There are unexpected situations that happen every day and some of them are more inconvenient and have more far-reaching implications than others. Dog bite cases are great examples of this. No one wants to be bitten by a dog and people are usually very unprepared to handle such a matter.
Of course, there is also a huge difference between a single bite versus an attack that leads to multiple injuries. Additionally, assuming the animal isn't vaccinated in the case of a stray, dog bite victims may also have concerns about rabies.
Animal bites can happen anywhere, which means that work is not out of the question. With that said, here's a look at how to handle a dog bite scenario that happens at work alongside some other essential pieces of information to have. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like What is the rabies bite law in Texas?
What Do Texas Dog Bite Laws Say About Owner Liability?
Other states often have a civil statute that will cover the extent to which a dog's owner is liable for damages whenever the animal injures someone through a bite or otherwise. Be that as it may, there are two provisions made that cover when dog owners are liable for the injuries that their animals cause.
The One Bite Rule
This rule is aligned with those of many other states, which have the one-bite rule in effect. Essentially, where a dog's owner knew or should've known that the dog might be dangerous, there is strict liability if such an animal should attack someone.
Even if the said owner acted responsibly and took action to ensure that people are protected from the animal, if it is a dangerous dog or has aggressive tendencies, then the strict liability clause will apply when an incident happens.
A Negligent Dog Owner
Even if the owner has no reason to think that the animal is dangerous, there may still be the possibility of being sued for negligence. Proving this only requires the party who files the dog bite lawsuit to prove that the owner's dog caused the injury and it happened because the owner did not act responsibly.
Proving Liability for a Dog Bite Case
Here's a bit of a deeper look into the negligence element that was highlighted above. For a personal injury claim of this type to be successful, the victim has to successfully cover three parameters of proof, which are as follows:
The owner has a duty of care to control the dog's behavior. This may be as simple as the requirement of a leash in public or may cover taking additional steps considering that the dog in question has demonstrated violent tendencies.
There are special circumstances at play or the dog has already bitten someone in the past.
There was a failure on the part of the dog owner to demonstrate the required duty of care, which resulted in the dog attack that took place.
Bear in mind that while dog bites are most common, there are other injuries that animals can cause as well, which would be viable for a claim. For example, a big dog can knock a child over and end up causing a bone to break.
Typical Dog Attack Defense Strategies
A dog owner will be trying to either minimize the amount of compensation that must be paid or will want to eliminate the need for payment. To this end, certain defenses may be used to try to turn things around.
By definition, trespassers have no legal right or permission to be in a particular place. One of the easiest examples of this is when a person is on another's property without any consent from the owner. While there may be strict liability under typical circumstances, this does not apply in cases where the dog inflicts an injury on a trespasser.
Once there is trespassing, the only recourse that such a victim has is being able to demonstrate that the owner took some specifically negative actions. This will include intentionally having the dog hurt the victim or where there is a gross case of negligence.
Negligence of the Dog Bite Victim
Texas uses what is known as a comparative negligence system. Imagine that there is 100% of fault to be allocated in any kind of personal injury claim scenario. If there is a certain amount of compensation to be awarded, it will depend on how that allocation takes place.
So, if the party the claim is brought against is completely at fault, then the full compensation will need to be paid. However, what the plaintiff gets can be reduced if they have a part to play in the incident.
This defense can apply in cases such as those in which the victim may have provoked the animal, which led to the attack happening.
No One-bite Rule Application
This defense aims to negate the requirements of the one-bite rule. In this sense, there may be an attempt to dispute the evidence presented that the dog had ever acted in any threatening way. Additionally, the dog owner may attempt to dispute the fact that they ever had reason to think that the dog was dangerous or would ever hurt someone.
Here's How to Handle a Dog Bite Attack at Work
What happens if a dog attack takes place at work? Here are the steps to take.
Get Medical Attention Immediately
Medical care should always be the priority. If wounds from dog attacks are not treated quickly and effectively, then there is the possibility for all sorts of unwanted outcomes such as complications from rabies, infection, more scarring than is necessary, slow healing, etc.
Additionally, getting medical care will see documentation being created that will confirm the extent of your injuries and the costs associated with getting the care that is needed.
Gather Evidence Where Possible
Any evidence that can be obtained and preserved from the scene of the attack is incredibly valuable. The more information that can be collected and provided, the greater the chances of having a successful claim process.
Pieces of evidence that are useful are pictures or video recordings of where the biting took place and the state of injuries that have occurred. If possible, get the name and address of the dog owner as well as a contact number.
Bear in mind that the more time passes before evidence is collected, the greater the chance of not being able to hold the owner accountable.
Ensure a Report is Filed to Texas Animal Control Authorities if Applicable
If there is the belief that rabies could potentially be contacted, the dog bite should reported to the relevant animal control authorities. If the dog is a stray or its vaccination status is unknown, these are good reasons to make such a report.
Contact a Competent Texas Dog Bite Lawyer
There will be a lot of legalities that go into a dog bite claim, especially if it is meant to end favorably. To this end, a competent dog bite attorney in Houston TX will be a key part of that potentially successful outcome.
With the medical care and the report out of the way, calling the attorney should be one of the first steps to take since there can be valuable insight provided into what kinds of actions to take to ensure that the claim is not jeopardized in any way.
What Kinds of Damages Can a Dog Bite Claim Yield?
A dog bite claim in Texas can see the plaintiff being awarded one or a combination of all or two of three possible types of damages:
Economic damages - These represent monetary costs that are set and provable such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Non-economic damages - These are more along the lines of quality of life and will require the expertise of the attorney to value such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment.
Punitive damages - Under normal circumstances, only one or both of the other two types will apply. Punitive damages are only a part of the equation where there was intent on the part of the owner to harm or where there was gross negligence. To this end, this award is purely a means of punishment.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Dog Bites?
The statute of limitations speaks to a period within which civil lawsuits can be filed and these timelines will be different based on the kind of case. In Texas, dog bite cases fall under the personal injury umbrella meaning that there are two years following the injury in which filing must take place. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help answer questions such as What is the statute of limitations for dog bite in Texas?
Be that as it may, it's recommended to file as soon as possible as earlier action increases the chances of holding the owner accountable.
Tips to Help Avoid Dog Bite Injuries
Be aware of the surroundings
Do not pet or feed strange dogs
Do not attempt to startle a dog or cause it to feel threatened
If approached by a strange dog, stay calm
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Houston Dog Bite Attorney Today!
Dog bites can be annoying to deal with, especially at places like work. Thankfully, you don't have to navigate the process alone as the team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is willing to go to war for you!
Schedule a free consultation with a seasoned dog bite attorney today!