Austin, Texas Dog Bite Lawyer
If you have been injured in a dog attack, or have sustained injuries as a result of another type of animal attack, then you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Compensation can be obtained for costs of medical care, lost earnings, and pain and mental anguish. Dog and animal attacks are terrifying, and your pain and mental anguish should never be underestimated.
If you or a loved one was injured in a dog attack, contact Austin dog bite attorney, Brooks Schuelke at Schuelke Law, PLLC. We have your back and can explain your legal rights so you may make an informed decision about pursuing a personal injury case. We are able to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Texas Has a Dog Bite Problem
Studies show that dog attacks are a huge problem in Texas and around the country. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that there are roughly 4.5 million dog bite victims per year in the United States. An article published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that over 750,000 people per year in the United States sustained dog bites that necessitate medical care. Another U.S. governmental study found that over 300,000 Americans a year visit emergency rooms as a result of dog bite injuries.
Often, animal and dog attacks are fatal. Between 2005 and 2017 canines killed 433 Americans. By far, the two breeds of dog responsible for the most fatalities are Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. These are dogs who have a lineage of being bred for protection or guarding, and they are large dogs that can cause significant damage and injuries when they do attack.
Unfortunately, Texas seems to be worse than the average state. In a report by dogsbite.org it was revealed that between 2005 and 2013 there were 34 fatalities — more than any other state — resulting from dog bites. The report further indicated that Pit Bulls were responsible for 76 percent of the total number of deaths and that Rottweilers accounted for 15 percent of the total. Pit Bulls have more prominence in Texas compared to the rest of the nation. This is most likely due to the 1991 state wide law prohibiting municipalities from regulating specific dog breeds and perhaps the state’s long reputation for dog-fighting.
Texas data indicates that 68 percent of the dog bite victims were children 11-years-old and younger and 52 percent were 2-years-old and younger.
I pride myself on explaining things to clients. If clients don't understand something about their claim, they can't make good decisions. We try to explain things in detail during meetings and in correspondence. We want you to know and understand what's going on.
- Brooks Schuelke
INSURANCE COMPANIES DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW:
Insurance payouts to people injured through negligence are
with an attorney
Settlements for auto accident victims are
with an attorney
You have one chance to earn
for your injuries & suffering
The "One Bite Rule" Does Not Exist in Texas
Many states have a “one bite rule,” which means that an owner cannot be held liable for a dog’s attack unless the dog has a history of biting another person. Texas does not follow this rule.
Two primary claims can be made against owners in dog bite cases. The most common claim is a negligence claim. Like other personal injury claims, for a negligence claim, you must prove that the dog owner (or person responsible for the dog at the time) failed to use ordinary care, and that the failure to use ordinary care caused your injuries.
The most common allegation that you would make in these claims is that the dog owner failed to use ordinary care by failing to properly restrain the dog. In fact, many local governments in Texas, including both the City of Austin and Travis County, have laws requiring dog owners to have their dogs restrained at all times — Austin has some exceptions for recognized dog parks.
However, failing to properly restrain the dog is not the only way a dog owner may fail to use ordinary care. Other common situations occur when a dog owner may be negligent for failing to properly socialize the dog, failing to properly handle the dog or failing to properly train the dog.
The second common claim is called a strict liability claim. Under a strict liability claim, a person is strictly liable for the actions of the dog, or other domesticated animal, if (1) The person is the owner or the dog or possessor—someone keeping or watching the animal for the owner; (2) the dog had dangerous propensities abnormal to its class; (3) the person knew or had reason to know the dog had dangerous propensities; and (4) those propensities were a producing cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Obviously, the biggest difference between these two claims is that a strict liability claim requires proof that the dog owner knew the dog was dangerous, while a negligence claim does not have that requirement. However, we try to prove that the dog owner knew the dog was dangerous regardless of which claim we’re making. Even for a negligence claim, if you can prove that the dog owner knew the dog was dangerous and still failed to properly handle, train or restrain the dog, the results will be better.
You do not need to have evidence that the dog bit someone to show that the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. The most common factors demonstrating that a dog owner knew or should have known their animal may be vicious include, but are not limited to:
- Size of animal – the larger the animal, the greater the risk of injuries
- Animal breed – such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Huskies
- Aggressive behavior – frequent snapping and biting shows owner knowledge
- Animal fights with other animals – may demonstrate vicious nature
- Frequently confined animal – may indicate a dangerous animal
- Is the dog kept outside – keeping a poorly behaved dog outside allows the dog to practice bad behaviors
- Dog kept on a chain – chaining an animal will increase aggressiveness, and it is illegal in most states
- Muzzling – may indicate a dangerous dog
- Beware of dog warning signs on property – may indicate owner knows dog is dangerous
- Owner received complaints about dog – but did nothing or not enough
- Owner warning strangers about animal – may indicate animal might cause harm to others
- Why the animal is kept – is it a trained guard dog?
20 Years OF TRUST
For 20 years, our personal injury clients have trusted us to help get them the benefits they deserve.
