Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury in San Antonio?
Under Texas law, the owner or keeper of a dog that bites and injures someone can be held responsible for the expenses and losses the injured victim incurs. But while you could be entitled to this compensation, you might feel uneasy about pursuing it if the dog is owned by a family member, neighbor, or friend.
However, as a practical matter, an insurance company typically pays dog bite claims. Money usually does not come directly from the dog’s owner. If the dog’s owner has homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or other personal liability insurance, that coverage should provide you with compensation. In other words, you don’t need to worry about pursuing a legal case against someone you know because the money usually will come from their insurance provider, not from their bank account.
Understanding the Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
Besides causing puncture wounds and lacerations, dog bites can result in a wide range of medical injuries and complications, including:
- Infections from bacteria that live in dog’s mouths, such as staphylococcus, pasturella, and capnocytophaga
- Viral infections such as rabies
- Broken bones, particularly in the hands and feet
- Muscle, ligament, tendon, and nerve damage, if a dog’s bite can break through the skin to the tissues underneath
- Permanent visible scarring
In extreme situations, dog attacks can prove fatal, particularly for small children.
Compensation for Injuries in Dog Bite Cases
You may be entitled to recover compensation for the losses you’ve suffered because of a dog bite, including:
- Medical expenses, such as hospital bills, surgeries, prescription medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy
- Costs of long-term health and personal care for permanent disabilities that result from your injuries
- Loss of income if you need to take time off work to recover from a dog bite or attack
- Loss of earning capacity if you sustain permanent impairment to your ability to work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and distress
What to Do If a Dog Has Bitten You
If a dog attacks you, you should take the following steps to protect yourself and your ability to pursue compensation for your injuries:
- Get to safety and seek emergency medical attention.
- Notify animal control.
- Take pictures of your injuries and the scene of the attack.
- Identify the dog that bit you, if possible.
- Notify the dog’s owner that their dog bit you, and ask questions about the dog’s history of aggression or disease.
- Obtain written or recorded statements from any witnesses.
- Keep copies of your bills and invoices as well as your pay stubs or tax records to document the expenses and losses you have suffered from your injuries.
- Speak to a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options for recovering compensation.
What Is the Texas ‘One Bite’ Rule?
Texas’s one bite rule governs civil liability for dog bite injuries. Under the one-bite rule, a dog owner can be found negligent if either is true:
- The dog’s owner knew or had reason to know that their dog had previously acted aggressively or bitten somebody.
- The dog’s owner failed to use reasonable care to control and restrain their dog, such as not having a dog on a leash or failing to maintain a dog’s enclosure.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim after a Dog Bite?
In Texas, the statute of limitations typically gives you two years from the date of a dog bite injury to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. Filing suit after the limitations period expires on your claim will usually result in a court dismissing your case as untimely. That could prevent you from seeking compensation through the court system. For that reason, you should talk to a San Antonio dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to get started on your claim.
Can Trespassers Sue for a Dog Attack?
Someone who trespasses on a dog owner’s property and is attacked by their dog may not be eligible to pursue a claim for compensation. Under Texas law, a property owner owes no duty to make their premises safe for a trespasser. Instead, a property owner is only required to refrain from intentionally or willfully injuring a trespasser. Therefore, a trespasser who is attacked by a dog kept on the property will likely not be entitled to sue the dog owner. However, the situation may be different for trespassing children who suffer dog attacks.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 4.5 million dog bite incidents occur in the U.S. each year. Of those, about 800,000 bites require medical attention.
Children make up more than half of dog bite victims and have a much higher risk of being severely injured in a dog attack. Most dog bites, particularly those involving small children, are inflicted by a dog known to the bite victim.
A study of fatal dog attacks over a recent 12-year period cited by Forbes found that the 10 most dangerous dog breeds were:
- Pitbull, with 284 fatal attacks
- Rottweiler, with 45 fatal attacks
- German shepherd, with 20 fatal attacks
- Mixed-breed, with 17 fatal attacks
- American bulldog, with 15 fatal attacks
- Mastiff/bullmastiff, with 14 fatal attacks
- Husky, with 13 fatal attacks
- Labrador retriever, with 9 fatal attacks
- Boxer, with 7 fatal attacks
- Doberman pinscher, with 6 fatal attacks
How a San Antonio Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, trying to pursue compensation can take up time and energy that should be spent recovering from your injuries. You may also feel uncomfortable seeking financial compensation when a family member, friend, or neighbor owns the dog.
The experienced San Antonio dog bite attorney at the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover can help by:
- Investigating the circumstances of the attack to secure the evidence needed for your claim, such as that the owner had knowledge of their dog’s aggressiveness or that the owner failed to restrain their dog
- Documenting your injuries and losses to calculate what kind of compensation you could be entitled to
- Filing an insurance claim with the dog owner’s insurer on your behalf
- Aggressively negotiating for a settlement that fully covers all your losses
- Pursuing your claim in court if necessary to secure fair and full compensation
Contact the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our skilled personal injury team and find out how our firm can help you get the financial compensation you deserve.