Dog Bite Claims

Published on July 03, 2012   Trevor A. Taylor

Dog Bite Injury Attorney

dog bite injury attorneyVictims of a vicious dog bite attack can suffer serious and life altering dog bite injuries. Unfortunately, you can expect insurance companies to minimize or undervalue these injuries—which is why you need a competent dog bite injury attorney working on your behalf.

There are several potential theories of responsibility that a competent injury attorney can pursue against an animal owner. The first theory involves strict liability against the owner. Under Texas Law, the owner of a dog, or one who is in possession of the dog, is strictly liable for dog bites,  injuries and damages sustained as a result of an attack when the animal has dangerous propensities abnormal to its class and the owner knew or had reason to know the animal had dangerous propensities. Marshall v. Ranne, 511 S.W.2d 255, 258 (Tex. 1974). An animal’s “class” is not limited to its specific breed–a pit bull should be compared to other dogs, not just other pit bulls. Marshal, 511 S.W.2d at 258 (Tex. 1974); Restatement of Torts §509(1).

Some insurance adjusters will claim that every dog has “one free bite,” arguing that the owner didn’t actually know about any previous incident. But this argument misstates the law: it is not necessary that the owner have actual, subjective knowledge of the animal’s aggressive behavior or that the animal have ever bitten someone. An owner can be liable for the dog bite injury if he had “reason to know” of the animal’s dangerous propensities. When this happens, you need the help of a good dog bite injury attorney like Trevor.

An owner can also be held accountable for his negligent in handling of the animal. Unlike in a suit for strict liability, the victim does not have to prove that the dog was vicious or dangerous in a suit for negligent handling of an animal. What constitutes negligent handling? Generally, an individual owes a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent his or her animal from injuring others—which includes being aware of circumstances that might cause an ordinarily gentle animal to attack other animals or people resulting in a dog bite injury. Restatement (2d) of Torts §518 cmts. e, f, h.

An owner may be liable for violation of local ordinances relating to animal care under a theory of negligence per se. Under Texas law, violations of city ordinances regarding pet handling and care have been found to support negligence per se. Gill v. Rosas, 821 S.W.2d 689, 691 (Tex. App. – El Paso 1991, no writ). The City of Austin has ordinances requiring that owner’s keep their dog on a leash or under control at all times. It also has an ordinance prohibiting the chaining or tethering of a dog unless the owner is holding the chain or tether. If violation of these ordinances cause an injury, the owner can be held accountable. When this happens, you need to contact a good dog bite injury attorney such as Trevor to protect your interests.

Finally, insurance companies tend to undervalue injuries caused by dog attacks. The medical expenses, while often times significant, may pale in comparison with the permanent disfigurement victims suffer from the remaining scarring a dog bite injury may leave. The attack itself is traumatic, potentially producing lasting psychological injuries. A competent dog bite injury lawyer can held develop and present this evidence in a manner that best protects a victims interests. A personal injury attorney like Trevor Taylor can protect your rights and represent you after you have suffered a dog bite injury.

For a free evaluation of your dog bite case, contact my office at (512) 322-0202 and ask to speak to Trevor.

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