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Dog Bites

Dog Bites

Texas residents are definitely dog lovers. According to data collected by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 44 percent of Texas households have at least one dog. With more dogs come more dog bites. In 2013 Texas was also deemed number one for dog bites and number two in 2016. 

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention released statistics stating that 94 percent of dog bites are unprovoked. This means the majority of dog bite victims did not aggravate the attacking dog. In addition to this, children are currently the most common victims of dog bites. 

Since so many Texans own dogs, bites are bound to happen. A severe dog bite can be life changing and lead to serious medical costs, treatment, and possible disfigurement. If you’ve been involved in a dog bite incident, it’s vital that you act now and speak to a personal injury lawyer. 

Houston Attorney for Dog Bites in Texas

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. If you’ve recently been bitten by a dog, you must act now. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, time is limited. Call Matthew Horak at Horak Law to obtain trusted legal representation now. 

Matthew Horak is an experienced attorney who has handled numerous dog bite cases. He is passionate about helping his client’s recover and takes the time to inform them throughout every phase of the case. Schedule a time to talk with Matthew Horak. He will evaluate your case and assess if you are able to receive compensation.    

Call us today at (713) 225-8000, Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area including surrounding communities such as Webster, Westbury, Houston Heights, Meyerland and Missouri City.

Overview of Dog Bites in Texas

Common Injuries from Dog Bites

For the most part, we don’t want to believe our dogs can cause lasting damage. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. A dog bite can result in a variety of injuries depending on its severity. In addition to physical harm, victims of dog bites have also reported psychological side effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The following are some injuries that may result from a dog bite.

  • Amputations;
  • Avulsions;
  • Infections;
  • Psychological damage;
  • Facial disfigurement;
  • Puncture injuries;
  • Bone dislocation or broken bones;
  • Lacerations;
  • Contusions; and
  • Abrasions.

Who is Liable for Dog Bites in Texas?

A plaintiff can file a claim for a dog bite in two ways, strict liability or negligence. In a strict liability case the dog must already be established as dangerous for the owner to be liable. If the dog has bitten or harmed a person before, then the court will classify the animal as vicious. The injured plaintiff must be able to prove the following elements to receive a settlement.

  • The dog has attacked or bitten another person;
  • The defendant was aware of the dog’s temperament and prior behavior; and
  • The dog bit or attacked the plaintiff.

Another way to pursue a dog bite claim is on the grounds of negligence. Negligence is a lack of ordinary or rational care or the absence of the kind of care a reasonable person would exercise in the same circumstances.  Basically, if a person is negligent they are being reckless or careless.

If the owner fails to handle their dog properly, this could be considered negligence. For example, if the defendant has a dog that is known to be vicious but leaves the animal out without a leash this would be a negligent act.  To recover from a negligent handling claim the plaintiff must prove all of the following to a judge or jury:

  • The defendant owned the dog;
  • The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the dog from biting or attacking other people;
  • The defendant did not uphold or failed to meet that duty of reasonable care; and
  • Because the defendant did not uphold their duty the plaintiff was attacked or bitten. 

Criminal Dog Bite Laws in Texas

In Texas, being grossly negligent of your dog can be a crime. Texas Health and Safety Code § 822.005 states a person can be criminally charged if his or her negligent behavior causes serious bodily injury or death to another person. The following are the elements for Texas’s dog bite statute: 

A person commits an offense if they are the owner of a dog and: 

  • Is criminally negligent and doesn’t secure the dog and the animal makes an unprovoked attack on another person; and
  • The attack happens at a public place, the defendant’s boat, or the defendant’s motor vehicle; and
  • The attack causes serious bodily injury or death to the other person.

The statute also states a person commits an offense if they are the dog owner and:

  • They knew the dog was dangerous; and
  • The dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person at a place other than a secure enclosure for the dog to be restrained; and
  • The attack causes serious bodily injury or death to another person.

Texas Penal Code § 6.03 states that a person is criminally negligent if they exhibit inappropriate conduct when they ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk because of the circumstances of the situation. 

Texas law defines a dog as dangerous if any of the following happens:

  • The dog previously attacked another person;
  • The owner received a notice from Texas courts that the dog is dangerous;
  • The owner is told by animal control that the dog is dangerous.

The penalty for the criminally negligent of handling a dog is a third-degree felony which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the dog results in the death of another person, it’s a second-degree felony which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Additionally, the dog will be ordered to be euthanized by the court. 

What Do I Do if A Dog Bit Me?

Going into shock after a dog bite is common. Most people don’t expect unprovoked attacks and may not know what to do next. Although it’s understandable to be overwhelmed, you must try to be proactive to prevent further damage. A dog bite can lead to serious injuries that can affect your personal and professional life.

If  a dog has attacked you, it’s highly advisable you do the following:

  1. Get away from the dog and the attack;
  2. Find a safe place to call a first responder;
  3. Find the dog’s owner;
  4. If able, take photos of the dog, location, and your injuries;
  5. Get identifying information of the dog’s owner such as name, number, address;
  6. Write down eyewitness statements; and
  7. Call animal control or law enforcement.

The last, and possibly most important tip is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. You have a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages. The statute of limitations for a dog bite is only two years. If a dog has injured you due to another’s negligence, you must act and call a personal injury attorney today. 

Additional Resources

Animal Bites – Gain access to a how-to guide to animal bites provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Find more information on what happens to animals after bites, what the rabies vaccination requirements are in Texas, and how to prevent an animal from biting you.

Preventing Dog Bites – Visit the official website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and find more information on how to prevent dog bites. Read more about dog bite data and statistics collected by the CDC, the dos and don’ts to interacting with dogs, and what to do if you are bitten or attacked by a dog.

Dog Bite Lawyer in Harris County, Texas

Texas is known to be one of the leading states in dog bites. An attack can lead to expensive medical bills, missed days of work, psychological effects and more. There’s no reason you should suffer unconditionally. If you’ve recently been bitten by a dog, it’s recommended that you contact Matthew Horak at Horak Law. 

Attorney Matthew Horak is familiar with both civil and criminal procedures regarding dog bites. He has represented numerous people in dog bite personal injury cases. With his resources and experience, Matthew Horak can help you make the first steps towards recovery. Call (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation with Matthew Horak.

Horak Law files claims for clients throughout the greater Harris County area including adjoining counties such as Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, and Liberty County.

This article was last updated on November 27, 2018.


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