When to Press Charges After a Dog Bite in Texas
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you should quickly report it to the local animal control or the police. That doesn’t mean you are pressing criminal charges, but you are creating a record of the incident. If you later file a dog bite lawsuit or pursue an insurance settlement, this record will be essential. Gather information from the dog’s owner and any eyewitnesses, and then file your report.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, we are truly sorry. We’ve seen many different types of dog bite cases in our more than 12 years in business fighting for victims of dog attacks in Texas. So, we understand how painful and terrifying it can be. Whether it’s a small bite or a serious injury, dog attacks are traumatic.
Who Do I Call If I Get Bitten by a Dog?
There are several types of calls you should make after a dog bite including
- Medical: You might need to call 9-1-1 if the bite is severe. Although regardless of severity, you should always get a medical examination. There is always a risk the injury could become infected or could lead to other complications.
- Law Enforcement: Call animal control or the local police. They need to have information about dangers in their area. Also, the community deserves this information as it can make others safer.
- Legal: Dog bite lawsuits can be complex and each case is different. The dog owner and the dog owner’s insurance company may not want to compensate you as you deserve. Call a dog attack lawyer as soon as possible for help.
Don’t call the dog owner’s insurance company or give them any information if they call you. Make them deal with your attorney. If you try to talk to them yourself, you might unknowingly give away certain information that they could use to justify paying you less.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Dog Bite?
It’s risky to pursue a dog bite case alone, so getting a lawyer is a good idea. Your medical expenses might cost thousands of dollars and the bite could lead to unforeseen complications. You should have an advocate working to get you the funds you need.
Plus, the dog owner’s insurance company might not offer you a settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries. But, if you have experienced, aggressive legal representation you should be treated fairly.
Besides your doctor, your attorney might be the only other person who is interested in doing what is best for you. Your attorney is like a doctor in that he or she will diagnose the legal situation from a liability and damages perspective and offer the best options going forward.
What Legal Action Should I Take If I Get Bitten by a Dog?
After you’ve received medical treatment for the dog bite, there are a few steps you can go through to start the legal process.
- Gather Information: Get the name and contact information of the dog’s owner. If possible, gather contact information of witnesses who observed the dog attack or prior attacks by the same animal.
- Take Pictures: Photograph your injuries. You may want to ask your physician or nurse the safest way and time to take photos during your recovery. You can also take pictures of the place you were attacked and of any damage that was caused to your clothes.
- File a Report: Contact local authorities to report the bite and give them all the information you have.
- Keep a Journal: Organize your information in a journal. Keep adding your thoughts and any developments to it for several weeks after the attack. Then, continue writing in it about once a week until your case is concluded.
- Hire a Lawyer: You can get legal help at any stage of this process. Your dog bite lawyer can advise you and assist you with gathering information, filing claims, and negotiating with insurance companies.
Can I Sue for Getting Bitten by a Dog?
You can sue if you are bitten by a dog. Contact an attorney who is experienced with dog bite lawsuits in Texas and in your county. Keep in mind that even neighboring states can treat dog bites differently with different statutes.
Typically, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy will cover dog bite claims. Your attorney might spend most of his or her time negotiating with the dog owner’s insurance company securing your compensation. However, if an appropriate settlement cannot be reached your attorney can bring your claim to trial and have a jury award appropriate damages.
Texas law requires proof that the owner knew, or should have known, of the vicious nature of the dog prior to the bite in order to recover damages. This does not necessarily mean that the dog has actually has bitten someone in the past. It just means that the dog had to have displayed a vicious propensity in the past. This means that the owner may be free of liability if they can establish that this was the first time the dog has shown any violent or vicious behavior.
However, dog bites can be serious and damaging to our bodies and peace of mind. That’s why we will pursue any legal avenue to hold the dog owner accountable and restore what you have lost.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite Case?
The average settlement for all dog bite cases in the US in 2019 was around $44,000. However, every case is unique. You might be awarded a very different amount.
Funds recovered in dog bite lawsuits often come from insurance companies to cover the costs of medical bills and other needs such as:
- Lost earnings
- Plastic surgery for disfigurement
- Loss of ability to perform everyday tasks
- Psychological counseling for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, nightmares, and depression
We will tally up your financial needs and figure out how much money we may be able to get for you. The total will not be based on the national average, only on the facts of your case.
How Do I Know If a Dog Bite Is Serious?
After a bite, you should get immediate medical help. If possible, you should obtain the dog’s vaccination history from the dog’s owner or animal control. Your physician and hospital can tell you:
- How much damage the dog caused
- How long it will take you to recover
- How much it will cost you
Having this information will tell you generally how financially serious the dog bite was. The dog’s vaccination history can tell you if you may have been exposed to rabies and require costly rabies shots. But, these numbers alone in a vacuum don’t tell the whole story of severity. Mental effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder can go on for years. Scars from an attack can last a lifetime. How much is it worth with someone has taken away the love of dogs from a child forever?
What Happens When a Dog Bite Gets Reported?
Some dog bite victims are afraid of reporting a bite because they think that a dog is going to be put down. However, very few reports lead to that result. Instead, a report can lead to:
- Stricter rules on how that particular dog must be controlled
- A settlement from an insurance company
- Responsibility being placed on the owner
In short, just report any incident. Even if a dog is demonstrating an unusually menacing behavior towards you or others it is better to report. The authorities and your community deserve to have a record of possible or real dangers from dogs.
What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone in Texas?
Call your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company. They will advise you and likely provide you a lawyer at no cost to you. If your dog has never bitten anyone or shown any violent tendencies, you might be able to show that you were not negligent. You did not know that this would happen!
Once your dog has a local record of biting or threatening people, a person who is bitten may have a stronger case against you. You should be on notice that you need to take extra care to keep your dog restrained and warn people of its propensities.
Seek Legal Help in a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Whatever step of the lawsuit you are in, it’s never too early or too late to hire a dog attack lawyer. If you have been bitten, you need an attorney who can represent your best interests and who understands Texas statutes.
If your dog has bitten someone, you also should not face a lawsuit alone. You have the right to be treated justly.
Dog bite lawsuits can be complicated with a lot of moving parts and emotionally difficult negotiations. While you are physically recovering from this traumatic event, you should not have to figure out the legal and insurance aspects of it on your own.
Contact The Law Office of Eric Harron right now to get an experienced dog bite lawyer in the Austin area. We can get you through this case safely and have compensation awarded to you that you deserve.