Corpus Christi Dog Bite Injury Attorney
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, according to the Canine Journal. This means that one out of every 69 Americans suffers a dog bite annually. About 800,000 of these bites require medical care. While the risk of dying from a biting dog is relatively low, dog bites can cause catastrophic injuries and even resulting in permanent disabilities, such as vision loss or disfigurement. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog in Corpus Christi, you should contact an attorney to determine your eligibility to seek compensation. A Corpus Christi Dog Bite Injury Lawyer can assist you today.
If a person is bitten by someone else’s dog, is the dog owner liable? What if the dog owner claims that he or she had no idea that the dog was capable of inflicting harm? These are questions that legislators in all 50 states have attempted to answer. Some states follow strict liability when it comes to dog bites, meaning that dog owners are liable if their dog causes harm to a person, whether they were aware of their dog’s vicious nature or not. Other states have a one-bite rule, which means that owners are liable only if they had prior knowledge that the dog was vicious, such as if it had bitten someone before.
While Texas doesn’t have a specific law on the books for dog bite cases, it does have legal precedent through the 1974 state Supreme Court case Marshall v. Ranne, in which the Court sided with the one-bite rule and determined that negligence must be proven in animal bite cases by proving:
- The owner knew the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past
- The owner failed to use reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite
Texas law states that a dog that has caused the death or serious injury of a person must be seized and impounded until a court hearing can be held to determine the nature of the situation. The hearing must be held within 10 days after the attack, and written notice of the hearing must be given to the owner of the dog, the person making the complaint about the dog, and any other interested party who has evidence relevant to the case. If the hearing reveals that the dog did indeed attack, bite, or maul the person, the court can order the dog to be destroyed. However, there are some defenses to that action, including:
- The dog was being used as protection of its owner or its owner’s property, and the attack occurred in the enclosed area where the dog was being kept.
- The enclosure was reasonably sufficient to keep the dog from leaving on its own, and there was signage present to warn others of the presence of the dog.
- The victim of the bite was at least eight years old and was trespassing in the enclosure when the bite, attack, or mauling occurred.
- The bite, attack, or mauling occurred during the process of an arrest, and the dog was working with law enforcement.
- The dog was protecting its owner from assault or theft by the injured person.
Corpus Christi has its own dog bite ordinances, which spell out certain requirements for owners of so-called dangerous dogs. A dangerous dog, according to the Texas Health and Safety Code, is defined as:
- A dog that makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own; or
- A dog that commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own, and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
In Corpus Christi, the animal control authority must inspect enclosures used to house dogs that are believed to be dangerous to ensure that the enclosure will reliably restrain the dog or that there is someone nearby who can restrain it. In addition, owners of dangerous dogs are required to purchase $100,000 worth of liability insurance that specifies that coverage for bodily injury and other damages that may be caused if the dog attacks someone. Dogs who are registered with the city as dangerous are required to wear green colors and large tags at all times stating that they are dangerous, and the address and description of registered dangerous dogs are publicized.
If a known dangerous dog attacks someone and causes bodily injury, the dog may be seized, impounded, and euthanized; the owner may be charged with a crime.
In March 2019, Corpus Christi passed an additional vicious dog ordinance pertaining to dogs who wound or kill other animals. The ordinance states that the owner of a dog is prevented from keeping that dog within the city limits if it has killed or seriously injured a dog, cat, fowl, livestock, or other pet. An animal will be determined to have been seriously injured if an attending veterinarian provides an affidavit stating that the animal’s life was at risk or that it suffered permanent impairment to basic bodily functions. Penalties for dog owners include $50 to $2,000, plus court costs. The ordinance does not apply to animals who are enclosed on the owner’s property and kill another animal who enters the property.
81 percent of dog bites result in no serious injuries. Children are more likely to be bitten by dogs than adults are, according to the CDC, and the injuries to children tend to be more severe. It is more common to be injured by a dog in your own home than it is to be injured by a dog you’re unfamiliar with. Men have a higher likelihood of being bitten by a dog than women. Some of the injuries involved in dog attacks include:
- Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
- Trauma to soft tissue and tendons
- Damage to nerves and blood vessels
- Broken bones
- Eye and facial trauma
- Throat trauma
More than 27,000 dog bites each year require reconstructive surgery. Up to 18 percent of all dog bites become infected, the CDC notes. Some infections that a person may obtain through a dog bite include:
- Rabies: Although the disease is rare in the United States, the risk is real, and this is one of the most serious infections a person can get from a dog bite. Rabies is passed through the saliva of the animal and affects the brain of the injured individual. It is almost always fatal.
