Man’s best friend has sharp teeth. And all dogs can bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Such injuries can include scarring, nerve damage, and even the need for amputation. For understandable reasons, many victims do not know how to proceed after such an incident. If you or a loved one have been injured, then it is important that you speak with a Fort Worth dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible.“We know that dog bites are not a breed-specific issue and that any dog can bite,” said Dr. Mike Topper, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Veterinarians see firsthand the needless heartbreak a dog bite can cause.”More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, according to the non-profit group, American Humane. Some 800,000 seek medical treatment. Dallas ranks 8th in dog attacks on letter carriers, a 2017 U.S. Postal Service survey showed.
Dog bite victims can and do file claims. A number are successful in reaching cash settlements. State Farm alone paid out $132 million in dog-related injuries in 2017, averaging $36,573 per claim, the insurance company said.
Every situation is different, and it’s not uncommon for victims to hesitate about taking action because the dog’s owner is a friend or a neighbor, or both. By filing a case, a victim is not saying an owner is a nasty person. Rather, the attack victim is asserting his or her right to seek justice and sufficient funds to cover medical costs and compensate for pain and future.
Texas is different from some other states in that it does not impose “strict liability” in a dog bite case. This means that an owner will not automatically be found liable simply because their dog bit someone. Instead, the victim must show that the owner failed to use “reasonable care” in making sure that their animal did not harm anyone. Second, while some may hear of a dog bite and think of a minor injury, the fact of the matter is that these cases can result in serious harm. It is important to understand how medical and economic damages are calculated in such matters. Finally, knowing what to expect from the trial process will help to ensure that things go smoothly.
It is important that the scene is viewed immediately and that any important evidence is preserved. In a case involving serious harm, we suggest that you retain a firm that employs multiple attorneys and which utilizes an on-staff investigator. This is true regardless of whether you were injured in Fort Worth or elsewhere in Texas.
A Fort Worth dog bite victim may possibly suffer serious harm. Incidents involving a canine can result in scarring, nerve damage, and possibly the loss of limbs or appendages. Such injuries can impact one’s ability to earn a living as well as their quality of life. Fortunately, Texas law protects such victims. One who has been attacked by an animal may be entitled to recover their past medical expenses as well as the expected costs of future care. Also, if the injury has left a victim unable to return to their job then they may be entitled to their lost earnings (both past and future) less any money they can be expected to earn in a new career. Finally, one may request compensation for pain, suffering, and the extent to which scarring and/or disability has reduced their past and future happiness.
In serious cases, it is often necessary to retain expert witnesses in order to properly prove the extent to which a victim has been harmed. We previously discussed the need for experts in head injury cases. Many of these same concepts apply to matters involving dog attacks. A vocational expert will offer their opinion and testimony in regard to how the accident has hindered the victim’s ability to earn a living. Medical experts will testify in regard to the need and expected cost of future care. The defense will also have an opportunity to present experts, and the jurors will decide which professionals are more trustworthy. Your Fort Worth dog bite injury attorney will pay the costs of the experts up front. It is, therefore, important that you retain a lawyer with the financial resources necessary to hire such professionals.
Depending on the facts of the matter, Fort Worth victims may be able to recover punitive damages in a dog bite. While the type of compensation described above is meant to pay a victim what they have lost, punitive damages are meant to “punish” the wrongdoer. Say, for example, it was shown that a dog owner had trained the animal to be vicious and to attack others. Now say that the animal was not reasonably restrained. Under these circumstances, it may be possible to recover punitive damages. Again, it will be necessary to speak with a lawyer regarding the specific facts of your case.
If you or a loved one have been attacked, then it is vital that you retain an injury Fort Worth dog bite injury attorney immediately. In addition to hiring counsel with significant financial resources, we suggest you retain a firm in which counsel is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and who also employs an on-staff investigator. Contact our firm for help.