Experienced Texas Dog Bite Attorneys
As Texas dog bite attorneys, we have seen how people can suffer serious, even potentially life-altering injuries due to a dog attack. Whether the attack was triggered because the owner was negligent in raising, housing, or keeping the dog, or the dog simply mistook someone’s actions as a call for an aggressive response, a dog attack can result in permanent scarring, crippling nerve injuries, and even death. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite attack, you deserve to pursue compensation for the damages you have suffered but Texas law does not make this easy in many cases. The sooner you speak to a Texas dog bite law firm that can investigate the circumstances of your incident, the more likely you are to find the critical evidence you need to hold those responsible accountable for their negligent actions.
Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. immediately at (713) 932-0777 for a free consultation so we can discuss your case. Our law firm has been handling Texas dog bite cases since 1979.
The Risks and Dangers of Dog Bites in Texas
Despite the positive reputation of many dogs, dog bites are an all-too-common occurrence, and you are more likely to be attacked by a dog than you realize.
Nationwide, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people every year, based on estimates from both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association — nearly 800,000, or 1 in 5 of them, require medical attention afterward. Children are the most likely to be bitten by dogs, but people of any age can be at risk. Dog bites are among the most 20 common injuries documented in the United States, and more people are injured by dog attacks than by motorcycle accidents, firearm gunshots, and drowning.
Contrary to popular belief, a dog attack can occur regardless of the dog breed and/or the size of the dog. Even smaller dogs can still cause severe injuries to its victims.
While one animal attack may be mild, others can result in serious injuries for victims, especially if an individual is attacked by more than one dog. Common dog bite injuries may include:
- Puncture wounds. These typically as tiny holes in your arm, leg, or body caused by the dog’s pointed teeth.
- Lacerations. Gashes caused by the dog’s teeth sinking in and tearing away.
- Broken bones. The bite force of some dogs is strong enough to crush and break bones.
- Degloving injuries. When a dog gets hold of a digit or even a limb of a small child, a degloving injury may occur where the flesh is literally peeled back from the bone.
- Infection. If dog bite wounds are not cleaned and debrided properly, germs may become trapped inside the body resulting in very unpleasant and sometimes dangerous infections developing.
- Rabies. Although rare these days, a rabid dog can spread rabies to humans through a bite. This is why Texas law requires you and any medical professionals treating you, to report dog bites to the appropriate animal control.
- Nerve damage or loss of function. Nerves in the arms, fingers, legs, and toes are vulnerable to being severed or damaged as a result of dog bites. These can develop into seriously painful conditions like Regional Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).
- Loss of fingers, toes, or other limbs. Severance of digits is a sadly common injury. If the severed part can be preserved, reattachment may be possible.
- Scarring or disfigurement. Visible scars are one of the most common injuries in dog bites. Depending upon the location, the victim may carry psychological wounds for the rest of their life.
- Eye, ear, mouth, and facial injuries. When dogs attack, they often go for the most vulnerable parts such as the face.
- Emotional distress and trauma. The emotional trauma of going through a dog attack often results in long-term psychological effects or PTSD. A fear of dogs, jumping at every time a dog barks in the distance, and panic attacks are not uncommon.
- Death. Sadly some dog attacks are fatal.
Many of these injuries can be permanently disabling or debilitating. Even if they aren’t, you may still suffer tremendous hardship and mental anguish—not to mention expensive medical bills and other possible expenses linked to physical rehabilitation as you work your way back to health.
What Causes Dog Attacks?
Every dog and every situation is different, so there is no one single cause of dog attacks. It is possible for you to be attacked through absolutely no fault of your own.
Some dogs may be mistreated by their owners or put in situations that predispose them towards aggressive or antisocial behavior. Other dogs may not have a history of aggression but may respond accordingly when they find themselves in unfamiliar, scary, or stressful environments, especially around people they don’t know.
It is the responsibility of every dog owner to take the proper care and precautions with their dogs, particularly in public settings, and ensure that they have the necessary training and restraints (such as a leash or a harness). In the case where someone has suffered from a dog attack, it is important for them to first seek medical attention. Afterward, you must document as much as you can related to the attack. This may include photos of the injury, in addition to recovering medical records and/or a police report if one was made.