Statute of Limitations
Under either claim, a plaintiff has two years to file the lawsuit. If the claim is not brought within this time frame, then all of your rights are lost.
A Dog Owner's Defenses
A Texas dog owner typically has two defenses against a dog bite claim: trespassing and comparative responsibility.
Trespassing: Texas dog bite laws do not apply to trespassers. If a person is bitten while unlawfully on someone’s private property, the owner may not be liable for the bite.
Comparative negligence: Texas allows a defense based on the comparative negligence of the dog bite victim. That means that any damages awarded by a jury are reduced by the degree of the plaintiff's negligence. For example, a dog owner may argue that the victim provoked the attack. In that case, a jury must allocate fault between the dog owner and the victim. The victim’s recovery is then reduced by the percentage of responsibility. So, if the jury finds that the dog owner was 75 percent responsible and the victim was 25 percent responsible, then the victim’s damages are reduced by 25 percent. If the victim’s fault is more than 50 percent, then the victim cannot recover any damages.
Bystander Emotional Distress
Texas does allow closely related bystanders to recover for emotional distress, but does not allow any plaintiff to sue for negligent infliction of mental anguish. For example, if a parent sees their child attacked, the parent may sue for the distress they suffered watching the attack.
Claims Against Landlords
In some situations, a victim can also make a claim against a landowner if the landowner has actual knowledge of the presence of a vicious animal on the leased premises. When the landowner has knowledge of a dog’s dangerous propensities and presence on the owner’s leased property, then the owner owes a duty of ordinary care to third parties injured by the dog.
For 20 years, the personal injury attorneys at Schuelke Law have been helping accident victims and their families recover damages and get their lives back. Get the benefits you deserve. Get the respect you deserve. Contact Schuelke Law now and setup an appointment. We are dedicated to improving the public perception of lawyers, one client at a time.
What Should You Do After A Dog Attack?
1. Get medical care. Make sure that you get the treatment you need to help with your injuries. That might include a visit to the emergency room, follow up wound care for wounds, plastic surgery for any scarring and therapy for emotional trauma suffered as a result of the dog attack.
2. Check the dog for rabies. You need to make sure the dog is checked for rabies. If you live in a city, most city agencies investigating attacks check for rabies.
3. Get information about the dog owner. At a minimum, you want the owner’s name and address, but the more information you can get, the better.
4. Take pictures of your injuries. Pictures are critical to show insurance adjusters or a jury the extent of your injuries. Take pictures the day of the incident but do not forget to photograph how the injuries are progressing over time.
5. Hire a Texas dog bite attorney. Your case might not need a lawyer, but maybe you do. Talk to a lawyer to make sure you know your rights and to help make sure you don’t make a mistake in pursuing your claim.
Further Dog Bite Statistics for Texas
Thirty-five percent of all fatal dog attacks involved more than one dog.
Six percent or dog attacks involved a pack of dogs (4 or more dogs).
Eighteen percent of the deaths involved chained dogs and 100 percent of these fatalities were children 4-year-old or younger.
Family dogs made up 53 percent of all fatal dog maulings and 88 percent of those attacked occurred on the dog owner’s property.
2006 and 2007 combined accounted for 38 percent of all Texas dog bite fatalities in just over the eight-year period studied.
Harris County had the most fatal dog attacks (5) followed by Bexar County (4) and Montgomery County (3).
Dog Bite Injury Frequently Asked Questions
- Dog Bite FAQs
- Are dog bites a common occurrence?
- Are dog bites common in Texas?
- Are the dog bite laws the same across Texas?
- Are there some common misconceptions about dog bite liability?
- Can you sue for a dog bite in Texas?
- Do I have to prove that the animal that attacked me is vicious?
- Do I have to prove the dog that attacked me was vicious?
- Do I need to take pictures after being bitten by a dog?
- How is liability for a dog bite established?
- How long does it take for a dog bite case to get to/go through court?
- I think the dog that bit me might have rabies. What do I do now?
- I was bitten by a dog the other day and needed stitches. Who is responsible/liable for the dog biting me?
- My mother witnessed a dog attack and someone said there was a possibility of filing a bystander claim. Is that possible?
- My neighbor’s dog bit me and he accused me of provoking the canine. Does that mean I don’t have a lawsuit?
- What am I supposed to do if I get bitten by a dog?
- What are the most common factors showing a dog owner knew or should have known their animal may be vicious?
- What are the worst injuries sustained during a dog attack?
- What compensation can I recover in a dog bite case?
- What do I do if a dog bites me?
- What happens if a dog not previously regarded as dangerous bites me?
- What is the current law in Texas in regard to dog bites?
- Who are usually the victims of dog bites?
- Who is responsible for paying damages in a dog bite case?
- Who responsible for paying any damages after the dog attack?
Contact the Texas Dog Bite Lawyers
The lawyers and staff at Brooks Schuelke at Schuelke Law, PLLC will advocate for your rights. We understand how pursuing a personal injury case, such as a dog attack, can destroy your life. Let us help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Brooks was wonderful to work with. I highly recommend him and I’ll be referring any friends to him that need his services!
– Miriam Keaton