Your child is playing with the neighbor’s dog—like he’s done numerous times before—when the dog suddenly bites him on the arm. The neighbor is stunned, but puts the dog away in a kennel and helps treat your child’s wound. You take your boy to the emergency room, where you find out he will be OK, but needs stitches.
What you experienced is not uncommon. More than 4.5 million people in the United States suffer from dog bites every year. While most are minor, approximately 20 percent require medical attention. Children are most likely to get bitten. In fact, many instances occur while playing with a family dog or other familiar dog.
If you or your child gets bitten by a dog, what are your next steps? Should you sue the dog owner? Can you file a claim for compensation?
Seek Medical Treatment
If the wound is deep and there is heavy bleeding, seek medical care promptly. If the bite caused minor damage, wash it with warm water. Use soap to ensure the wound is free of debris. If you think the dog might have rabies, it’s a good idea to get a tetanus shot.
Contain the Dog
If you can get near the dog, contain it in an area. If you are unfamiliar with the dog, try to find the owner or contact animal control.
Understand the Law
Texas is different from most states in that it does not have a dog bite statute. It follows the “one-bite rule,” which means that essentially the dog gets one free bite. Two conditions must be met before the victim can recover compensation from the dog’s owner:
- The dog bit someone previously, and
- The owner knew that the dog was dangerous.
If these two conditions are met, the court can order that the dog be destroyed if it caused serious injury or death to a person. However, if the dog was used for protection and kept in an enclosure with signs warning others to keep away from the dog, and a person teased the dog or was trespassing or committing some other crime on the dog owner’s property, the owner may not be held liable.
File a Claim
You have two years to file a personal injury claim for damages caused by the dog bite. If you suffered serious injuries, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages, contact a lawyer to determine your rights to compensation.
Contact an Austin, Texas Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one was bitten by a neighbor’s dog or a dog owned by anyone else, you have the right to hold the owner liable for your injuries. Dog bites can cause long-term injuries and it’s important that you receive the compensation you need to pay for medical bills and other expenses.
Seek legal help from the dedicated Austin personal injury lawyers at the Christensen Law Firm, PLLC. We can help you reach a settlement or even take your case to trial if needed. Call our office today at (512) 220-1800 to schedule a free case evaluation.