If you or a family member has recently suffered an injury as a result of a dog bite injury, you should seek out legal advice from an experienced dog bite lawyer in Texas. At Simmons & Simmons P.C., our team of dog bite lawyers has extensive experience assisting those who are left traumatized and scarred following their attack. Whether it is a question of premises liability or wrongful death, we are here to listen to you and examine the circumstances surrounding your situation. We will make every effort to accompany you through the legal process of filing your dog bite claim and to prove the owner was liable for their dog’s actions.
Call us today for your free case consultation: (713) 932-0777.
Texas Law on Dog Bites
Dog bites may be a surprisingly common public health issue, but they are preventable. With proper attention, dog owners can minimize the risks of their dogs attacking another person. Unfortunately, not all owners are so conscientious, and you may be able to establish liability for any dog bite injuries you might sustain.
In Texas, there are several different laws and statutes that govern dog bite attacks. These include:
The Texas One Bite Rule
The One-Bite Rule is a common law standard in numerous states, which holds owners responsible for aggressive acts their dog commits—but only if they know that the dog has a tendency to be violent, or has previously acted violently. This has been further codified as the State of Texas Dangerous Dog Law. Both depend on the owner’s prior knowledge, which can be a difficult standard to prove, whether or not the dog previously attacked someone.
Lillian’s Law in Texas
Named for a victim who was killed by a pack of dogs, Lillian’s Law is a law in Texas that establishes strict criminal negligence penalties for owners whose dogs attack someone. It is limited to dogs running off of their own property, however, and still relies on proving the owner knew the risks beforehand.
Negligent Handling of a Dog is based on any negligent action of the owner in situations where they can and should know better. Because this does not require any prior evidence or awareness of violent tendencies on the part of the owner, it can offer a lower standard of proof than the One-Bite Rule.
Under the Dangerous Dog Law, each municipality can also enact different or stricter laws. There may also be leash laws as well, which can establish liability if an owner knowingly lets their dog walk or run off their leash.
Why should I hire a Texas dog bite lawyer?
We understand you may be hesitant to file a lawsuit for your dog bite. But if you experienced severe injuries and financial costs as a result of a dog bite, you are entitled to explore legal action to get compensation for your damages.
A dog bite lawyer in Texas at Simmons & Fletcher, P.C. is an invaluable asset for a personal injury lawsuit like this one. Especially given the different dog bite laws and burdens of proof at play, you will need to work with someone who understands these statutes and how to best examine and establish liability for what happened.
An attorney will help by:
- Evaluating your case to determine if laws were violated and if there is merit to proceeding with legal action;
- Investigating and gathering evidence to compile a full and complete understanding of the accident and how it occurred, including who was at fault;
- Determining how much your dog bite claim is worth, based on the degree of culpability of the owner and the extent of your injuries, both physical and emotional, as well as any present and future lost wages or earning potential;
- Representing you in all interactions with the defendants and relevant insurance companies, as well as negotiating on your behalf on any settlement offers;
- Assisting with your recovery by helping to find you the doctors and medical care you need.
- Guiding you through the legal process (and if necessary, in court) if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
An experienced dog bite lawyer in Texas will work to get you a fair settlement based on the details of your case, but they should also be prepared to go to trial if they are unable to reach an agreement with the defending parties.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim in Texas?
The Statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim in Texas for adults is two years from the date of the attack. Minors have until their 20th birthday to bring a claim, however, the right to collect the minor’s medical bills up until the age of 18 belongs solely to the parent or guardian and will be forever lost if the parent or guardian does not file within their 2-year statute of limitations. Moreover, critical evidence and key witnesses may be lost if you delay in bringing your claim to the attention of a qualified dog bite attorney. Thus you should talk to a Texas animal attack lawyer as soon as possible after the attack.
Am I Required by Law to Report a Dog Bite?
Yes. Chapter 826.041 of the Texas Health and Safety Code requires every dog bite or scratch to be reported by any person having knowledge of the bite or scratch if there is a reasonably foreseeable chance of rabies transmission. It may be reported in the county where the victim lives, the animal resides, or where the bite occurred. This duty to report extends to everyone including any emergency room medical provider or family physician you report to for treatment. It is best to report it where the bite occurs because that is likely where the investigation will start.
What Are Common Reasons For Dog Bites Resulting In Liability in Texas?
