Arlington Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

Dogs are not always man’s best friend. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that dogs bite about 4.5 million people in the U.S. each year. Not all of those are minor nips. Many of them are ferocious attacks that cause serious, life-threatening harm. Careless dog owners and handlers often are the ones to blame.

If you or a family member recently suffered injuries due to a dog bite, you can count on the experienced Arlington personal injury lawyers of Tate Law Offices, P.C. to pursue the justice you deserve. We are a results-driven law firm that will aggressively pursue maximum compensation for you. With offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, we make it convenient to get the legal help you need. Don’t wait to take action. Contact us today for your free consultation.

How Our Arlington Dog Bite Lawyers Can Help You

The insurance company will look at your dog bite injuries purely in financial terms. That’s how insurance companies work. They want to find ways to avoid paying claims so they can maximize their profits. Our attorneys, on the other hand, will look at the person behind the injury and fight for the compensation you deserve.

It starts from the moment we take on your case. The steps we will take for you include:

Investigation

We have dealt with insurance companies for many years. We know their tactics. For instance, an insurer may argue that you or your loved one provoked the dog, or the insurer may claim that the dog had no known history of acting aggressively towards people or other animals. Our investigators will get to the bottom of the story and find the truth. We will:

  • Interview witnesses, including neighbors, bystanders, EMTs, police and animal control officers who responded to the scene
  • Take photos and/or videos and document the scene of the attack
  • Gather and review police reports and animal control records
  • Collect and analyze your medical records.

Expert Consultations

Tate Law Offices, P.C. often works with experts to prepare claims. Medical experts and legal nurse consultants, for instance, can help us to better understand our clients’ injuries and treatment needs. In a dog bite case, we may also turn to experts such as veterinarians, animal control officers and animal behavior specialists.

Settlement Demands

Our attorneys realize that most clients would prefer to resolve their case through a settlement instead of going to court. Once we gather all of the necessary evidence and records in your case, we will submit a persuasive settlement demand to the dog owner’s insurance company. Because of the hard work we invest in preparing settlement demands, we often resolve our clients’ cases without the need to go to trial (or even file a lawsuit).

Litigation

Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, some insurance companies will continue to challenge liability and/or the amount of damages. If the insurance company in your case refuses to pay or makes only a lowball offer, we will be ready to file a lawsuit and go to trial for you.

Resolution

We will focus all our efforts at Tate Law Offices, P.C. on securing full and fair compensation for your dog bite injuries. Our job won’t end after we reach a settlement or obtain a verdict on your behalf. We will work quickly to collect the funds that the insurance company owes to you. You are our top priority. So, we will charge no legal fees unless you recover compensation.

Steps Should You Take After a Dog Bite in Arlington, Texas

Calling a lawyer should be one of the first things that you do after a dog bite. Here are some other steps you should take:

  • Get emergency medical care.
  • Gather as much information as you can from the dog owner.
  • If possible, take photos of the dog, the attack scene and your injuries.
  • Report the dog bite to the police and/or animal control office.
  • Keep the clothing items you wore. (Do not wash them.)
  • Keep all medical bills, receipts, insurance company letters or e-mails and all other documents related to your case.
  • Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company.
  • Never sign anything from an insurance company until you talk with a lawyer first.

Texas Dog Bite and Leash Laws

At Tate Law Offices, P.C. we build solid relationships with our clients through open, honest communication. We will be straightforward with you about your legal options, answer your questions and update you throughout your case. Some of the topics we may discuss with you are:

One-Bite Rule

Texas is a “one-bite rule” state, which means that if a dog has not attacked a person or another animal before or shown signs of being aggressive and dangerous, the owner cannot be held strictly liable for injuries the dog causes. This law can be frustrating for dog bite victims. Many people feel that it shouldn’t matter if the dog has attacked anyone before if they’ve been injured. But don’t give up hope.

While a dog’s owner may not be strictly liable for your bite injuries (meaning that the owner would automatically be responsible for your damages simply by showing the dog bit you), you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries if your lawyer can show that the owner acted negligently. One way of showing negligence is by showing the dog owner failed to properly secure their dog. At Tate Law Offices, we can investigate to see if this legal tactic might be an option for you.

Texas law requires pet owners to keep their dogs within their home or personal property, such as a boat or motor vehicle. If a dog’s owner allows the animal to escape from its home and the dog attacks someone else unprovoked, the owner may be found guilty of criminal negligence. In cases like these, the dog’s owner may argue that the victim provoked the attack. That’s why contacting an experienced lawyer is crucial if you want to recover fair compensation for your injuries.

One way you can establish the legal responsibility of a dog owner (or handler) for a dog bite in Arlington is to show:

  • The dog bit (or tried to bite) someone else before, and
  • The owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dog’s past aggressive behavior.

A previous police report or animal control report could serve as proof that the owner or handler knew about the dog’s dangerous nature. If the owner actually trained the dog to fight or to serve as a guard dog, that could serve as solid evidence as well.

Note: It’s not just the owner who can be held liable for your injuries. If the owner entrusted someone else to care for the dog such as a dog walker or neighbor, then that individual or company could be held liable as well.

Texas’ Leash Laws

Texas does not have a statewide leash law, but cities have the ability to create their own ordinances. There are local statutes such as the Arlington leash laws. Dallas also has a law prohibiting “loose animals” in the community.

If you were injured in a community with a leash law or another ordinance designed to protect the public from loose or dangerous animals that the dog’s owner violated, you might be able to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent and recover compensation for your injuries. Your dog bite lawyer will need to show that the owner’s violation of the law caused or directly contributed to your injuries.

