Every state approaches civil liability following a dog bite differently. Some states have enacted a strict liability standard, meaning the dog owner is liable for any injuries their animal causes, regardless if they knew it to be dangerous or not. Other jurisdictions use the negligence standard, commonly referred to as the “one bite rule.” In San Antonio, it is possible that either standard applies.
If you or a loved one were severely injured due to a dangerous pet, a seasoned personal injury attorney can help you hold the owner accountable for damages. Let a San Antonio dog bite lawyer help you seek compensation that covers the full value of your injuries and damages.
Most states have enacted a statute that explains how civil liability works after a dog or animal attack. That is not the case in San Antonio. The Texas Supreme Court issued a decision in 1974 that set out the standard that applies. Under this decision, the court held that the negligence standard primarily applies to a dog bite injury claim. This standard can be challenging to meet. Also, known as the one-bite rule, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the dog owner was aware of their pet’s dangerous nature and acted negligently. This is proven by showing the dog had attacked someone previously.
There are two steps under the law to establish a dog bite claim. The first is to prove the owner of the dog knew that the animal had acted aggressively before. The second is to show that the dog owner failed to take reasonable measures to prevent a dog attack.
Claims for damages under this law are not limited to dog bites. Any injury caused by a dog could also qualify. This could involve injuries from a dog knocking over and injuring a person. A claim could also result from a scratch from the dog.
In some limited circumstances, a seasoned San Antonio dog bite attorney could take advantage of the strict liability standard. This is important given it is much easier to meet this standard compared to negligence. The major difference between the two standards is that strict liability does not require proof the dog owner knew the animal was dangerous.
Strict liability is primarily available when the person injured by the dog can show the dog was, by nature, vicious or dangerous. While a previous bite could be evidence that a dog was dangerous, it is up to the court to make that determination.
Strict liability can also kick in depending on the owner’s actions during an attack. If a dog owner fails to take steps to end an attack, they could face the strict liability standard as opposed to negligence.
Someone seeking damages for a dog attack must present proof of the identity of the dog and its owner, as well as evidence supporting their case. To protect their rights, anyone who has suffered injuries from a dog should take certain steps:
It is also essential for someone injured in a dog attack to avoid doing certain things. For example, do not post pictures or descriptions of the incident on social media, as a defense lawyer could twist the information in the posts to discredit a victim. Do not speak about the incident with the dog’s owner, an insurance company, or anyone else, before securing legal representation. Do not delay seeking medical treatment for the physical and emotional injuries that occur in an animal attack.
Dog bite claims are legally complicated because a victim might pursue damages under theories of negligence, strict liability, or both, depending on the facts of the incident. They are also emotionally complicated, especially if the victim knows the dog or the dog’s handler well.
Dogs often bite family members, neighbors, or friends. In such cases, victims might be tempted to smooth things over by handling matters outside of the courts. Unfortunately, the result is the injured person often receives too little to cover their actual damages, and the relationship is just as strained as it might have been if the victim had pursued a legal remedy.
Seeking legal counsel to handle a dog injury claim is wise because it ensures the claim is handled professionally, between the owner’s insurer and the victim’s representative. Emotions and relationships do not enter into the negotiations; it is strictly business, as it should be. A professional approach is more likely to produce a resolution that is appropriate and fair to all parties.
An attorney could review the victim’s medical and employment records to get a sense of their economic damages. They could investigate whether the animal had a history of aggression by seeking information from the animal control authorities and speaking with the dog’s owner, veterinarian, and neighbors. They could interview witnesses to the incident to get a sense of the way it unfolded. Armed with all that information, they could enter into negotiations with an owner’s insurance company in a solid position to secure a reasonable settlement for the victim.
The injuries that could result from a dog bite are no laughing matter. In addition to the serious lacerations they can cause, these bites also carry the risk of infection or nerve damage in some cases. With a successful injury claim, you could help recover the financial cost of treating these injuries.
If you have received a dog bite, it is important to take action on your claim right away. Schedule a consultation with a San Antonio dog bite lawyer to discuss rights and eligibility for compensation.