Dogs are the most popular pet in Austin and throughout the state. People bring these animals into their homes for companionship, work, or to provide protection. Regardless of the reasons why people choose to own dogs, they have a responsibility to keep these animals under control. Sometimes, a lack of control or supervision allows these animals to get loose and cause harm.
Dog bites resulting from animal attacks are serious matters. Not only can a bite tear a person’s skin and cause bleeding, but prompt medical care may be necessary to prevent the onset of infection. These severe injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages.
Even so, a dog owner is not automatically liable for an attack. Some laws, such as Texas’s “one-bite rule,” can allow some negligent dog owners to escape responsibility. An Austin dog bite lawyer could help prevent this from happening. The Austin personal injury lawyers at Loncar Lyon Jenkins wants to help you hold the liable party responsible for your damages.
State Laws Concerning Dog Bites
Whether or not the dog’s owner is liable for your bite injuries is a complex question. While many states have passed laws regarding dog owner liability, Texas relies on a nearly 50-year-old court case for determining when a dog owner is liable for an attack.
The Texas Supreme Court case of Marshall v. Ranne, 511 SW 2d 255 (Tex. S.C. 1974) remains the controlling law concerning dog attacks. In short, this case requires the victim of a bite to prove that the owner of the animal knew or should have known about the animal’s violent tendencies prior to an attack. This can be more difficult than it sounds.
Supporting evidence may consist of:
- A previous attack by the animal outlined in a police report
- A government determination that the animal is dangerous
- Local laws that classify the animal as being per se dangerous, such as an exotic animal
- Veterinary records that document an animal’s aggressive tendencies
The aforementioned court case creates the one-bite rule. The owners of dogs enjoy protection under the law in instances where a dog has no violent past. As a result, an essential part of many dog bite cases is investigating the animal’s past and the owner’s knowledge of that past. Our Austin dog bite lawyer can take the lead in performing this investigation.
We can interview witnesses and neighbors to determine the facts of the case and the previous behavior of the dog. Our experienced dog bite lawyers can check with law enforcement and local vets to build an accurate picture of the dog in question. Any video of the incident or previous incidents can be used as evidence to support your case.
It’s Critical to Act Fast
Another essential portion of dog bite cases is the statute of limitations. This is the time limit within which you must demand compensation for your losses through a lawsuit. If this time limit expires and you have not yet filed a case in court, it may be impossible to collect payment.
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.003, this time limit may be as little as two years after the date of the bite. It is essential that you act quickly to protect your legal rights so that you do not lose your right to compensation.
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Parties That May Be Liable Following a Dog Bite Incident
Many parties may share fault for your losses. Of course, the animal’s owner is usually responsible for the actions of their animals. As long as you can prove the animal’s violent past using the framework discussed above, the owner may be liable for the actions of their pet.
However, other parties may share fault for the incident depending on the exact facts of your case. For example, it may be possible to demand compensation through a homeowner’s insurance policy if the bite occurred on a property owner’s land. A similar concept applies to bites that take place in apartment buildings that allow dangerous animals to live on the premises.
The immediate aftermath of a dog bite can be extremely disorienting and you will have a lot more pressing problems in front of you than who is at fault. Particularly in the case of a severe bite, you may be looking at nerve damage, reconstructive surgery, bone fractures, and more. As a bite victim, you may not have the time or energy to focus on all of the responsible parties. But the personal injury lawyers at Loncar Lyon Jenkins can work to determine every party that may share liability for your losses.
Suffering a Dog Bite Can Impact Every Portion of Your Life
To secure financial recovery, your lawyer will need to evaluate how the dog’s bite has affected your life. The most obvious impact is the resulting physical injury. Dog bites have the potential to cause puncture wounds, tear at your flesh, or result in broken bones or separated joints. This may have occurred as a result of the bite itself or while you tried to free yourself from the attack. You may be able to include the cost of your reasonable health care expenses into the value of your personal injury claim.
It is also possible that the attack may leave you unable to work. This can be due to the need to attend medical appointments or because of a permanent injury that resulted from the bite. If you missed time from work due to your injury, again, those losses can be factored into the value of your claim.
Another common source of compensation is emotional trauma. Dog bites can be frightening experiences, and making a full recovery can require months of mental health counseling. Long after you’ve received medical attention and the medical costs of any bodily injury have been dealt with, you could still have years of mental anguish and emotional distress to contend with. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can take years of recovery and insurance policies may not cover all of it. A dog’s negligent owner who allows an attack to occur is just as liable for your lost quality of life as your medical bills.
An Austin dog bite lawyer will help you evaluate the cost and extent of your damages before entering into negotiations with the liable insurance company. Let us help you hold the irresponsible dog owner accountable.
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Call Loncar Lyon Jenkins Today to Protect Your Rights
The dog bite laws in Austin grant owners a significant level of latitude when it comes to controlling their animals. The one-bite rule results in many injured people struggling to prove their claims for damages. However, certain situations still leave owners responsible for the actions of their dogs. Still, it falls to injured claimants to prove the animal’s violent past.
An Austin dog bite lawyer stands ready to fight for you. We understand the state’s laws concerning dog bites and what you need to prove to prevail in a claim. We will work to discover all evidence that points to poor dog ownership and the extent of your losses. Using this information, we aim to obtain fair compensation from the dog’s owner, homeowners’ insurance companies, and even the owners of apartment buildings.
Call the legal team at Loncar Lyon Jenkins today or complete a Free Case Evaluation form.