Houston Dog Bite Injury Attorney
Dog bite injuries have become some of the more common injuries throughout Texas, particularly in the Houston region. Southern states have become notorious for dog-fighting rings, in which dog owners have trained their dogs to become aggressive and attack any living creature which comes near them, whether that be animal or human. Ordinary dog owners who have not intentionally bred aggressive dogs additionally need to be aware of any dangerous propensities their dogs have previously exhibited.
If you have been injured by someone else’s dog, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries depending on the history of the dog.
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Houston residents, like all Texas citizens, suffer from dog bite injuries throughout the year. Not only are there owners who train their dogs to be aggressive, but even a family pet can cause serious damage to someone. If you’ve suffered injuries due to someone else’s dog, you may have a right to compensation for your damages.
Texas dog bite laws can be complex, and it’s not always easy to understand when you can hold the dog owner liable for your injuries. Houston personal injury attorney, Brian White understands these laws and is ready to use his experience and knowledge to represent you in your case.
Contact us to learn your legal rights following a dog bite attack.
Dog Bite Injuries in Texas
Texas statutes provide for criminal charges in many dog bite injury cases which largely depend on the prior behavior of the dog. However, you may also receive monetary settlements if you have been the victim of a dog attack which will cover your medical expenses and any related injuries. Animal law is a complicated section of Texas civil code which includes provisions for different cities.
Each major city in Texas typically has their own form of “leash laws” which protect individuals from dog attacks and ensures that family pets are not roaming around the streets without supervision. There have been many advances in dog bite statutes throughout Texas as the number of dog bite injuries and fatalities have increased over the years. Lillian’s law is the most recent enactment which allows criminal charges against an owner who knows of the propensity of their dog for violence.
Dog owners have “one free bite” allocation, in which they are not liable for injuries that occur if they do not have knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensity. However, if the dog has previously attacked someone, then they are liable for their negligence in allowing the dog to roam freely. It can be difficult to determine if a dog has shown dangerous propensities before, so it is important to initially interview people close to the dog and the dog’s family after a dangerous dog bite.
Criminal suits help civil suits since many times the owner’s negligence in keeping the dog can lead to compensation for the victim. Dog bite injuries can be costly and debilitating, which is all the more reason to try to settle the case as soon as possible. Reach out to a dog bite injury attorney in Houston now.
Compensation You Can Claim After a Houston Dog Attack
Victims of dog attacks may file for compensation against dog owners on the grounds of negligence, violating animal control, failing to stop a dog attack and knowingly keeping a vicious dog. Victims of dog bites may be eligible for compensation under the “one bite rule.” This rule states that any animal owner is legally responsible for injuries caused by the animal if evidence exists proving that:
- The animal had the possibility to do harm which was unusual for its class
- The owner was aware of the animal’s ability to cause injury prior to the incident, and
- The animal’s ability to cause harm resulted in injuries to the person in question.
The one bite rule allows owners of dogs that haven’t shown any signs of dangerous behavior in the past to be free of liability. In such cases, since you cannot establish fault, you won’t be able to recover compensation. Because of your attack, though, the owner will need to register the dog as a “dangerous animal” under Texas law.
However, if you can prove that the owner was liable for your injuries, you may be able to recover for several kinds of damages. These can include financial damages for any medical bills and lost wages due to the accident. You may also be able to claim nonfinancial damages for physical and mental pain and suffering.
While some dog bites are minor, they can quickly become serious injuries. Saliva from the dog can get into a wound, causing infection. If the dog has rabies, the potential medical damages can be severe. Young children, who are among some of the most likely to suffer from a dog bite, can become overwhelmed by the dog and suffer long-lasting physical and psychological injuries.
Determining a fair amount of compensation for your injuries can be difficult, especially when you start to consider pain and suffering and future financial damages. While the dog owner’s insurance company will provide you a settlement offer, it may not be enough to fully cover your damages. With a strong Houston dog bite lawyer on your side, you’ll have the help of an attorney who not only understands the full value of your fair compensation but who is ready to fight aggressively to secure that compensation.
