Animal & Dog Bite Lawyers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. In addition, 800,000 of these victims seek medical attention, and half of these are children. Naturally, the CDC recommends preventative measures, such as not approaching an unfamiliar dog and not running from a dog; however, sometimes the worst happens. Anyone who is bitten needs to take steps in accordance with sound medical care and state law.
Victims of dog bites should first identify the dog. Even if the dog is unfamiliar, the victim should pay attention to the dog’s features and the direction from which the dog came. Unless the dog, its owner and its medical records are located, a bite victim may have to undergo rabies treatment.
After identifying the animal, take pictures of the wounds and seek medical care. Both the pictures and proof of medical care will assist in any subsequent lawsuit. After attaining medical care, victims should immediately contact animal control, which will locate both the dog and the dog’s owner. The Texas Department of State Health Services has specific animal-bite procedures which animal control will follow.
Texas law gives animal-bite victims recourse under specific situations. Texas is considered a “one-bite” state, meaning that for the victim to secure compensation from the dog owner, the dog in question must have either bitten someone before or behaved in a way that indicated possible future biting.
Although the one-bite stipulation is clear, other means of compensation do exist. If the dog’s owner was negligent, for example, then that behavior supersedes the one-bite rule. Negligence can be as simple as owning a dog that was roaming unleashed in a leash-law jurisdiction. Also, if an owner does not stop a dog attack in progress, that lack of initiative is an actionable behavior. Furthermore, a friend or family member who witnesses a dog attack can also sue for mental anguish.
In 2007 “Lillian’s Law” went into effect. Lillian’s Law was enacted after a pack of loose dogs viciously attacked and killed an elderly woman while she cared for her lawn. The law charges vicious dog owners with felonies if someone is injured or killed in an unprovoked attack — third-degree felony for serious injury and second-degree felony for death. Lillian’s Law convictions carry sentences ranging from two to 20 years in prison.
Finally, landlords are responsible for dog attacks that occur on common areas of their property, even if they are not the dog owner. The implication is that landlords must offer a safe environment to their tenants. However, the landlord must be aware of the dog’s presence as well as the dog’s propensity toward violence.
Especially because of Texas’ one-bite rule, victims of dog bites or bites from other domesticated animals should contact an attorney with expertise in personal injury law in general and animal bites in particular as soon as is reasonably possible after the attack.