Dog Bites Attorney in Houston, TX
In the United States, about 4.5 million dog bites are reported every year. Often, bites from dogs aren’t just physically painful; they can be emotionally scarring too. According to information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five victims of dog bites require medical attention. In some horrific cases, dog attacks can even be fatal. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you may be eligible for compensation. Jerome O. Fjeld is a personal injury attorney based in Houston, TX. He has more than 15 years of experience handling cases like dog bite claims. Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, does not charge any legal fees unless we’re able to achieve a settlement through negotiation or win a compensation award at trial. Our firm is committed to helping victims who’ve been injured because of the negligence or wrong-doing of someone else.
Dog Bites in Texas
While dog bites occur in every state, Texas seems to suffer more of them on average. More than 30 people lost their lives to dog attacks between 2005 and 2013. In Texas, 68 percent of dog bite fatalities were children under the age of 11. In these attacks 76 percent were committed by pit bulls, a breed that is known for an aggressive temperament. Rottweiler attacks accounted for 15 percent of these fatalities. Big dogs can be powerful and those with a penchant for aggression can be deadly. Yet, even smaller dogs can cause serious injuries with their bites.
The One-Bite Rule
Many states have a one-bite rule regarding dogs. In essence, this rule gives dog owner’s a one-time free pass the first time their dog bites someone. The first time a dog bites a person, the dog owner can claim that they did not know their dog was aggressive. If the dog bites someone again, the owner does not have the free pass any longer and they may be liable for damages. This is one of the reasons it’s important to report dog bites. Often, it’s difficult to prove that a dog has bitten someone previously.
Determining if a Dog is Aggressive
In Texas, the law may determine that a dog is vicious if it:
- Has bitten a person
- A doctor has determined (in a formal affidavit) that a dog bite or scratch could have been life threatening
- The dog has killed another dog or domestic pet or has killed livestock at least once previously
- The dog attacked another animal, causing it to sustain life-threatening injuries (verified by a veterinarian in an affidavit)
A dog owner should be aware that their dog may be considered dangerous if it has attacked a person in the past, a court has issued you a notice that your dog is viewed as a danger, animal control has issued a warning that your dog is a danger.
Preventing Dog Bites
Sometimes, it’s impossible to prevent an attack. People who have been out for a job in their local park have been attacked by an aggressive dog that seems to come out of nowhere. Some types of aggressive dogs may even jump their fence to attack someone who’s simply walking down the street. There are some things you can do to try to prevent some attacks such as:
- Never approach a dog you don’t know
- Avoid stray dogs
- Avoid reaching through a fence to pet a dog
- Do not chase or tease dogs
- Ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog
- Never leave a young child alone with a dog
If you provoke a dog, you may be ineligible for compensation. Of course, many defendants will attempt to say that you provoked their dog, but ringing your door bell or jogging in a park are not acts of canine provocation.
In order to achieve compensation, a dog bite victim must prove that the dog’s owner was negligent. If the dog’s owner allowed their aggressive dog to roam unleashed, they would be considered negligent. Negligence is defined as failing to provide ordinary care. So, failing to mend a broken fence or letting the dog roam free could be regarded as negligent acts by dog owners.
Unfortunately, many dog owners fail to take precautions to secure their potentially dangerous pets. They may feel quite safe in their pet’s presence, but if they do not take precautions, especially if they understand that their dog is a danger, they may be liable for damages to dog bite victims.
What Should You Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog in Texas?
If you or a family member in your care is bitten by a dog in Texas, you should seek medical care. Even what appears to be a non-serious bite can be more serious than you think. Medical providers can examine the bite wound and clean it properly to ward off infection. When obtaining medical care, be sure to keep track of all hospital or clinic paperwork. These documents can provide you with evidence should you pursue a claim.
Next, you should contact animal services or even the police. The dog that bit you could pose a serious danger to your community. If the dog is a stray, animal control or police will need to track it down. If the dog attacked and bit you, it could do the same to someone else, possibly even a child. Some attacks can be life-threatening. Injuries caused by dog bites can certainly be serious—even life changing.
