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Houston Dog Bite Lawyer

Houston Dog Bite Lawyer

We’ve all heard the phrase “dogs are man’s best friend,” but we don’t usually talk about the occasions when these furry friends harm someone. Any dog can bite at any time, regardless of breed or age, and the results are often devastating. An estimated 81 deaths from dog bites or attacks were recorded in the United States during 2021, with 5 of those in Texas, making it the state with the most dog-bite deaths per year.

Approximately 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., and if you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, know that an experienced Houston dog bite lawyer is here to help. At Barrera Law Group, LLC, we understand how traumatic a dog attack can be, and we’ll be with you throughout the entire legal process.

What Causes a Dog To Bite?

Contrary to popular belief, most dog bites are situational and not due to any specific breed. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), some breeds may bite more than others, but that doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t bite. Most bites occur due to the following reasons:

  • Fear: A dog in a strange or loud place they’re unfamiliar with is likely to feel a large amount of fear and can bite someone because they feel as if that is their only defense.
  • Protection: Whether it’s food, puppies, or their home, dogs protect what they deem is theirs, and if someone gets in between them and their “property,” the dog might bite.
  • Surprise: If someone sneaks up on a dog or abruptly wakes them, it can scare the dog into biting as a form of defense, especially in the cases of a dog that has just woken up from a nap and they’re not sure what is going on around them.
  • Sickness or injury: Dogs that are sick or injured do not feel their best and often just want to be left alone to rest, much like people. If someone bothers a sick or injured dog, the dog might bite to make the person stop because they might not have the energy to bark or move to another spot to rest.
  • Age: This can be a little more difficult to pinpoint, but both young dogs and old ones may bite for different reasons. Younger dogs or puppies generally have a lot more energy and love to wrestle, often leading to play biting, which actually can harm people. Older dogs might not move around as much, but they also might want to be left alone, and a bite is the only way they can signal that feeling to a person.
  • Temperament: Some dogs love to cuddle and or play with their humans, but some don’t, or maybe not all the time. The dogs that, just like some people, tolerate human interaction for a short time need time alone to recharge and if they’re bothered during this time, they might react with a bite.

Of course, these are only a few of the reasons a dog might bite someone, and it’s important to note that some dog bites don’t fit into any of these categories. Any dog bite can be horrific and damaging, regardless of the circumstances that cause it to occur.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Children account for more than 50% of all dog bite victims, with approximately 64.7% of those bites affecting the head and neck. Because of this, dog bites on children are usually far more devastating and usually require lengthy hospital stays and sometimes reconstructive surgery. Children under the age of ten are the most likely to be bitten by a dog, and 16.9% of pediatric dog bites require operative care.

Some of the most common injuries resulting from dog bites are:

  • Lacerations
  • Bruises
  • Infections
  • Fractures
  • Punctures
  • Nerve damage
  • Tendon or ligament damage
  • Psychological injuries

If a dog bite is fatal, the family of the deceased victim can pursue a wrongful death claim. Dog bites often cause serious physical and psychological injuries, and our team at Barrera Law Group, LLC has experience helping victims of these cases.

Tips for Dog Owners

Even if you or someone you know was bitten by a dog, chances are likely that you also own a furry friend or you’re often around someone who does. The following are some dog tips to remember:

  • Socialize puppies with as many different kinds of people as possible
  • Wrestling, tug-of-war, and “siccing” instill bad habits in dogs
  • Always spay or neuter a dog as this helps regulate their hormones and reduces aggression
  • Teach children how to be safe around dogs
  • Pay attention to a dog’s personality and body language
  • Never leave a young child alone with a dog, even one they are familiar with
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for its puppies
  • Don’t tease a dog
  • Always let a dog see and smell you before you begin to pet it
  • Always approach dogs slowly and calmly, even ones that you know

Of course, following all of these doesn’t guarantee that a dog won’t bite, but it can reduce the possibility of dog bites or attacks in the future. It’s always a good idea to be aware of animals around you and understand how to act properly around them, and if a dog does bite you, know that Barrera Law Group, LLC is just a phone call away.

Why Hire a Houston Dog Bite Attorney?

You’re not required to have a lawyer on your side for your civil case, but there are a number of reasons why hiring one will help. A qualified dog bite attorney will know the laws, understand how the process works, and be by your side to fight for you. They’ll assist with everything from making sure your case is filed on time to seeking the maximum compensation for your injuries.

Statute of Limitations

Your attorney knows that the statute of limitations in Texas for civil suits is two years from the date of the event. That means you have two years from the date of your dog bite attack to file your claim and pursue legal action. If you wait too long, your case will be considered invalid by a judge, and you won’t be able to hold the negligent party accountable or get any kind of compensation.

