Animal Bites Attorney in Denton
Holding Owners Accountable for Their Pet’s Injurious Behavior
Americans love their pets. They are often considered extended members of the family.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 40% of households have a dog (about 25% have a cat). Despite their beloved position in Denton homes, pets can become aggressive.
Each year, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. Around 800,000 of those people require medical attention. Children are the most common victims and the most likely to be severely injured. The size or reputation of a particular breed does not predict an animal’s likelihood to bite.
The following injuries could be incurred from a dog bite in Denton:
- Rabies (rare in dogs in the U.S.)
- Bacterial infections
- Physical injury or impairment
- Mental injury such as PTSD
Texas Is Third Highest in Animal Attack Claims
Texas had just over 1,000 animal-related injury claims, making it the third-highest in the U.S. California leads this infamous ranking with 2,026 followed by Florida with 1,478.
Liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost homeowners insurers $882 million in 2021, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and State Farm®. Not all injury claims are related to bites. An animal knocking down children, the elderly, and cyclists can also cause significant injury.
A personal injury claim in Denton must be filed within two years of the injury.
Compensation for Animal Attack Injuries in Denton
If you are partly to blame for an animal attacking you, you still might be able to collect damages. The state follows modified comparative fault rules – also known as proportionate responsibility in Texas – in personal injury cases. If you are deemed 51% or more responsible for the incident, you are barred from collecting any damages. A fault of less than 51% allows you to receive a proportionate monetary award.
For example, if the total damages are $20,000 but you are 20% responsible for what occurred, then you are eligible to receive 80% of the damages, or $16,000.
Either of the following must be established to recover damages from the animal’s owner:
- The owner knew that the animal had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past
- The owner negligently failed to use reasonable care to control the animal or prevent the bite
The Texas Supreme Court rule in the 1974 case Marshall v Ranne that owners generally cannot be responsible for predicting whether their animal (a hog in this particular case) will bite or otherwise be dangerous. Once an animal does bite, the owner is now aware that their animal can be aggressive and should take appropriate precautions to ensure it does not happen again.
A Denton pet owner who knows the animal has been previously dangerous is more likely to be deemed negligent for not preventing a subsequent attack.
Courts have ruled that violating state and local animal control laws can also be the basis of liability.
Potential Criminal Liability for Animal Bites
Denton animal owners can face criminal charges in addition to civil liability. An attack by a dangerous dog is a class C misdemeanor but can be elevated to a felony. An attack that causes serious bodily injury can be a third-degree felony. The owner could be charged with a second-degree felony if the person attacked dies.
The Texas Health and Safety Code states that an owner may be criminally charged if:
- the owner fails to secure the dog, and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, at a location away from the owner's property
- the owner knows the animal is dangerous and the dog attacks someone, unprovoked, at a location other than a secure enclosure in which the dog is restrained
Safety Tips to Avoid Dog Bites
The Texas Department of State Health Services offers these tips to prevent a dog bite:
- Supervise a young child around any dog, even if you are familiar with the dog.
- Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Don’t scream or run from a dog.
- Be still when an unfamiliar dog approaches you.
- If knocked down by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
- Don’t stare into the dog’s eyes as they might see that as threatening.
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Let a dog see and sniff you first before petting them.
- Don’t pull on a dog’s ears or tail or squeeze it too hard.
- Do lavish extra attention on a dog when a new baby is brought home.
Legal Counsel for Animal Attack Claims in Denton, TX
Our attorneys at Goline & Roland Law Firm, PLLC are skilled negotiators and litigators. We fight tenaciously for our client’s rightful compensation. Animal attacks and bites range from minor to deadly. Medical bills, therapy, and lost wages are some of the costs that must be paid. We work hard to make responsible parties financially accountable.
Schedule a consultation where we can evaluate your animal bite case. Reach out to us online or call (940) 400-0475 to get started.