- Tetanus: This is a toxin produced by a certain type of bacteria that may be present in deep puncture wounds. It causes rigid paralysis.
- MRSA: This is an antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection that may cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in some people, particularly those with weakened immune systems.
- Capnocytophaga bacteria: This bacteria lives in the mouths of dogs, cats, and humans, but does not produce symptoms for dogs or cats. In humans, the bacteria is particularly dangerous to those with weakened immune systems that may cause illnesses to be more severe.
- Pasteurella: This type of bacteria is seen in more than half of all infected dog bite wounds. Symptoms include redness and pain at the site of the infection, as well as swollen lymph nodes, swelling in the joints, and difficulty moving.
While damage to the skin is the most noticeable of dog bite injuries and often the one that everyone focuses on, care must be taken to evaluate the underlying body structure—bones, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels—to ensure that there are no hidden injuries that may damage the function of that body part. For example, a wound to the skin on a person’s hand due to a dog bite may look bad, but an injury that damages the tendon beneath the hand is worse and may prevent the injured individual from moving his or her finger.
Dogs Most Likely to Bite
Any dog can bite under the right set of circumstances. However, as the Canine Journal reports, some dogs are more prone to biting than others. The top ten breeds that bite people most frequently are:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Lhasa Apso
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Bull Terrier
Over 30 breeds of dogs have been associated with dog bites and fatalities. 25 percent of fatal dog attacks involved dogs of various breeds who were chained in someone’s yard. The majority of these bites involved dogs who were not spayed or neutered.
While not all dog bites are preventable, there are some actions you can take to avoid either having your dog bite someone or being bitten by someone else’s dog, the Canine Journal notes.
- Remember that dogs with a history of aggression are never appropriate for a home with young children. If you’re adopting an adult dog, make sure to spend time with the dog before taking it home to ensure that it does not have aggressive tendencies.
- Dogs who are not spayed or neutered are more likely to be aggressive than those who are. Spaying and neutering is one way to help ensure that you’re not housing a dangerous dog.
- If your dog is prone to biting, consider taking a dog training course to train the animal to obey your commands.
- Proper socialization of puppies is an important step in preventing aggressive tendencies in dogs. Don’t play aggressively with your puppy.
- Don’t ever approach an unfamiliar dog, and avoid approaching any dog while it is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
- When you are in contact with an unfamiliar dog, allow it to sniff your hand before you attempt to pet it. Scratch the dog beneath the chin rather than reaching to pat its head.
- If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, do not run, panic, or make loud noises. Remain motionless. If the dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and remain motionless with your hands or arms covering your ears and neck. Avoid eye contact.
Dog bites resulted in $530 million in insurance claims in 2014. One-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims are due to dog bites or dog-related injuries. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, you may be able to file a claim with the owner’s insurance company to recover your expenses. An experienced dog bite attorney can provide you with information about that process and may be able to represent you in the handling of that claim. An attorney can assist you with the process of seeking compensation through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit in the following ways:
- Establishing a value to your claim based on the expenses you face, including time away from work due to your injury as well as travel to and from doctor appointments. The attorney will also consider non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, that you may have incurred because of your injury.
- Negotiation power. Attorneys spend a long time learning not only about the law, but also about successfully negotiating a settlement. Your dog bite lawyer will use his or her ability to negotiate to attempt to resolve your dog bite claim with the dog owner or the owner’s insurance provider.
- An understanding of the law, including liability. Your attorney will look at all of the details of the case, including potentially liable parties and potential insurance resources.
- The ability to present your case to the liable party or in court so that decisions can be made regarding fair compensation for your injuries.
When a vicious and dangerous dog attacks a person, especially if it is a small child or older adult, the injuries that the accident victim suffers can be painful and sometimes permanent. Corpus Christi dog bites can result in cuts, bite marks, and lacerations that require stitches and may leave scarring on the victim’s body. The accident victim may also need to undergo a significant amount of medical treatment, including reconstructive surgeries or physical therapy.