Under Texas law, you may also recover compensation if you can prove that the dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing the dog from biting you or your loved one. For instance, the owner may have left a gate open or failed to properly restrain the dog when children were around it. In this type of claim, you would not need to show that the dog owner knew or should have known about the dog’s prior behavior.

If you can establish that a dog owner violated a “leash law” or other ordinance designed to protect the public from a dangerous dog, and that violation directly caused or contributed to a dog attack that hurt you or a loved one, then the dog owner’s negligence would be presumed. Chapter 7 of the Dallas City Code, for example, prohibits “loose animals.”

Bystander Claims

Texas law recognizes the severe mental anguish that people can experience if they see first-hand a dog viciously attack a close relative such as child or spouse. This is known as a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. Your lawyer from Tate Law Offices, P.C. will closely review the facts of your case and determine whether you can pursue damages under this legal theory.

Dog Attacks on Rental Properties

Sometimes, dog bites take place on rental property. While the dog owner is usually the person responsible, the landlord could also be responsible. For instance, if the landlord knew of the dog’s dangerous propensity, then it may be possible to hold the landlord liable, too.

A big part of our job at Tate Law Offices, P.C. is to identify all sources of compensation. We take this task very seriously. Whether it is a negligent land owner, landlord, tenant or business, we will work hard to collect from those who share responsibility for your injuries.

How to Determine Liability in a Dog Bite Case?

There are a few different ways to determine who may be liable for your injuries when you’ve been bitten by a dog. First, the owner may be liable for your injuries under a legal doctrine called “negligence per se.” To establish dog bite liability via negligence per se, you and your attorney will have to demonstrate that the dog’s owner broke one or more laws governing the behavior and care of dogs. You will also have to show that the owner’s violation of the law directly caused or contributed to your injuries.

The easiest way to prove negligence per se is to show that the dog attacked someone or another animal before, thus breaking Texas’ one-bite rule. If a dog has previously attacked someone and bites another person, this is highly relevant information for your claim.

Another way that attorneys commonly use to establish dog bite injuries liability is a standard claim of negligence. To establish liability through a standard negligence claim, your lawyer will need to show that the dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent their dog from injuring you.

For example, if a dog’s owner fails to adequately secure their dog and leaves their front door or gate open, the dog may get loose and injure someone. In this situation, if the injured party can show that they were not trespassing and did not provoke the dog, they could make a strong case for compensation for their injuries.

Depending on the circumstances of your injuries, the dog’s owner could also face criminal charges. That, in turn, can help establish liability for your injuries. For dog bite injuries, owners can be charged with criminal negligence if:

  • The owner fails to secure their dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on someone at a location other than the owner’s property, or
  • The owner knows their dog is dangerous (as defined by state law) and the dog makes an unprovoked attack somewhere other than a secure enclosure, and
  • Either of these scenarios results in someone’s serious bodily injury or death.

Texas law defines a dangerous dog as:

  • One that makes an unprovoked attack that leads to bodily injuries, if the attack occurred somewhere other than the owner’s property or a secure enclosure, or
  • One that commits unprovoked acts somewhere other than an enclosure, if those acts cause someone to reasonably believe that the dog will attack them and cause them bodily harm.

The law protects dog owners from some arguments that the owner should have known their dog could harm someone. Generally speaking, they must have been informed that their dog is dangerous by an animal control officer or another authority figure before you can use that designation to establish dog bite accident liability for your injuries.

What If the Owners Say It Was My Fault Their Dog Bit Me?

One of the most common defenses dog owners use to avoid paying compensation for dog bite injuries is arguing that you provoked the dog into an attack. This defense applies to most dog bite injury cases, especially when the victim is injured on the dog owner’s property. If the dog’s owner applies this defense successfully, they may avoid being held liable for your injuries and paying you fair compensation.

Here are a few ways that may establish that you were not responsible for the dog bite:

  • You were not on the dog owner’s property, or you were there with the owner’s permission. While trespassers enjoy little legal protection if they’re bitten by a dog, those on the owner’s property legally or outside the property have a much stronger case for compensation. Dog owners are required by law to keep their dogs secure.
  • The dog has a history of dangerous behavior. Police reports, witness accounts, and other evidence may prove that the dog was known to be dangerous.
  • You did not provoke the dog. If you did not provoke the dog, regardless of where you were bitten, you might be owed compensation for your injuries from the dog’s owner. It may be difficult to prove, so you’ll likely need help from a skilled dog bite injury lawyer.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Arlington Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Dog attacks can result in serious injuries such as scarring, disfigurement, torn muscles, strained ligaments, loss of limbs and internal organ injuries. The dog bite may also lead to complications such as infections, rabies or other diseases. At Tate Law Offices, P.C., we will carefully calculate and pursue all damages you are entitled to receive due to your injuries, which could include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disability and/or disfigurement.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a Dog Bite Claim in Texas?

In Texas, you generally must bring a lawsuit for your injuries within two years from the date of an accident. This is called the statute of limitations. If you lost a loved one in a dog attack, then you would have two years from the date of death to bring a lawsuit. Because of these time limits, you should meet with an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after you or a loved one suffers injuries in a dog attack. At Tate Law Offices, P.C., we will advise you of the time limits that apply to your case, and we will work efficiently to make sure that your dog bite claim is filed on time.

Our Arlington Dog Bite Attorneys Are Ready to Help You

You should not have to suffer because of a dog owner’s negligence. Tate Law Offices, P.C. will fight for the compensation you deserve and provide the caring, compassionate and professional service that you should expect from your lawyer. We know your case is important to you. It will be important to us, too. With offices in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, we can meet with you right away. Contact us today for a free consultation.