Houston Dog Bite Lawyer
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 Houston 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 Houston, we make it convenient to get the legal help you need. Don’t wait to take action. Contact us today for free consultation.
How Our Houston 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:
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.
Tate Law Offices 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.
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).
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.
We will focus all our efforts at Tate Law Offices 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 Houston
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.
Your Rights and Options in Houston After a Dog Bite
At Tate Law Offices, 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 way you can establish the legal responsibility of a dog owner (or handler) for a dog bite in Houston 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.
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.
Negligence Per Se
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.”
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 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 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.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Houston 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, 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, 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 Houston Dog Bite Attorneys Are Ready to Help You
You should not have to suffer because of a dog owner’s negligence. Tate Law Offices 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.