If you or a person you love is the victim of Corpus Christi dog bite injury, seek legal help in your case as soon as possible. Failing to act quickly could result in a court dismissing your case under the state’s statute of limitations that applies to dog bite claims. The knowledgeable Corpus Christi dog bite attorneys at The Patel Firm PLLC can help you bring a claim for monetary compensation against the appropriate party or parties.
What is the statute of limitations that applies to Corpus Christi dog bite cases?
A two-year statute of limitations applies to dog bite cases in Texas, including those that involve dog bites. This means that in almost all cases, there is only a two-year period of time the statute of limitations allows for filing a claim involving a dog bite. The start of this two-year filing window begins on the date of the dog bite incident.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a dog attack and you fail to file a lawsuit against the responsible person within that two-year window of time, a court will likely dismiss your case, and you will no longer be eligible to pursue or recover monetary compensation for the injuries that you suffered in the attack. Under some limited circumstances, the statute of limitations may toll, or extend. However, you should assume that the two-year statute of limitations period applies in your dog bite case.
The experienced Corpus Christi dog bite lawyers at The Patel Firm PLLC will file your claim or lawsuit as soon as possible and within the statute of limitations filing window to preserve your right to monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. Once you file your lawsuit, we can assist you with litigating your case and bringing it to a favorable resolution.
What laws cover dog bite cases in Corpus Christi?
In the state of Texas, there is no statute (or law passed by the Texas state legislature) that directly addresses dog attacks, dog bites, and the compensation that a victim can recover from the dog owner. However, in the Texas Supreme Court case of Marshall v. Ranne, the state Supreme Court held that, when it comes to civil dog bite cases, the state will follow the negligence (or one bite) rule.
For a dog bite victim to recover monetary compensation for the injuries they suffered in a dog bite incident, the victim must demonstrate at least one of two points:
- The owner of the dog was already aware that the attacking dog had a history of either biting or acting aggressively toward someone in the past.
- The owner of the dog did not use a reasonable amount of care to restrain the dog or prevent the dog from attacking another person (such as using a leash or keeping the dog behind a fence), and, as a result, the bite occurred.
This negligence rule in Texas does not just apply to cases where a dangerous dog bites another person. The rule also applies to dangerous dogs that cause other types of injuries.
Specifically, if a dog knocks a person to the ground and the person suffers a serious injury as a result, then the injured individual can bring an insurance claim or file a lawsuit against the negligent dog owner. However, just as in the case of dog bites, the victim would need to demonstrate that the dog owner did not use reasonable care to prevent the harm under the circumstances or that the dog owner knew that the dog had a history of being dangerous or aggressive.
Although the state of Texas applies a negligence rule to the majority of dog bites that occur within the state, courts will apply a strict liability rule in some instances. The strict liability rule typically applies in cases where the dog has a known mischievous, dangerous, or vicious propensity, and the dog bite occurred as a result of this propensity. Moreover, a dog may be classified as “dangerous” if it has bitten someone in the past, regardless of whether or not the dog’s prior bite brought about a serious injury or harm to another person.
A dog owner can be deemed strictly liable for a bite from a known dangerous dog. In that instance, the person who suffered the injury does not need to show that the dog owner failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances or that the dog owner did not take the proper precautions to restrain the dog. Under the Texas strict liability rule that applies to dog bite cases, the dog bite victim only needs to demonstrate that the dog that inflicted the bite injury was a “known dangerous dog” to pursue and recover monetary compensation for the injuries they suffered in the occurrence.
If you or a person you love sustained an injury in a dog bite attack, the Corpus Christi dog bite attorneys at The Patel Firm PLLC can assist you with proving the legal elements of your case and pursuing the monetary compensation that you deserve for all of your injuries.
What are some common types of Corpus Christi dog bite injuries?
Dog bites and dog attacks can lead to extremely serious injuries for victims. A serious dog bite can break the victim’s skin and lead to bite marks, along with serious cuts, lacerations, puncture wounds, and bruises. A serious cut or laceration may require that the dog bite victim go to a hospital and receive stitches or another type of medical treatment. If the wound becomes infected, complications can arise that will need further treatment.
