Since 2014, the average dog bite settlement has increased 16 percent, to over $37,000. Higher medical expenses explain part of that increase. Better understanding and treatment of dog bite injuries play a role as well.
Physically, dog bite wounds are difficult to treat. Most victims sustain both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. As a result, these injuries usually require reconstructive surgery, especially if the victim is a small child.
Emotional dog bite injuries are also difficult to treat. Many victims struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms for many months following the attack.
Because of these difficulties, and because of the victim-friendly dog bite laws in Texas, a Weatherford personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. The damages typically include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Your Claim for Damages
Texas courts use the one-bite rule in these situations. Owners are liable for dog bite damage if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. Evidence on this point includes:
Prior attacks against people, no matter how vicious the attack was,
Aggressive barking just before the attack,
Pre-attack baring of teeth, and
Vicious growling before the attack.
Victim/plaintiffs must establish knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little proof goes a long way in these situations.
Negligence per se, which is the violation of a statute, might be an option as well. Texas has very restrictive animal restraint laws. Some Parker County municipalities have even stricter laws. If the owner violated a restraint law and that violation substantially caused injury, the owner may be liable for damages.
Texas is also one of the only states where owners are responsible for damages if they fail to stop an attack in progress. Sometimes these attacks happen so fast there is little anyone can do. But most well-trained animals should respond to verbal commands to “stop” or “heel.”
Warning signs, like “Beware of Dog,” have little or no legal effect in the Lone Star State. But Parker County courts do permit the contributory negligence defenses in these situations. If both victim and owner were partially at fault, the court will reduce the victim’s damages.
Texas is a modified comparative fault state with a 50 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 50 percent responsible for the bite, the victim still receives a proportionate share of damages.
Significantly, different victims have different standards of care. For example, small children are usually careless around animals. So, children sometimes are unable to avoid attacks that an adult could have averted.
Dog bites often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and hospital visits are available.