The Texas Health and Safety Code provides for regulations that define “dangerous dogs” and the responsibilities an owner has when owning a dangerous dog. Once an owner has knowledge of the propensity of a dog to attack others, they must register the dog as a dangerous dog or face civil and criminal charges.
Dog attacks can cause a wide range of injuries and can be especially severe for children who are often smaller than the dog which attacks them.
The Most Dangerous Dogs According to Bite Statistics
Some dogs are more likely to bite than others. According to statistics from Dogbite.org between 2005 and 2017 dogs killed 433 Americans and pit bulls contributed to 66% (284) of those deaths, making them the most dangerous type of dog. The percentage increases when examining only attacks from unfamiliar dogs. For these kinds of attacks, pit bulls are responsible for 60% of all injuries. Attacks from pit bulls result in higher morbidity rates, hospital charges and risk of death than attacks from any other breed.
German shepherd dogs are also likely to attack, and they are responsible for 4% of all attacks. From 2005 to 2017, German Shepherds caused 45 fatal attacks on humans. Following in close percentage, chihuahuas surprisingly are responsible for 3% of dog attacks. Neither of these statistics close to pit bulls, which makes them the most dangerous dog breed by far.
Retrievers, boxers, and Rottweilers together cause 2% of attacks. Yet even accounting for lower percentages, Rottweilers are dangerous dogs. Rottweilers were responsible for 45 fatal attacks between 2005 to 2017, putting them in second place behind pit bulls.
Some form of operation is three times more likely to be necessary after a pit bull injury than that of any other breed. If you live in the vicinity of one of these breeds it pays to be cautious. Observe the dog’s behavior and make note of any aggressive or vicious tendencies.
If you were recently attacked by any of these dogs, you may be eligible for compensation. Reach out to a Houston dog bite lawyer now.
Most Common Causes for Dog Attacks in Texas
Dogs often attack because they are protecting something valuable to them. Whether it’s a possession, a resting place, their owner or the owner’s property, protection is a common reason for dogs to attack. Avoid walking on an unfamiliar homeowner’s property. A dog could be present that will attack if he/she sees a trespasser or unfamiliar face. Don’t disturb a dog’s resting place either or withhold his/her property even if you are just teasing.
Another common cause for dog attacks is fear. If a human frightens or provokes a dog, whether through crowding the dog or moving too quickly, the dog may bite. For safety, make the dog aware of your presence when you approach him/her. Sneaking up behind a dog is an easy way to scare him/her and receive a bite in return.
Thirdly, just like humans, when dogs are sick, injured or hurt, they may overreact. If a dog is not feeling well, he/she is more likely to bite or snap. If a child mistakenly hurts a dog by stepping on his/her tail or ear, the dog may bite reflexively. Humans should never tease dogs by poking them or pulling their tails.
Other reasons for dog bites include accidental bites during play and incidents when a dog views a runner or bicyclist as prey. Recognizing the common causes for bites will help you avoid situations where bites are likely to occur.
Dog Bite Statistics in Texas
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Texas ranks ninth for dog ownership in the U.S. as 44% of Texan households own a dog. Texas is the leading state for dog bite fatalities. In a study from 2005 to 2013, 34 Texans suffered death from dog attacks.
Pit bulls caused 26 of these deaths, followed by Rottweilers causing the remaining five deaths. These two breeds are responsible for all six chained dog deaths in Texas, and all these fatalities occurred to a child four years old or under. Of all 34 Texan fatalities, 68% of the victims were 11 years old or younger, and 52% of this group were 2 years old or younger.
Family dogs caused 53% of all fatal attacks, and 88% of all fatal attacks happened on the dog owner’s property. The counties with the greatest number of fatal dog attacks in Texas are Harris County followed by Bexar County and Montgomery County.
Brian White | Houston Animal Attack Attorney
If you have been injured by a dangerous dog, do not hesitate to contact Brian White for an initial consultation to discuss your options in pursuing a civil suit against the owner. Personal injury legal proceedings are subject to a limitations period, so it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to ensure your case is handled expeditiously.