4 Ways to Get the Most from a Dog Bite Claim
It’s no secret that Texans love dogs. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are about 7.2 million dogs in the Lone Star State. That’s more than any other state.
Unfortunately, Texas also leads the pack when it comes to dog bite fatalities, and Harris County leads the state for fatal dog bites. Fortunately, most dog bites do not result in death, but they can lead to serious injuries and even disfigurement. If you’re seeking compensation for your injuries, these four steps can help you get the most from your dog bite claim.
Write Everything Down
If the injury is serious or life-threatening, seek medical attention immediately and worry about these other steps later. Your health is more important than anything, and delaying treatment could hurt your claim further down the road.
Otherwise, take a moment to write down a few things. It’s important to have all the facts before you file your dog bite claim. Write down:
- The events that led to the attack
- What happened during the attack
- What happened immediately after the attack
If it’s too traumatic to recount the event at the moment, ask a friend or family member to help you through it. Although difficult, it’s important to remember that your recollection of events is crucial when filing a claim. Your story will serve as evidence and play an important role in getting the insurance company to cover your injuries’ cost.
At this stage, it’s also a good idea to take photos of your injuries and the scene of the attack. It’s also important to determine the dog’s owner and address. This information will be crucial in the next step.
Report the Attack to the Authorities
Make sure that you report the dog bite to the authorities or local police. State Health and Safety Code rules require that all animal bites be reported to the authorities. Every county in Texas has an Animal Control agency, and there are offices throughout Houston.
An animal control incident report must be completed and filed. The police may take care of this or hand it over to Animal Control to perform an investigation and file the report.
When speaking with Animal Control, ask whether the dog has a history of aggression and biting. This is important information that you’ll need when filing your dog bite claim. If the dog has a history of biting or being aggressive, this improves your chances of having your claim approved.
Determine Who is Liable
Texas is a “one bite rule” state, which means that dog bite victims can recover compensation from the dog’s owner or keeper. However, some requirements must be met. You can only recover compensation if:
- The dog has already bitten someone or acted like it wanted to bite someone, AND;
- The defendant was aware of the dog’s previous aggressive behavior.
Essentially, Texas dogs can get away with biting one person before the owner will be held liable for damages.
To file a dog bite claim, you must first determine who is liable and what kind of insurance is available to cover the claim. In most cases, it’s the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy or renter’s insurance that will handle the claim.
A lawyer can help determine who is liable and how to pursue damages.
Dog Bite Claim: See a Doctor
It’s important to seek medical attention after a dog bite, even if you think the injuries are minor. You may need to see an orthopedic surgeon or a plastic surgeon for your injuries. Your healthcare provider will assess your injuries and create a narrative for you.
If you don’t seek medical attention or wait too long to get care, this can greatly harm your chances of having your claim approved. Some dog bite victims recover fully without complications. Many others are left with permanent scars, discoloration, or even contour deformity at the bite site.
Dog bites often occur on the arms or legs, which means that these scars are visible for everyone to see. These scars and injuries serve as a constant reminder of the attack. Many dog bite victims suffer both physically and mentally. A doctor’s narrative written after the wounds have healed can explain what can be done surgically to help the victim recover.
Dog bite claims can be complicated. It’s important to hire a lawyer who specializes in dog bite claims. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.