If a person is harmed by an unprovoked dog bite, an attorney can be extremely helpful in figuring out who is responsible. Laws governing canine attacks are handled at the state level and many states adhere to the “one-bite rule.” This law convolutes the legal process some because it can give the owner a free pass in some cases. However, this does not mean the owner can act with impunity before or after an attack. If the victim can show that the owner was negligent in their handling or treatment of the canine, they may be held responsible for any damages. An experienced lawyer can help a victim investigate the details surrounding the incident and help paint a clear picture of the events leading up to the attack.
In Texas, the first time a canine attacks someone, the owner is generally not responsible for damages. This may seem unfair, but it’s often unclear which animals are likely to attack before an actual attack occurs. However, as soon as a canine does harm someone without being provoked, the owner is responsible for any further damage the animal causes. In addition, if the owner has reason to believe the canine will attack someone without provocation, then they may be held responsible for any damages. This is often hard to prove after a dog bite, but an attorney experienced in these cases can help a victim gather information regarding the animal’s history and any incidents it has been involved in previously. Witnesses, adoption or vet records, can all help build a case for the victim in this respect.
However, the owner may be held responsible even if the animal has not attacked anyone before in some situations. If the owner is in violation of any animal handling laws at the time of the attack, they may be culpable for any harm caused by the canine. This includes leash laws, which mandate that the canine be secured by the owner when not in an enclosure. If the canine is not on a leash, it must be kept in an enclosure capable of reliably holding the animal. If the enclosure is in a state of disrepair or was not secured at the time of the attack, the victim may be in line for compensation.
In addition, if the canine has been neglected in any way before the attack, the owner may be held responsible. Animals that are mistreated, abused, or hurt are more likely to act defensively and attack, even without provocation. After a dog bite, an attorney can help gather witnesses or vet reports to determine whether the canine was neglected or abused by its owner.
While it may be difficult, a victim should try to record a description of the canine and the location of the attack. Then it’s important to file a report with animal control and seek medical treatment immediately. Not only will this prevent infection and further attacks by the animal, it will be helpful during the legal proceedings. Also, consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer to review any legal options. A skilled injury lawyer may be able to help a victim attain restitution for medical costs, lost wages, and ongoing physical therapy if the attack results in a long-term disability or disfigurement.