a duty of care fails to maintain the right standard of care, that person has breached the standard of care. Drivers who run red lights, store owners who leave unmarked puddles, doctors who leave surgical tools in a patient, and lawyers who miss deadlines fatal to a case have all likely breached their duty of care. Dog owners who let their dogs roam unleashed against the rule of a park likewise may have breached their duty of care.
The Victim’s Injury
You have not suffered a compensable injury if you were merely afraid of someone’s dog. Even if someone let a dog roam without a leash at a park and the dog came up to you and growled, that person has likely breached a duty of care to you, but you have probably not received an injury for which you can receive compensation. A physical injury will usually be sufficient to show that you have suffered a compensable injury, so long as you can show that it was the dog owner who caused your injury.
When the dog has bitten someone before
In cases in which the dog has bitten someone before, the doctrine of strict liability applies. In strict liability, the defendant does not have a duty to keep the plaintiff safe, and the defendant’s intention does not matter.
The defendant could have taken all the precautions that a reasonable person would take to prevent injury to the victim and yet still be responsible for the victim’s injury under a theory of strict liability. The plaintiff who suffered the dog bite bypasses all of the steps involved in negligence cases and must simply show that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog had bitten someone in the past.
Texas follows the one bite rule to hold the dog owner strictly liable. The one bite rule has only two elements:
1.The dog that bit the victim previously bit a person or previously tried to bite a person.
2.The dog owner was aware of the dog’s previous conduct.
The Dog’s Previous Conduct
It might be easier for you to inquire into the dog’s history or already know about the dog’s vicious propensities if the dog belonged to a friend or family member. A Temple dog bite lawyer will be able to help you investigate the dog’s history to see whether you can prove that the dog bit or tried to bite someone before you were bitten.
The Defendant’s Knowledge
If the dog owner had no reason to believe the dog would attack because the dog owner had never seen the dog try to bite someone, they will not be considered liable. If they had not been told about the dog biting or attempting to bite someone in the past, then again the owner will not be held strictly liable for the dog’s bite.
If the dog owner’s spouse, however, has knowledge about a dog’s propensity to bite, then that will count to show that the spouse who was in possession of the dog when it bit you had knowledge of the dog’s history. Your lawyer will search for proof that either one knew beforehand of the dog’s tendency to bite.
Defenses that the dog owner could raise
Just because you are able to fulfil the elements of your negligence or strict liability claim, that does not mean that you will automatically win your claim. There are defenses available to the dog owner, namely trespass and provocation.
Under trespass, the Temple dog owner argues that the victim was unlawfully on the dog owner’s property when the dog bit the victim. Under provocation, the dog owner argues that the victim harassed the dog in such a way that it provoked the dog to attack. Some states require that in order to raise a provocation defense, the defendant must also show that the victim knew about the dog’s propensity to bite.
Government employees in the performance of a duty imposed by the law are immune from a defense of trespass. For example, a mail carrier or water meter reader who steps onto your land is not trespassing.
How can Temple dog bite lawyers near me Help?
Temple accident lawyers have experience helping victims of dog bites by litigating for them under theories of negligence or strict liability and being aware of any defenses the defendant could possibly raise. You might consider researching the law on your own and trying to bring the claim yourself, but this can be very challenging for several reasons.
Since dog bite law in Texas is the common law, victims will need access to the right cases—as opposed to the statutes of Texas—in order to develop a solid claim, and you must be sure that you are using cases that are in the correct jurisdiction. In addition to the substantive law surrounding your case, you will also have to navigate court rules and procedures, which can be extremely unforgiving.
Dog bite lawyers have access to these resources on a regular basis and know how to apply and navigate cases and court rules. Rather than putting more time and energy into a lawsuit without assurance that you will recover money from the defendant, you can get the advice of an experienced accident lawyer to see whether you should file your claim in the first place.
Filing Your Complaint
To start your lawsuit, you must file your complaint. You have to be sure that your complaint is filed within the right timeframe after the accident and that you have stated a claim upon which relief can be granted.
In Texas, you have two years from the day of the accident to file your dog bite claim. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, you must choose the legal theory under which you are suing, such as negligence or strict liability. Then you must describe how you meet each of the elements of the theory under which you are suing.
After you file your claim, you can expect an answer and possibly a counterclaim from the defendant. You will have some time after the defendant files an answer to gather all of the information that you need to settle your case or bring your case to trial; that investigative period is called discovery. This is typically the longest part of litigation, since both sides want to have all of the information possible to develop their side of the claim.
These steps are second nature to a . If you work with an attorney who has experience preparing such cases, he or she can walk you through this process and let you know what is happening at each stage of litigation.
Getting You Compensated
Temple accident lawyers are very familiar with the next stage of litigation, which involves negotiation. This can be an intimidating step for plaintiffs who represent themselves without the help of a Temple injury lawyer. Attorneys draw on their experience to estimate an appropriate compensation amount for their clients, and they encourage the defendant to settle by showing that your case is stronger and that you would win if the case were to go to trial.
The possible amount of compensation you could receive depends on how much money you have spent on your injury and how much you have suffered as a result of the dog bite. Your injury will be measured in terms of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are to pay for your missed wages from time off of work while recovering for the injury and the amount of money you have spent treating any physical or psychological injuries. Noneconomic damages additionally cover the pain and suffering you experience because of the injury.
How can I talk to Temple dog bite lawyers near me?
A dog bite could affect you for the rest of your life if it permanently disfigured you or caused you psychological damage. You might adjust your routine to avoid being around dogs and could experience trauma from being around dogs after you were attacked. You deserve not only to receive compensation for the monetary expenses this has caused, but also to have your pain and suffering recognized by the person who caused it.
The attorneys at Zinda Law Group are ready to hear about what happened to you so they can let you know what they can do for you. After we have heard what your goals are for your lawsuit, we can help you develop a legal strategy. Reach out to a Temple dog bite lawyer at (800) 863-5312 and begin your free consultation.
Litigation can be stressful, especially if you are trying to figure it out on your own. That is why the Zinda Law Group dog bite lawyers take the burden off of you.
At our firm, we provide a No Win, No Fee Guarantee so that you do not need to continue worrying about how expensive a lawsuit would be. Our guarantee ensures that you will not pay us unless we win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.