Of the hundreds of dog bites we have handled in Texas, the most common reasons dog bites occur that result in liability on the part of the dog owner are as follows:
- Leaving the dog free to roam inside a home while a stranger is in the home and the dog gets scared or confused by their presence.
- Leaving an infant or toddler unattended or unwatched in a home or yard where there is an unrestrained dog present.
- Failing to secure gates, latches, or loose boards in fences which, in turn, allows a dog to escape.
- Failing to secure a dog before answering the door for a delivery driver or other stranger.
- Failing to keep one’s dog on a leash.
- Allowing a stranger to go near a dog that has recently given birth or had surgery.
What Makes a Dog Become Aggressive?
There are many reasons a dog may become aggressive. It is extremely important for the owner to avoid behaviors that can contribute to this and identify ways to break the cycle when it starts. Some of the most common reasons dogs become aggressive are:
- Improper socialization. Dogs are pack animals. If you never take them around other animals in a safe setting, they will not know how to behave or respond to commands when they are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar setting with a strange dog. Furthermore, allowing your dog to lead on walks can result in the dog identifying themselves as the “alfa” of your pack making them overprotective of you. They may attempt to show their dominance when it is unwanted or uncalled for resulting in the dog biting someone.
- Abuse, Neglect, or Mistreatment. Animal abuse should be reported to the police. Although it is a crime sadly it happens. people may simply chain or tether the dog to a tree outside or may intentionally train it to be a fighting dog or an aggressive guard dog. All of these things are mistreatment of animals and simply should not happen.
- Fear. When a dog is placed in a situation where it feels backed into a corner it may very well come out swinging.
- Jealousy. A new pet or baby in the home can cause a dog to feel like it is no longer getting the attention it needs. As a result, the dog may lash out. The owner of a dog in such a situation will need to make sure they are not ignoring or neglecting the dog.
- Overly Aggressive Play. Some owners allow too much roughhousing between the dog and themselves or the dog and other dogs. Regular aggressive play can cause the dog to be confused and think that others will want to do the same.
- Illness or Injury. When a dog doesn’t feel well or is in physical pain from an injury, their personality and patience may change causing them to snap at people uncharacteristically. Additionally, dogs, like people can suffer from mental or emotional disorders as well as medical disorders such as arthritis, cancer, and tumors. If your dog suddenly exhibits aggressive behavior and it is abnormal for your dog to do so, consider a visit to the vet.
- Possessiveness. Dogs often become possessive of things they perceive as ‘theirs,” such as chew toys, food dishes, and sometimes even favorite spots. It is important to recognize that dogs can become aggressive if they think someone is taking away something that ‘belongs’ to them.
What Types of Insurance Covers Dog Bites?
There are four main types of insurance coverage that may apply in a dog bite case: homeowner’s insurance, commercial general liability insurance, renter’s insurance, and canine liability insurance. If there is coverage, you will need to file a claim. Sadly, not all dog owners are responsible enough to carry insurance. Others think they have insurance but are simply not savvy enough to realize that there is an exclusion in their policy that applies to their dog. The main types of insurance that may apply in a dog bite case are as follows:
- Homeowner’s Insurance. Some homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bites. If it applies, it will be able to cover dog bites occurring both on and off the owner’s property. In general, unless the policy excludes dog bites, it is presumed covered. However, due to the millions of dollars insurance companies are paying out every single year in dog bite claims, many homeowner’s policies contain exclusions. The exclusion may exclude all animal bites, just dog bites, just bites by certain dog breeds, or just specific pets.
- Commercial General Liability Insurance. When the dog is at someone’s place of business whether as a pet or as a guard dog, a commercial general liability insurance policy may provide coverage.
- Renter’s Insurance. Renter’s insurance basically acts the same as homeowner’s insurance but it is for someone who is a tenant on the property. It is most common in apartments where the complex requires renters to purchase renter’s insurance. It acts the same as homeowner’s insurance but it is usually a lower amount of coverage. Exclusions may also apply.
- Canine Liability Insurance. These are very rarely seen policies that are purchased by the dog owner in the event their dog bites someone. They are sometimes found in cases where the dog has a history of a prior bite and the owner is required to provide proof of insurance to get his dog back from quarantine by animal control after a bite.
When there is coverage. the above policies typically will provide two types of coverage. They will pay for the legal defense of the dog owner and they will pay to defend any personal injury claim made by the victim.
