Can I Sue My Neighbor if His Dog Bites Me in Houston?
Most people love dogs. They’re cuddly and fun to play with. Most of them are pretty friendly. People have their own opinions about certain types of dogs. Most of these fears are unfounded. For example, pit bulls are no more likely to attack you than any other kind of dog. It all comes down to how they’re trained. Regardless of the type of dog, many of us can’t resist petting dogs. Whether the dog belongs to our neighbor or a stranger’s, we love to say hi. If someone warns us that their dog isn’t friendly, we won’t take our chances. But, for the most part, there’s no real danger in petting a friendly dog.
The problem is, we never know when a dog may attack. It’s a lot different when it’s your own dog. Most people can read their dog’s demeanor and know if there’s an issue. Plus, dogs tend to be very loyal to their own family. It’s only when they think someone’s a threat that they attack.
So, what happens if you pet a neighbor’s dog and they bite you? If you get bitten pretty hard, you may need to go to the hospital. Worst case, you want to at least get a rabies shot just in case. You may need stitches. Depending on where you’re bit, you may need surgery.
If this happens to you, call a personal injury lawyer in Houston. He can help you file a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company.
Who Do You Actually File the Claim Against?
A lot of people say they would never want to sue a friend or neighbor. It could ruin a long-term friendship or relationship. Nobody wants to do that. And, if we have health insurance, we figure it’ll cover our medical treatment. Why bother going after our neighbor for something that clearly was an accident?
You have to realize that, for the most part, you’re not going after your neighbor. You’re filing a claim against their insurance company. That is a totally different thing. You have no idea what your damages may be.
Your injuries may cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket. You may be out of work for weeks or months. If your injuries are serious enough, you could end up on disability. This can have a profound impact on your day to day life. Somebody needs to be held responsible. It’s not fair for you to shoulder this burden on your own. It wasn’t your fault the dog bit you, was it?
What is the Dog Bite Laws in Houston?
Unlike a lot of other states, Texas doesn’t actually have a dog bite statute. They use a negligence standard. This means that, in order to recover, you have to prove negligence. Any negligence case requires the same basic four (4) things:
- The defendant had a duty of care
- He breached this duty
- You were injured
- Your injuries were caused by his breach
If you get bit by a dog in Houston, it really comes down to whether or not the dog owner should’ve known his dog would bite you. Texas follows a very common rule called the “one bite rule.” This rule says that, in order to prevail against a dog owner for damages, you need to prove the following:
- The dog’s owner knew the dog had bitten someone before or had known the dog to act aggressively against someone in the past OR
- The dog’s owner was negligent in controlling his dog or preventing it from biting the plaintiff
Most courts also require that you not be at fault yourself. If they find out that you antagonized the dog, you may lose your case. Or, if the judge finds that you knew the dog was vicious, you may have assumed the risk. This means you won’t be entitled to recover damages.
The other thing that affects your case is where it took place. If you were trespassing at the time of the dog bite, you won’t be able to recover. The law typically requires that you either be legally on the premises or in a public place at the time of the incident.
Call a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you get bit by a local dog, you need to call a Houston personal injury attorney right away. Even if your injuries aren’t that severe, you shouldn’t have to pay your medical expenses yourself. You need to file a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s policy. If your claim isn’t paid, your Houston injury attorney can file a suit on your behalf.
Call McDonald Worley and schedule your free initial consultation today. Meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer today. You pay nothing until you settle your case.