No one aspires to be attacked by an animal. The more severe cases can lead to hospitalization and death, but even cases that don't get that far can be very problematic. For example, the animal that did the biting could infect the victim with the rabies virus, which is a huge concern.
While no one wants to find themselves in this situation, it's essential to be ready to navigate it effectively should this come up. To this end, today is all about covering the legal elements of animal bites that may come with rabies concerns and what potential victims may need to know to get through them with the best possible outcome.
What Does the Texas Health and Safety Code Have to Say?
The state of Texas requires all bites from cats and dogs to be investigated by the applicable Local Rabies Control Authority. It shouldn't be too hard to confirm which body has been given that authority in a given city. In Houston, for example, there are a host of options, and an animal control officer can provide greater details on how the process works.
The next concern is if the skin was broken during the attack. If that is the case, the animal must be submitted to a 10-day quarantine period. Should the animal have an owner, the choice can be made to have the quarantine period take place at a veterinary clinic. Note that there must be an existing relationship between the owner and this clinic for this course of action to be acceptable.
If there is no such relationship, then the quarantine will need to take place at Animal Services and the said owner will be responsible for all fees including vaccination, monitoring, housing, and impoundment. Even if the owner chooses not to reclaim the animal after this period, the fees will still be due.
Note that euthanizing is not an option where Animal Services is aware that the cats or dogs have an owner. Once the quarantine period has ended, owners have the right to go in to collect their animals.
The biting animal is not excluded from having the virus because of the quarantine period. Instead, it's a measure taken to ascertain if the rabies virus may have been present in the saliva of the animal when the attack took place.
Texas Rabies Vaccination Requirements
The state of Texas requires that cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies by the time they are 16 weeks old. This vaccination may only be administered with a licensed veterinarian's supervision where there is a USDA license that was issued.
Thereafter, pets are required to be vaccinated every one or three years, which will depend on the type of vaccine that was used. Suppose the owner of an animal is traveling with the pet. In that case, there must be a rabies vaccination certificate present complete with a signature from the veterinarian who conducted the vaccination process.
If there is any dog or cat over three months old being transported into Texas, a vaccination against rabies must be carried out. The animal is not considered as vaccinated unless 30 days have passed since the initial vaccination happened. Additionally, depending on the vaccine used, there shouldn't be more than 12 or 36 months that have elapsed.
How the Rabies Quarantine Works
The quarantine can be completed in just about any state-approved facilities. Again, it's not difficult to check which facilities in the applicable city fall under that umbrella. Note that there may even be cases where a home quarantine situation is approved. This will require that state and local requirements be met. Additionally, the Local Rabies Control Authority will need to agree to this.
Be that as it may, the recommendation is that the veterinary clinic option is used if applicable since this is the best way to protect the health of the animal. Bear in mind that animals that are placed in shelters run the risk of being exposed to illnesses from other animals that may have been picked up around the city.
The standard quarantine period is also done to ensure that timely rabies prophylaxis is received by the victim just in case the animal starts to show signs of the virus.
Medically Treating Animal Bites
For this kind of injury, the bitten person is advised to get professional assistance with the treatment of the bite. However, first aid is essential. To this end, begin by washing the wound thoroughly with soap and water. With this out of the way, reach out to a physician to ascertain the need for a tetanus shot and to receive proper care.
Of course, this will also include a discussion of the risk of rabies exposure from the animal bite.
How Does a Dog Bite Attorney Help You Prove Liability?
Getting medical treatment is one thing. However, getting fair compensation from a dog bite claim is another. Dog bite attorneys in Houston TX are essential to this process considering the amount of expertise that is brought to the table to assure the best possible outcome for the client. Here are some of the factors that will be considered in determining where the limits of liability for a dog attack lie:
Failure to provide a proper enclosure: As you know, some dogs are allowed to live outside the home. Typically, this means that there is some enclosure present to house the animal. However, sometimes the fences are weak or low, which allows the animal to escape and begin to attack people.
The ownership of dangerous breeds: Not all dogs are the same. Some types will be genetically more aggressive than others or they may have become this way because of certain circumstances. In any case, these dogs are more likely to attack strangers. Texas is not a state that explicitly prohibits certain breeds, but some cities will.
Dog owner responsibility: Depending on the city, the responsibilities of dog owners can vary. However, some will apply at the state level such as the aforementioned requirement to ensure that vaccination is completed by the time the dog has reached 16 weeks old.
Failure to leash: There are times when dog owners do not have a leash on their pets in contexts where they should do so.
All these elements can contribute individually or cooperatively to the attack and the extent to which an attorney can help to prove this can help the claim in some form. Progress in the right direction will come from the forms of proof presented.
Negligent Handling Considerations
The process of a dog bite claim requires that liability be established for a claim of negligence. As is the case with other kinds of personal injury matters, there must be proof that a duty of care was owed in the first place.
With pet owners, it's a little more straightforward, considering that there is a duty to have the pet on a leash when in public, for example.
Following the establishment of the duty, it's then necessary to demonstrate that the said duty has been breached. With that out of the way, the next step is to tie the breach to the injury that has occurred.
With all of these requirements successfully taken care of, there may be a strong case for negligent handling on the part of the pet owner.
Potential Landlord Liability
Landlords can come into the mix too depending on the factors involved. There may be a case where a landlord is aware or should've been aware of the fact that a tenant has a dog that demonstrates vicious tendencies. However, there was a failure to maintain safe premises or have the dog removed.
In these cases, even the landlord may be held liable for the injuries. Of course, this will only apply if the injury happened on the property in question.
What Do Do After Being Attacked By a Biting Animal
Get Medical Treatment
Medical treatment is essential to ensure that any rabies virus concerns or other infection possibilities are taken care of and that wounds will be able to heal as best as possible. Additionally, it means documentation of the extent of injuries and the costs incurred will be generated, which are necessary for the claim. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has more information about what to do if you get bit by a dog at work in Texas.
Document What Has Occurred
Ensure to have the best description possible of everything, especially in cases where the animal is not confined or the owner isn't known. The animal's last known location, pictures of the wound and area, contact details of witnesses, etc., are all recommended.
File a Report with the Relevant Authorities
Report the bite as soon as possible to the Local Rabies Control Authority.
Reach out to a Qualified Houston Animal Attack Lawyer
If the incident is going to be the catalyst for a personal injury claim, the lawyer will be a big part of the proceedings. Therefore, it's essential to contact one as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Texas Animal Bite Attorney Today!
Animal bites in Texas are no joke and must be handled properly medically and otherwise. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation.
Schedule a free consultation today with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys and let us go to war for you! Simply give us a call!