Dog Bites Are Serious

Houston has won another dubious honor. During Dog Bite Prevention Week, the United States Postal Service announced that more postal employees were attacked by dogs in Houston than in any other U.S. city in 2018. This may sound like the start to a bad joke, but it is a serious problem.

Texas leads the nation in dog bite fatalities and has a staggering number of bites per capita reported each year. This is a big deal because 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog require medical attention, and up to 18% of all dog bites become infected.

Be Prepared

If you are bitten by a dog, the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you take the following steps:

Protect Yourself

  • Put your purse, bag, or jacket between you and the dog.
  • If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.

Wash Wounds with Soap and Water

When you get to a safe place, immediately wash wounds with soap and water. Seek medical attention, especially:

  • For minor wounds:
    • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
    • Apply an antibiotic cream.
    • Cover the wound with a clean bandage.
    • See a healthcare provider if the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen; if you develop a fever; or if the dog that bit you was acting strangely.
  • For deep wounds:
    • Apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth to stop the bleeding.
    • If you cannot stop the bleeding or you feel faint or weak, call 911 or your local emergency medical services immediately.
    • See a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • See a healthcare provider:
    • If the wound is serious (uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, muscle or bone exposure, etc.).
    • If the wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen, or if you develop a fever.
    • If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
    • If it has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep.

Report the Bite

  • Because anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies, consider contacting your local animal control agency or police department to report the incident, especially:
    • If you don’t know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
    • If the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.
  • If possible, contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination. You will need the rabies vaccine license number, name of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine, and the owner’s name, address, and phone number.

An Additional Step

We would add one additional step to this list — contact an attorney.

It’s Only A Bite, Why Involve An Attorney?

When a dog bite leads to a serious injury, it is perfectly acceptable to contact an attorney to help you make an insurance claim or file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. Our firm has handled many dog bite cases, so we know what evidence will be needed to make a good case, and can help you estimate what sort of compensation you will need in order to recover from or live with your injuries.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can also ease the tension if the person who owns the dog that bit you is a family member, friend, or neighbor. We can advocate on your behalf so you can blame us if the other party gets upset with you.

Bad Dog, No Biscuit: The In’s And Out’s Of Dog Bite Lawsuits

In the newspaper world “Man Bites Dog” is an expression used when something noteworthy or downright weird is happening. This phrase came into use because it’s the mirror image of something that happens so often it’s not news at all — Dog Bites Man. Unfortunately, dog bites are incredibly common.

According to a study from the Center For Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. 800,000 of those bites require medical care. We all know medical costs add up quickly, which is why our firm regularly helps people who have been bitten by a dog — or another animal kept as a pet — seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a dog bite statute that spells out exactly who is at fault and what happens next after a dog bites someone. Instead, our state relies on traditional rules of tort law. This means that in order to recover damages you have to show that the dog’s owner was negligent, or that the dog who bit you was known to be dangerous.

Negligent Owners

If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be able to seek compensation from the dog’s owner if you can show that the owner did not try hard enough to prevent their dog from injuring you. Reasonable people will train their pets, and keep them on a leash or fenced up.

If the dog owner failed to act reasonably, and their failures lead to your injury, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. If there are leash or fencing laws in your community, and the dog owner was not following them, that may automatically be considered a failure to act reasonably.

This rule also applies in situations where a dog injures someone without biting them, like when an elderly person is knocked over by a friendly dog that jumped up to say hello.

One Bite Rule

If the dog that bit you was known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous, your case may be easier to prove because the courts will often apply what is known as the “one bite rule.” The “one bite rule” is a strict liability rule. Under this rule, the dog’s owners will be held automatically liable if their dog has bitten someone before, or is known to be vicious, dangerous, or mischievous.

A Bitter Battle

Dog bite lawsuits are often incredibly contentious because we all love our pets. Nobody wants to believe that their dog is dangerous, so dog owners will often dispute that a bite occurred or downplay serious injuries. It is therefore critical to seek medical attention for all dog bites so evidence of the true extent of the injury is available.

It is also important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney if you want to seek compensation for a dog bite injury.