Dog bite incidents do not just result in puncture wounds and bite marks. In some cases, the dangerous dog may cause the person to fall to the ground and suffer an injury to another part of the body, such as a bone fracture, soft tissue injury, traumatic head or brain injury, or spinal cord injury (if the accident victim falls on their back).
Many of these injuries can result in hospitalization, along with weeks or months of medical treatment. Fortunately, the costs of medical treatment, along with the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that comes along with treatment, are compensable under the law.
The knowledgeable Corpus Christi dog bite attorneys at The Patel Firm PLLC can handle all of the legal aspects of your case while you treat for and recover from your injuries. Once you have completed all of your medical treatment for the injuries that you suffered in the dog bite incident, our legal team can help you file a claim or lawsuit for the damages.
How do I pursue a claim for monetary compensation and damages in a Corpus Christi dog bite case?
When it comes to pursuing monetary compensation for injuries that you suffered from a dog bite, a lawyer can assist you by filing a claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties. If you are filing a Corpus Christi dog bite claim, you will need to demonstrate that the dog owner behaved unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, the dog owner may have failed to put the dog on a leash or otherwise prevented the dog from biting you. In addition, you must demonstrate that you suffered injuries, and those injuries resulted directly from the dog attack.
If the basis of your Corpus Christi dog bite claim or lawsuit is strict liability, you will not need to prove any fault on the part of the dog owner. They can be strictly liable for the injuries that you suffered, depending upon the circumstances. However, you will need to establish that you suffered an injury and that there is a causal connection between the injury (or injuries) and the dog bite.
In cases where liability is clear, you may receive an offer to settle the case just by filing a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company. However, initial settlement offers are generally very low, and your lawyer may need to negotiate with the insurance company to reach a settlement that is full and fair under the circumstances. You should never accept a settlement offer without first having an attorney review the offer. If you accept an offer that does not cover your losses, you usually waive your rights to seek additional compensation once you realize the offer was insufficient.
If, after several rounds of settlement negotiations, the insurance company is still not willing to compensate you fairly, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the dog owner in the state court system. The case may then need litigation, after which the insurance company may increase its settlement offer. You have the ultimate authority to decide whether or not to accept a pending settlement offer or take the Corpus Christi dog bite case to trial.
What are some potential defenses that a dog owner could assert in response to a Corpus Christi dog bite incident?
There are several legal defenses that a dog owner can assert in response to a dog bite incident. First, the dog owner could claim that they were unaware that the dog would act aggressively under the circumstances or that the dog would bite you. Consequently, the dog owner might argue that they did not behave negligently or unreasonably when attempting to control the dog.
In addition or in the alternative, the dog owner may allege that the bite victim was trespassing on their property at the time of the incident. Therefore, the bite victim was taking a risk and should assume responsibility for the injuries and damages they suffered in the incident.
You should expect dog owners to try to avoid liability whenever possible, and the insurance company can challenge your claim. A knowledgeable Corpus Christi dog bite attorney can assist you with responding to any of the defenses that a dog owner might raise in your case.
What types of monetary compensation are available in a Corpus Christi dog bite case?
Following a Corpus Christi dog bite occurrence, a bite victim may be in a position to pursue monetary compensation and damages from the dog owner (or the dog owner’s insurance company). Specifically, if the bite victim suffered a serious injury, they could pursue compensation for all of the medical treatment incurred. This compensation can include the costs of medical procedures, corrective surgeries, and plastic surgeries resulting from the injuries sustained in the dog bite incident, as well as treatment necessary in the future.
If the Corpus Christi dog bite injury prevents the bite victim from working in some capacity, then the victim could pursue a claim for lost wages or lost earning capacity (depending on the circumstances). If dog bite injuries leave someone permanently disabled, they might have to find lower-paying employment or stop working altogether. It is possible to recover for future lost earnings, as well.
In addition, the bite victim could make a claim for pain and suffering resulting from the injury, as well as for permanent disfigurement, should the bite victim sustain unsightly scarring as a result of the dog bite incident.
If you have suffered injuries in a Corpus Christi dog bite, your attorney can help you pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve for the injuries that you suffered. The Patel Firm PLLC works to hold dog owners liable for the harm their animals cause to others, so reach out today for more information. Contact The Patel Firm PLLC online or by calling (361) 400-2036 for a free consultation and case review.
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