A Barrera Law Group LLC dog bite lawyer will gather the necessary evidence and file your claim for you within that time limit to make sure you have the best chance at a fair case.

Who Will Be Held Liable for Your Dog Attack?

According to Texas state laws, a dog owner can be held liable for the actions of their pet if certain circumstances can be proven, but landlords and the victim themselves can also be held liable, depending on the evidence presented in the case.

The One-Bite Rule

A dog bite victim can recover compensation under the “One-Bite” rule if both of the following conditions are met:

  • The dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to
  • The defendant was aware of the dog’s previous conduct

This means that if it’s proven that the dog attempted to bite or did bite someone and the dog owner knew about it, the dog owner will be held liable.

Owner Negligence

An owner of a non-vicious animal can be subject to liability for the negligent handling of their animal, but the following must be proven:

  • The defendant owned or possessed an animal
  • The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others
  • The defendant breached that duty
  • The defendant’s breach of that duty caused the plaintiff’s injury

If owner negligence is proven, it’s unnecessary to also prove the one-bite rule.

Negligence Based on Violating an Animal Control Law

We’ve all seen the posted signs that say to keep your dog on a leash in parks or along walking trails. If a dog owner doesn’t follow those posted signs, and their off-leash dog injures someone, the dog owner can be held liable for violating an animal control law.

Additionally, Texas prohibits chaining or tethering a dog under certain circumstances, known as unlawful restraint of a dog, and the statute explicitly outlines the law and its exceptions. However, in Harris County, the exceptions of this law don’t apply, which means that any violation of the statute can be used as the basis for negligent liability.

Failure To Stop an Attack in Progress

According to Bushnell v. Mott, 254 SW 3d 451 (Tex. Supreme Ct., 2008), failing to stop a dog attack after it has begun can be considered a liability, even if the one-bite rule or owner negligence can’t be proven. This means that if the dog owner sees their dog biting someone and does nothing to stop it, the owner can be held liable for their inaction.

Bystander Emotional Distress

If you witness a dog attack, Texas law allows for closely related bystanders to file and recover for emotional distress but does not allow any plaintiff to sue for negligent infliction of mental anguish, per Boyles v. Kerr, 855 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1993).

Landlord Liability

A landlord or landowner in the state of Texas can be held liable for failing to rid the premises of a known dangerous dog. That is to say that if a dog attack occurs on land or a common area under the control of a landlord and the landlord knew before the attack about a particular dog’s vicious temperament, the landlord can be held liable for the attack, even if they are not the owner of the dog.

Comparative Negligence

Texas is also a comparative negligence state, meaning that if the victim of a dog bite can be proven to be 50% or less at fault for the attack, the amount of compensation awarded may be reduced. However, it’s important to apply the correct standard of care in these cases. For example, an adult might act in a way that a child might not.

Types of Compensation in Dog Bite Cases

Although the exact amount of compensation in a dog bite case varies from case to case, there are a lot of factors to be considered. It’s imperative to your case that you consult with an attorney experienced in dog bite cases to ensure that you receive a fair settlement that accurately reflects the extent of your dog bite injuries. Compensation from a dog bite settlement can include:

  • Lost wages: If the dog bite injury results in the victim missing work or not being able to return to work in the future
  • Property damage: Any property of the victim that was damaged during the dog bite attack.
  • Scarring or disfigurement: Dog attack victims can seek compensation for any disfigurement or scarring they will be facing due to the attack.
  • Medical expenses: All past and future medical expenses relating to the attack, including doctor’s visits, therapies, hospital stays, tests, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering: Physical and emotional pain victims have suffered due to the dog attack.
  • Emotional distress: Victims can seek compensation for the distress they’ve suffered from the attack.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: If the victim is unable to live their life to the extent they did before the attack.
  • Loss of consortium: If a victim’s partner or family member is unable to provide the same level of care and companionship due to the victim’s injury.

Other costs, such as travel expenses or any out-of-pocket expenses relating to the attack, can also be factored into the case when awarding compensation. Also, in some cases, punitive damages may be awarded based on the level of negligence of the dog’s owner.

Barrera Law Group, LLC – We’re Ready to Fight for You

As you know, dog bites and dog attacks can happen to anyone at any time, and the damages can be catastrophic. Some injuries never fully heal. Some victims, although physically healed, may deal with mental anguish or PTSD for the rest of their lives. If you’ve suffered a dog bite in Houston or anywhere in Texas, know that expert dog bite attorneys at Barrera Law Group LLC are available to help with your case.

Call our office today or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here for you to help you through the legal process and assist you during this difficult time so that you can focus on healing from your trauma.

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