Photograph Your Injuries
In cases of severe dog attacks, it’s not uncommon for hospital staff to photograph the victim’s injuries. You, too, can take photos of your wounds. These photos may be used as evidence if you pursue your claim.
Contact a Houston Dog Bite Attorney
After getting medical care and reporting the dog bite to relevant authorities, consider calling Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC. We can advice you about how to best proceed after reviewing your case. There is a statute of limitations for filing claims. We can discuss the time limits involved in your case. We can also help track down information about the dog that bit you. We’ll do our best to investigate whether the dog has been involved in other reported cases. We may talk to witnesses who say the accident. They may be able to provide extremely important testimony that could support your version of the events like:
- The dog was roaming around unleashed
- The victim did not provoke the dog
- The dog’s owner was unable to control the dog
- The dog owner’s fencing was in a state of disrepair
As part of our service to our clients, we routinely investigate matters associated with the claim. If there’s video footage, for example, we’ll hunt it down. Our goal is to bolster your claim with relevant evidence. If a dog owner has been negligent and you’ve been injured as a result, you deserve fair compensation.
Evaluate Your Claim
Not every victim of a dog bite is eligible for compensation. That’s why Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC, offers clients a free initial consultation. We’ll carefully examine your claim so that we can understand its merits and challenges. A common defense that a defendant is apt to use is that the victim trespassed at the time they were bitten. If you entered a person’s gated yard without permission and a dog bit you, you are unlikely to have a case. We’ll provide you with our honest opinion of the matter after going over every detail of your claim.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Dog Bite Claim?
Personal injury attorneys cannot say with any certainty how long it may take to resolve your claim. Much depends on the case’s particulars. Home insurance companies may play a role in the case. Victims may wish to recover more fully before pursuing their court case—and that takes time too.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites in Texas
Personal injury claims like dog bites must be filed within a certain time period. Victims of dog bites have two years from the date of their attack to file a claim.
In Texas, dog bite victims can seek compensation in two forms: economic damages and non-economic damages. The economic damages are the medical expenses and lost work wages associated with the case. The medical costs can be extensive, particularly in severe attacks that cause disfigurement. While recovering, some dog bite victims may be unable to attend work. The dog owner may be liable for these damages. Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering. Dog bites can be incredibly traumatic for victims. In Texas, a parent who witnesses a dog biting their child can sue for emotional distress.
What Happens to Dogs that Bite?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule about how to deal with dogs who have bitten or attacked. Vicious dogs who’ve killed are typically put down if they are seized by animal control. However, the consequences vary tremendously with each dog who bites. Another way to address this issue: what happens to owners whose dog bites?
If an owner’s dog is declared to be dangerous, they owner has a legal responsibility to prevent their dog from attacking. Cities like Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio have statutes in place that guide owners of aggressive dogs. They may have to provide a certain type of barrier. This barrier is subject to checks from Animal Control representatives. Texas takes aggressive dogs seriously. The onus is on the dog’s owner to prevent the animal from harming others.
Rely on Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC
If you’ve been bitten by a dog in or around Texas and believe you have a claim, contact Jerome O. Fjeld, PLLC. We will carefully examine your claim and provide other services that include:
- File court documents
- Manage paperwork and case-related documents
- Attend appointment and court proceedings punctually
- Communicate with defendant’s insurance company (if it’s involved in the claim)and attorneys
- Speak with witnesses
- Obtain supportive evidence like photos or video footage
- Obtain testimony from medical experts
- Provide clients with legal advice
- Aggressively negotiate or litigate the case
As a small firm, we are able to give our clients personalized attention. You’ll never get the brush off with us! Too often, clients feel anonymous when they walk into large law firms. At our firm, we take time to answer your questions and address all of your concerns. You’re not a mere case number in our book. We get to know you and all the details of your case so that we can provide you with the customized service you deserve.
5902 Irvington Blvd,
Houston, TX 77009
5606 N Navarro St #200,
Victoria, TX 77904