What Are Common Homeowner’s Insurance Exclusions that May Apply in Dog Bite Cases?
Insurance exclusions in dog bite cases can take many forms. They are clauses designed to get the insurance company out of responsibility for covering a dog bite. The common types of homeowners insurance exclusions that affect dog bite claims include:
- Exclusions for injury caused by any animal.
- Exclusions for any injury caused by a dog.
- Exclusions for dog bites specifically.
- Exclusions for injury caused by specific breeds of dogs as defined in the policy.
- Exclusions for dogs with a history of biting someone or aggression toward humans.
- Exclusions for non-named or disclosed animals.
- Exclusions for business use of property where a breeding or boarding business is being operated in someone’s home.
It is important to obtain and inspect a copy of the actual insurance policy to determine what exclusions if any may apply. You will also want to look at the Limitations of Coverage section to determine what the applicable insurance policy limits are in your case specifically for dog bites. Because a dog bite can cause extensive and expensive damages, it has become popular for insurance companies to have a separate (much lower) coverage limit on how much they will pay for a dog bite claim. If you are a dog owner, protect your rights and assets by reading your policy carefully and making sure you have enough insurance coverage to protect you in the event your dog causes severe injury to someone.
Do Dogs Really Attack Postmen?
Sadly, dogs have a reputation for chasing postal workers for a reason. Postal workers nationwide accounted for over 5,400 victims of dog bites in 2021 according to the USPS annual dog bite report. Texas was 2nd on the top 10 dog bite states list with 778 postal workers bitten by dogs in 2020 and 2021. When this happens to you, a dog bite attorney can help.
Which Animal Control Should I Contact?
Sometimes there are multiple animal control departments that seem to have an interest in a dog attack. Plus some areas have both county and city animal control departments. If you are attacked by an aggressive dog, be sure to find your local animal control and report the incident so that a record of the attack is documented. Here are several of the Texas area animal controls’ contact information:
- Houston area animal control phone numbers.
- Katy area animal control phone numbers.
- Galveston area animal control phone numbers.
- Montgomery County animal control numbers.
- Austin area animal control phone numbers.
- Dallas area animal control phone numbers.
- Fort Worth area animal control phone numbers.
- San Antonio area animal control phone numbers.
How Common are Dog Bite Insurance Claims?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 17,597 claims made in 2022 and 17.989 made in 2021 against homeowner’s insurance policies for dog bites. This number, however, does not reflect claims made against canine liability insurance policies, commercial general liability insurance policies, or uninsured corporate defendants. Additionally, attacks by dogs cause 800,000 people to seek medical care every year. Yet we know that many people who have potential claims do not follow up and seek medical care or pursue their claim.
Other Helpful Links:
- Dog Bite Ordinances for Southeast Texas
- Tomball leash laws may help to make up for inadequacies in Texas dog attack laws.
- Sample Open Records Request for dog bite incident reports.
- Insurance issues in Texas dog bite cases.
Choose Simmons & Fletcher, P.C. as your Texas Dog Bite Lawyer and Get Your Free Case Consultation
In your time of need, you deserve a law firm that you can count on to represent your case and your most sacred values.
At Simmons and Fletcher, we are a Christian law firm with a deep commitment to our clients and our communities. We support them with deep care and consideration through a variety of personal injury lawsuits, advocating to try and get them the results and the justice they deserve.
We have a track record of exceptional knowledge, experience, and results for our clients, with millions of dollars in recovery for a variety of personal injury settlements.
Suffering a serious dog bite is a traumatic event, and we understand that you may not only be in tremendous physical and psychological pain—you may also be struggling under a large amount of financial stress, especially if you are dealing with medical bills or creditors.
At Simmons & Fletcher, P.C., we work on a contingency fee basis and only collect payment as a percentage of any settlement or verdict you receive. That means that you owe no money upfront—we will not charge you a single fee or expense unless we get a settlement or a verdict for you. Our priority is our clients and their well-being, so you can have peace of mind and focus on your recovery while we handle your case.
Put Your Trust in a Texas Dog Bite Attorney Who Has Your Back
When considering a lawsuit after a dog bite, look no further than Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Our personal injury practice has served Texas for over four decades and we always lead with compassion and understanding for those left vulnerable following injury.
Contact us today: (713) 932-0777 to schedule your free consultation so we can discuss the specific details of your case and help you determine your legal options.